We are a culture addicted to stories. From our ancestors’ cave paintings to today’s reality TV, blogs and beyond, our lives are inundated with stories. According to Wikipedia, “Stories or narratives have been shared in every culture as a means of entertainment, education, cultural preservation, and instilling moral values.” We read books, we watch movies, we go to the theater, all to quench our insatiable desire to connect with a great story.
Did you know that in a business presentation, your audience is 20 times more likely to remember a fact if it’s wrapped in a story? Here’s a theory as to why: as you tell a personal story, you have a clear mental picture as you recall the details to your audience. Your sense memory is working overtime: you can see, hear, smell, (maybe even taste!) all the specifics of your story. And just as you’re watching the “movie in your mind”, so is your audience. Sure, they don’t know what you were wearing that day or the way the crisp fall air smelled in that moment, but nonetheless, they are personalizing YOUR personal story with their own imaginations. This is often why people enjoy a book more than the movie adaptation of the same story – when reading, each individual reader uses his unique imagination to personalize the story set forth by the author. Stories are the ultimate visual aid – much more powerful than any PowerPoint.
Need even more reasons to share those story ideas? Stories, or anecdotes, are fantastic tools for a business presenter as they allow the speaker’s personal stamp to shine. Stories engage, persuade, and entertain an audience. In business, stories serve us well because they take the audience’s focus away from the facts and figures only to come back to them with a clearer understanding. The trick to good storytelling is keeping it relevant and concise. Think short and sweet with a clear beginning, middle, and end. Think analogy, examples, imagery, and lessons learned. Paint a picture in the minds of your audience. The more the stories in your business presentation are connected to your own life, the better.
What is your experience with storytelling in the business world? As an audience member, have any stuck with you over the years? Do you use them yourself when presenting? Drop us a line below and let us know!