Last month I was on a 2 day training with a customer in France. It was for a huge group of young people and they were welcomed by 2 senior managers. The first manager opened the training and then gave the floor to the second manager who said this ‘Piet asked me to tell you a story but I don’t want to tell you a story, I want to tell you something that really happened in my business…’
I was in the audience and was really surprised by this because a story for me in a presentation is something that really happened. It is not a made up story. And that gave me the idea to clarify this in a newsletter as I often talk about storytelling. A presentation for me is one big story that needs a clear structure for which I use my model. And from beginning till end the presentation is filled with real anecdotes and this is what I call storytelling.
Most TED talks are filled with storytelling as these are inspirational talks. But even business presentations can have storytelling elements and this is what most people are afraid to use as it is ‘business’. If you want to keep your audience awake, you need variation and one of the best ways to do that with your content is by combining facts & figures with anecdotes (stories).
I remember when I interviewed Marcia De Wachter (she was then vice president of the National bank) she showed me a small book she always carries in her handbag. When something happens that she wants to remember (somethings that happens to her or that she sees happening) she writes it in the booklet and when the book is full her secretary types it out on the computer. She had been doing that for 10 years. When she needed to prepare a presentations she looked in the database which story she could use to begin the presentation and she used it throughout her presentation. That was for her the cherry on the pie and that is storytelling. When Peter Hinssen prepares his presentations he makes a kind of ‘playlist of stories’ and he memorizes the order of these stories. He knows how many stories he can tell in which timing being the experienced speaker he is.
How do you think I remembered to tell you this story for this newsletter? I wrote it down the moment I saw it happening in France