We all believe that we should weave stories into our business presentations, and who wouldn’t want to weave a compelling Business Presentation story?
But most of us rarely do. This might be a result of simply not knowing how.
Admit it . . . most of us think we’re pretty sharp – we all think we know what a story is, don’t we?
But do we really?
What is a Business Presentation Story?
Here’s my definition of a business presentation story, and it’s honed from a series of definitions that by their nature are slippery. It’s like trying to define “culture.” Most folks offer up definitions to suit the points they try to make.
A story is a narrative of events, either true or untrue, that appeals to the emotions more-so than the intellect and which features a character’s struggles to overcome obstacles and reach an important goal.
A business presentation story is . . . well, it’s no different.
Now, why is this important? Don’t we all somewhat believe, maybe, that stories are important in presenting?
Sure, but when it comes to “serious” presenting, many folks back off what they profess and offer up the usual tofu. Who knows why, but that’s usually what happens.
Maybe it’s the fraud that many perpetuate that business presentations are a “soft skill” that must yield to . . . something else.
You choose that something else: “facts,” “numbers,” “hard data.”
These substitutes for a compelling business presentations story offer false precision and faux comfort.
The Presentation Masquerade is Perpetuated
Now, science has come to the rescue.
Social science, at least.
Have a look at this 2007 book by Kendall Haven called Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story.
In this book, Haven compiles a wealth of sociological stories that inform us exactly what is meant by “story” and the source of its power. He contends that stories work so well because our brains are hardwired to learn most effectively from story-based narratives. “The mind-boggling and extraordinary truth is that each and every one of thousands of original sources agrees that stories are an effective teaching and learning tool.”
The results of this research are compelling and difficult to believe. Here is a small sample of findings:
“Story is the best vehicle for passing on valuable information . . . . Story structure proved equally more effective for teaching theorems, facts, concepts, and tacit information all across the curriculum and the spectrum of human communications.”
The bad news is that most folks remain ignorant of this power. Not through any fault of their own, but because of the impetus in modern business thought that has erected barriers against story narrative.
The good news is the same point. You can gain incredible power and advantage by embracing the power of a great business presentation story.
Have a look at Kendall Haven’s book, and be convinced.
For more on the power of telling a good business presentation story, consult The Complete Guide to Business School Presenting.