Monthly Archives: March 2010

Storytelling in presentations

I have always believed that a presentation is pretty much like a story though I never looked into the techniques of storytelling. I just foud this nice manual written by Barry McWilliams on story telling and was pleased to see that many of the techniques and advice is exactly the same as my tips for a business presentation. This is what I found:

- The audience has a very important role in storytelling – for their minds are the canvas on which the teller paints his tale. Oral storytelling involves much interaction between teller and hearer. I have observed that our audiences have lost some of the skills to follow a narrated story and see things in their minds. Storytelling has become more difficult. Attention spans are shorter and more demanding, more sophisticated, yet less able to independently imagine or visualize. People seem to need more visual stimulation. So take the story as close to them as you can and keep it brief and simple.

- Learn the story as a whole rather than in fragments. Master and then simplify its structure to a simple outline. Don’t try to memorize it, though you should always know your first and last lines by heart!

- Practice the story often – to the mirror, your cat, driving in the car, with friends, or anyone who will listen. Even when telling an old and familiar story, you must use imagination and all the storyteller’s skills to make it come alive. Use your imagination to make the story come alive as you prepare.

- Stories are more interesting when there is animation and variety in the voice of the teller. Show enthusiams but this does not mean artificial or noisy excitement. Be earnest! Gestures and facial expressions add much to the vizualization of the story. Be sure they are appropriate and natural. Practise them!

- Pacing involves both the volume and rate at which you speak, and the progression of the action in the story. Dialog slows a story’s pace down, while narrating action speeds it up.

Experience will hone these skills, and when – and how – to use them most effectively.

Are pecha kucha presentations THE solution?

Some 2 years ago I learned what pecha kucha was all about, a presentation style containing a fixed number of 20 slides, these slides can only contain images and the slides change every 20 seconds. This reduces every presentation to some 6 minutes and 40 seconds. To be honest I was not thrilled by this presentation style because I do believe in text in a presentation as well, especially key messages. However, if I have to choose between a ‘report presentation’ containing 37 slides and pecha kucha I would know what to choose…