Why Stories Can Be Crucial For The Marketing Presenter
To further top up and hone our techniques, we often attend courses and seminars that give us guidance on how to overcome nerves, how to better use eye contact, vocal variety, body language and gestures, how to structure a pitch or presentation, and how to use visual aids.
However, an area we perhaps sometimes crucially overlook is what to actually put in our presentation; what will really make it come alive, and give it that almost magic ingredient that will have the audience held in the palm of our hand? What is that special formula that ensures we create an empathetic bond with the audience, and more importantly, makes people actually remember for a long time what our actual message is, rather than generally forgetting it after a few weeks?
There is no better way to make our presentations memorable than by using stories.
‘Oh no!!’ some may say. ‘We can’t do that. We have to get our facts and figures across, the benefits of our products. We need to show our PowerPoint charts and graphs and wrap these up in plenty of industry jargon about measurement and ROI.’
But perhaps it’s time, particularly in this more challenging economic climate, that we need to think bout sharpening up our content up, and distinctly differentiating our presentations and messages from those of the competition.
And what better way is there than to tell unique stories about our company and our products and services?
Stories about how our products actually help people and our society, about what we stand for, what our mission is and values are, what our company is like to work for. Real life stories full of drama and suspense, conflict, struggles and difficulties overcome, rousing successes and triumphs; stories about people and their experiences of and with our company. Stories that the audience can immediately relate to and think ‘wow, I’ve been in a situation like that’, or ‘I’d love to have been in a situation like that’. Stories that build us that emotional link with our audience, and thus enable it to buy in far more to the message we are trying to get across.
The very best and most inspiring business presenters I have heard, from all sorts of fields and industry sectors, have all been great storytellers. And if you listen to such people presenting, they use memorable stories that stick in the mind long after they have finished, something which the even the slickest presenters fail to achieve if they have simply played safe with their content.
On a personal level, I have sometimes had to give marketing or corporate presentations about subjects or products that at first glance could hardly be called stimulating, except perhaps to industry die-hards. However, by including stories within these presentations, I have often been able to create entertaining and memorable experience for the audiences. And more importantly, they have then remembered my main messages - which was the main purpose of my speeches in the first place!
In some cases, I have even had people approach me at events some years I after I have delivered a particular presentation, and they have said, ‘You’re the guy who told that story about...’ The great thing is that they can then recount the main elements of the story, but, more crucially, they have remembered the point I was making within it, thus confirming I wasn’t just telling the story for the sake of it.
But why do stories work so well? Well, apart from being an intrinsic part of our human nature, and something we have been listening to as people since time immemorial, well-told stories have also been proven to work on a scientific level. This is because they appeal to both sides of the human brain: the left logical side, which likes structure (and a good story has a definite beginning, middle and end); and the right creative side, which loves to hear a compelling narrative told in sensory and riveting language.
In the business and marketing world, there are so many types of presenters, but if we do want to be exciting and, above all, to be remembered, by telling stories within our presentations - stories that are unique to ourselves and our companies and that no-one else will have heard before - then we stand a far greater chance of our marketing messages being even more powerful.
About Andrew Brammer
Andrew is a member of Toastmasters International where he holds the highest qualification of Distinguished Toastmaster. In 2000 he won the UK and Ireland Humorous Speech Championship. See: http://speakingwords.co.uk/ and www.toastmasters.org