Sell with a story, not a lecture

“Stories have power. They delight, enchant, touch, teach, recall, inspire, motivate, challenge. They help us understand. They imprint a picture on our minds. Want to make a point or raise an issue? Tell a story”— Janet Litherland

It is hard to resist the power of a good story.

Imagine this scenario:  You are a member of a 500-person audience, at the very end of a long day of a conference. It’s time for your final session before dinner and socializing.

One more speaker is presenting, this time about a non-profit and a cause that’s near and dear to her heart.

Your mind is distracted though. You’re probably hungry, and a bit tired. You feel as though your brain has reached capacity.

The presenter needs you to get on board with her cause. Her objective is to get you to donate time, money, and/or energy — but first she needs you to listen.

Designing presentations is always a difficult task, but often can be made easier if we simply alter our perspective on how we view ourselves:

We are all storytellers.

As an audience, we want to be taken on a journey. Stories help give us meaning, allow us to remember facts and comprehend information.  Stories help frame material, and make connections between the content and also personal experience. Telling a story about your cause and choosing a hero for us to follow allows us to relate to what’s being said and follow a narrative with a beginning, middle and end – as opposed to a cavalcade of facts.

Without a visual aide, all the audience has to hold onto are your words. Go ahead, tell us a story. Encourage us to use our imagination. Reincorporate images and important facts within the story to help drive information.

Help make your audience an active part of your presentation.

After all, we all have a story to tell.

I am facing a similar challenge tomorrow when I am scheduled to present a talk on Improvisation and Business at a Business School function near Sacramento California. Without a visual aide (computer, projector, handouts), I will be relying on the power of story.
I can’t wait to see how this story ends.

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