When should you use story in a presentation?

by Daniel Batten on February 13, 2010

Story is the difference between drenching and quenching

Some people like visual diagrams, others like lists and stats.

Some people prefer processes and games.

Others want evidence and case studies.

But everyone love stories.


Because the story container provides a structure that can contain statistics, metaphors, visual images and more: stuff that appeal to the left and right brain. Moreover, our brains are hard-wired to learn through storytelling.

Story should be given before the information, for the same reason that you give someone a glass before you pour the water into it. Story is the container for information. By rushing to give information without a container, we not only waste our information – but we make the recipient of it unhappy.

If you rush to inform, those listening to you, whether one-on-one or one-on-one-hundred will experience the information on the outside where it drenches, not take it inside where it quenches. How many people do you know who communicate only for information and have exactly this effect on people? But it is not their fault – they were never told the correct sequence.

Stories have particular structures and rules which can be learnt, and which make a profound difference to how memorable you will be. Patricia Fripp, the first ever female president of National American Speakers Association, says that the formula for a successful story is “character, dialogue and dramatic-lesson-learned”.

Fripp points out that most people don’t remember information, they remember “the story and the picture that is created in their minds while they listen to you.” See   Fripp in action on this point.

So when do you tell your story? Before you tell them any information. This way you can be sure that you will quench tem and their thirst, not drench them while they curse.

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