Yesterday, Alex Rister shared one of decks we now use in the online iteration of Professional Communication and Presentation, and today I’d like to pass that knowledge along. “Storytelling: Using the Most Powerful Information Delivery Tool” lays down a few basic principles and ideas about this very sticky method of communication. Storytelling is a cornerstone of the human experience. What a statistic cannot communicate alone, a story can bring to life. The deck begins by explaining the difference between report, whose purpose is to inform, and story, whose purpose is to entertain. A presentation happily lives in the middle of these two and can really help bridge the divide between informing and entertaining. But, it’s the use of story IN the presentation (and not just the slapping of a story in at the beginning or end of a speech) that really makes it so powerful.
As Nancy Duarte discusses below and Alex reiterates in the deck, we should work to layer story into an informative or persuasive speech as one layers a cake (a little info, a little story, repeat).
The deck goes on to explain what makes an effective story (conflict, characters, details, clear theme) as well as comparing story structure to presentation structure. In terms of design, Alex follows the SIMPLE method by keeping her theme unified (one typeface, Ostrich Sans, used in two weights; two contrasting colors used for emphasis, a repeated use of shape), focusing on one idea per slide, and applying the picture superiority effect consistently.
Do you incorporate story into your presentations? What types of stories do you find resonate with your audiences? Do personal stories work best?