Women In Business

Why the power and structure of story matters to your bottom line

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Think of the last good movie you watched. It likely had creative visuals, a compelling script, music, rhythm and heroic characters. All these elements came together and made you feel something. They made you feel an emotion – excited, sad, angry even apathy.

Stories – whether it’s the latest Hollywood blockbuster, an investor presentation or a presentation to your team – provoke our emotions. They help us feel something towards the person telling the story, i.e. the presenter (you), which helps create connection, credibility and trust. A good presentation reads like a good movie. It needs to balance the logic of the content with an emotional connection.

Get emotional

In the business world, emotion was once seen as inappropriate because of it was thought that problem solving and decision making should rely on our logic and analysis. This simply isn’t true.

According to Forrester Research, emotion was the number one contributor to customer loyalty in 94% of industries studied, beating effectiveness and ease. While Disney and Gallup found, organisations that have optimised their customers’ emotional journey generate 26% more gross margin and experience 85% more sales growth than their competitors.

An influential presentation needs to have a solid structure and stories that are easy to follow. It needs to have lots of signposts that lead your audience through on a journey. It’s important to remember that you’re not putting together a report.

If you have lots of supporting background information and data, then share this with your audience as a PDF before or after the presentation – don’t cram it into your slides!

Remember, presentations are our default way of communicating, human to human, with pictures, images, words and vision. So, use images or video to create sadness, excitement, inspiration or even anger if it’s appropriate to your cause. Your goal is to strike the right balance of fact and feeling.

Structure your story

We learn, entertain, communicate and socialise, through stories. Storytelling is the most powerful form of communication ever invented!

Master communicator Nancy Duarte spent two years reading mythology, philosophy, and researching screenwriting and other story methodologies that have stood the test of time. In the course of her research, she uncovered a structure that some of the world’s greatest communicators had been using for years (including Aristotle).

It’s called ‘Persuasive Story Form’. This structure takes your audience back and forth between ‘what is’ (current state) and ‘what could be’ (the future world with your idea). You can use it for everything, from a movie script to your latest presentation.

Beginning: ACT I

Have an honest conversation about the reality of the situation

Give them a glimpse at the solution – with your idea.

Middle: ACT II

Create tension and contrast for your audience

Use a balance of emotional and analytical insights.

End: ACT III

Begin with your call to action, what you want your audience to do

Finish with an inspiring description of the world with your idea in place

Ensure they leave committed to taking action.

Make it memorable

Storytelling in business spins facts, figures and information together with emotion to make your message memorable. It’s these captivating stories that have the potential to drive people to action after they have seen your presentation.

That is how you deliver meaningful and unforgettable messages. That is how you will influence not only your bottom-line, but your impact in the world.

About Emma Bannister

Emma Bannister is passionate about presenting big, bold and beautiful ideas. She is the founder and CEO of Presentation Studio, APAC’s largest presentation communication agency, and author of the book ‘Visual Thinking: How to transform the way you think, communicate and influence with presentations.’ Visit https://www.presentationstudio.com/

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