Tag Archives: storytelling


Storytelling in a presentation

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 ;-)

Zorg voor een flexibele structuur

Gisteren kreeg ik een heel leuke mail van iemand die ik onlangs coachte voor zijn presentatie. Hij bedankte mij omdat de presentatie zo goed verlopen was maar wel in het bijzonder omdat ik hem een flexibele structuur had aangeraden want zijn presentatie was net voor het spreken ingekort tot 10 minuten spreektijd. Als structuur hebben we het piramide principe gebruikt en ik raad dat aan voor elk soort presentatie omdat de boodschappen er veel duidelijker uitkomen. Tevreden publiek dus, tevreden klant en tevreden coach :-)

invitation to my home…

casa SImply Talking 1

On May 8th I combine my 2 passions again: cooking and inspiring you for your next presentation. Topic is storytelling in business presentations!

I welcome you at 8:30 with breakfast, we start at 9:00, I share my ideas based on the interviews I did with CEOs and VPs to inspire you how to tell your story (short if high level). Please bring your laptop with a presentation you already did or we can work on a presentation you still need to do. I prefer to make this session as interactive as possible! You learn how to stay in control during your presentation, how to pitch, how to convince an audience, and what the most common mistakes are speakers make so you can prevent them.

We end at 12:30. But you cannot leave without a warm meal (last time it was my home made lasagne) and one of my chocolate desserts… Your investment is 300€ for this workshop. This session is limited to 8 people! You can mail me to enroll or ask more questions on sylvieverleye@icloud.com

Is your company presentation a christmas tree or a story?

large_6604960497 I actually should have written this newsletter one month ago as I love to compare company presentations with christmas trees. What we tend to do is focus on detailed slides, like a brochure. And as we all know by now that visuals work in slides, we decorate the bullets with pictures, even clipart (still), pretty much like a christmas tree. But here’s a question for you: do you show and comment these slides when you present your company or do you have a story to tell??

I advise you to focus on a story and use your slides as backup to use them if needed during the discussion with your prospect. Of course, the first thing you will do is ask questions and get to know what their problem or question is though at one point you will have to tell your story. You should be able to tell that story in 1 minute, have a 5 minute version and sometimes it can be even a longer version.

Here is a guideline you can use for your 1 minute that is actually the basis for every longer presentation you would do:

  • Describe a situation, which often results in a complication
  • Ask the most important question linked to that situation
  • Give an answer, which is your core message

When your answer is a solution, end with the 3 most important reasons why this could be a solution for your prospect.
When your answer is a specific product or service, end your 1 minute with the 3 most important benefits for the customer of that product or service. 3 is a magical number, easy to memorize for you and memorable for your audience.

Don’t just focus on a agenda saying where you come from, how big your are, what your mission is. Focus on them, give them benefits, tell your story and prepare it well!



Pitch your idea and make it short


Last week I heard once again that when you need to talk to a high level audience you better be prepared to make it short. It is not because they have given you 20 minutes that you will actually have 20 minutes speaking time. It is not because they let you begin your talk you won’t be interrupted…soon. So be prepared! Here’s an idea for you.

Next time you have to talk to a high level audience split your presentation in 2 parts: short talk of no more than 5 minutes and lots of room to fill in the details with a discussion. TELL your audience upfront that you only need 5 minutes to get your main messages across and afterwards you discuss the details together. Build your 5 minute talk around the main conclusions! And don’t end with ‘do you have any questions’. End with a valuable, straight forward question like: ‘On which parts would you like me to provide more details’ or any questions that works following your talk. Move from a monologue to a dialogue and notice how efficient this technique can be!

The power of metaphores

I had the pleasure to see Jef Staes presenting this week! What a speaker… But what strikes me most is this: he sinned against so many ‘presentation rules’ and still managed to leave a lasting impression. He sat down, something I would never recommend. He didn’t have the most exciting start using even hesitant words. But he did one thing that was extremely strong: his whole speech was one long metaphore (comparison he made with sheep in all its forms) and I’m sure everyone in the audience still remembers what his core messages were. So far for presentation techniques…

Watch your language!

Today I heard it yet again: these awful minimizing sentences such as ‘today I am going to talk to you a little bit about’ or ‘I will try to explain to you today’. What do you think about ‘Maybe I will go to the next slide now’… and it goes on and on. It is not only the inconfident speakers who use these sentences, it is like a presentation habit. Beware of language like that! It literally minimizes your presentation. It can help reahearsing aloud and be very conscious of your language.