You probably don’t remember how to balance chemical equations but chances are you do remember some of the great stories one of your teachers or classmates shared in school. Mr. Gustafuson, one of my high school teachers, used to begin every class with a short excerpt from a book he was reading. I remember some of the details from the book he read from, but to be honest, I don’t remember what class he taught! I do remember looking forward to hearing the next section, which encouraged us to show up on time.
Stories are memorable, facts and figures are not. In the words or Chip & Dan Heath, co-authors of Made to Stick, Stories are Made to Stick!
Presentations which might otherwise be dry, come alive with great stories. When talking about a wrong approach or illustrating an idea, use a story rather than arguing for your proposed solution. A wise mentor once told me, you can’t argue with someone’s personal testimony. So use a real story, and if possible, use one you have personally been involved in (If not, be sure to research the details and be sure it’s true before bringing it to the client.)
One more important point; great stories are rehearsed and revised. Coming up with a new story at the moment of truth is not the best approach. Develop your example stories before you get on stage, practice them, record them, share them with others, and figure they will improve over time, so tell them often. The better you become at story telling, the more life you’ll bring to your presentation. Try it this week and let me know how it goes….
© 2010, David Stelzl