Presentations are a great way to share a powerful story and messages.
But how often do you see them done well?
There’s a reason the phrase ‘Death by PowerPoint’ emerged.
Too many presentations delivered were tedious and dull.
Too many slides. Too much text on each slide. Too much fancy styling and not enough focus on the content for the audience. Not enough story.
No surprise that the technology took the blame whilst poor presenting was let off the hook.
Easier to grumble about a Microsoft application than discuss a lack of skill, experience or training in delivering impactful presentations.
The Essence of Great Storytelling
Think of a favourite book, film or TV show. They will probably have one thing in common. Strong storytelling.
Authors, filmmakers and television programme creators know and understand their audience. A good presenter will be the same.
Who is your presentation for? What is the purpose of the presentation? What is your audience looking for?
Once you’ve considered the answers to those kinds of questions, it’s time to put things together.
Your presentation is a story. It, therefore, requires a beginning, a middle and an end.
In theory, that’s simple. In practice, many fall into a common content trap.
Don’t Stick to One Type
Typically, what you see in less powerful presentations is content of a certain kind. This is especially true in business.
We see information on slides that appeals to the more functional, analytical and mathematical parts of the brain.
The audience is presented with a story filled with facts, features, data, charts and case studies. Slides provide evidence, illustrate examples, and focus on systems or processes.
If that’s all a presentation offers it is no wonder that it fails to go down as well as the presenter expects.
There’s something missing with the story.
The Missing Ingredient
What these presentations are usually missing is content that engages the audience on an emotional level. A higher level of storytelling.
People respond to stories that stir their emotions. Make them laugh, cry or feel something.
There’s no rule to say you cannot bring some of this into a PowerPoint presentation. Let the slides support the storytelling.
What kind of content are we talking about here?
It could be the telling of a biographical or fictitious story. Or a story about someone else.
Share an analogy, metaphor, parable or anecdote. Add a hint of humour, suspense or drama to the proceedings. Go further and make a shocking statement or put up an evocative image.
Mix It Up
Now you have a better set of ingredients to work with. The key is to use both types of content and blend them together.
The data side gives the audiences the facts. The story side gets the audience more engaged in the content.
You may not have noticed while enjoying a film or TV drama, but this is exactly what the screenwriters are doing. They are tapping into your emotions, switching and shifting the emotions. This is why we get gripped and hooked with characters, plots and our favourite series.
You can use the same story process to improve your presentations.
Develop Your Skills
Telling better stories is about understanding story structure and preparing what you want to say. Then it’s a matter of practice.
As a professional assistant, you may be more used to creating the slide deck for a presentation. But there may be times, especially as a VA with a freelance business, when you need to put something together for yourself.
If that’s a task that fills you with dread, you may find my online Perfect PowerPoint course just the ticket.
In another scenario, a boss or client may also ask you for feedback. Being able to give constructive criticism from a base of knowledge is helpful for all concerned.
If you’re a frequent user of PowerPoint but find creating slides for different brands is taking up way too much time, you could work smarter using my Master the Slide Master course.
When you know the ‘how to’ you can spend more time concentrating on creating a better story-based presentation. Good for you, good for the boss and good for your clients.
Go on, give some life to your next engagement with PowerPoint.