No matter what the topic of your next speech or presentation, stories will give it more impact.
People forget facts, but they repeat stories. That’s why they should be at the top of your public speaking toolkit.
When you tell a story, the audience recalls similar events in their own lives and a bond is created. As a result, stories enable you to form a relationship with your listeners in a matter of seconds.
Storytelling in action
For our first example, watch Audrey Choi’s TED talk on making global capital markets catalysts for social change. Notice how she begins by telling her mother’s story to provide context.
Our brains are primed to pay attention to new information, which is one reason why our social media feeds are so addictive. The start of an unfamiliar story pulls people away from their smartphones and into the present moment as they are alerted to incoming information that’s new and different.
Stories appeal to the right-hand side of the brain, bypassing the logical and judgemental left-hand side. We make decisions emotionally, then try to back them up rationally. A story gives you direct access to that emotional decision-making centre.
In business, speakers and presenters too often try to connect with people only on a rational level. While your audience may understand exactly what you want them to and why, they will only act on your message if they feel emotionally engaged.
Criticising an audience or instructing them what they should do, say or think will probably result in folded arms and mutters of discontent. But when you tell a story you demonstrate the consequences of an action in a way that your audience can learn from without becoming defensive.
Storytelling in action
Margaret Heffernan is the former CEO of five companies. Watch how she starts her talk on the perils of organisational hierarchies with a story about chickens.
A story gives you an opportunity to communicate with more than words. Your body, gestures and facial expressions contribute to the conveying of emotion, enabling your audience to empathise with the protagonist of your story.
You can entrance your audience in a state of tension until questions prompted by your story are answered. What happened next? How did it end? Bookend your speech or presentation with the start and end of a story to keep people’s interest throughout.
Lastly, sensory details engage our brains in a different way to plain data. They are cemented into memory for longer. Include details that add to the atmosphere of your story, such as any colours, smells or sights that will help your audience visualise the scenes you describe.
Storytelling in action
As our final example, watch how Simon Sinek sets the scene with a story in his talk on why great leaders make employees feel secure.
First, download our free ebook to start your journey towards becoming a Powerful Presenter.
You’ll learn our 5-step process for transforming dull, forgettable and un-engaging presentations into your most Powerful Presentations yet: inspirational, memorable and persuasive.
It’s full of practical tips and insightful quotes that will help you make immediate improvements to your leadership talks and presentations, including:
Download your free copy of our Five Steps to Improve your Leadership Talks ebook now.
If you have an upcoming speech or presentation we can help. We’ll show you how to communicate clearly, confidently and with impact. And, of course, we’ll help you identify stories you can use and coach you to deliver them with impact.
Simply call Louise on 020 7193 0130 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
Fundraising presentations are hard work. You're bombarded with challenging questions from investors, worn out by long days, and struggling to...
Investment decision-making is not totally rational. Are you using all the tools at your disposal to create and deliver persuasive...
Do your public speaking skills inspire, motivate and influence others? They should. Many leaders are nervous of public speaking. Some...
A great investor pitch book is at the heart of successful fundraising. It should capture the essence of your business...
Better Body Language We all know that body language is important in business. But how important? And does is really...
How can you be seen as a top 1% fund by investors? At SuperReturn Emerging Markets in Amsterdam, experienced LPs...
A great elevator pitch is an essential part of your toolkit Last month I chaired the Quickfire Showcase at Berlin’s...
Better Media Interviews The excruciating Newsnight interview with Treasury Minister Chloe Smith this summer is just one example of how poor preparation...
These days, we are writing more than ever. That means it’s harder than ever to grab attention. Your readers have...
When an investor questions how you calculated your Private Equity fund's performance, how do you react? If an investor asks...
How do you choose a public speaking coach? When selecting a public speaking coach or presentation trainer, you want to work...
How To Harness Powerful Language For Leadership Communications Great leaders use Power Language to add interest and colour to even...
When you put your talk or presentation together, how do you decide what to include and what to leave out? Use...
What do LPs want from private equity funds at first investor meetings? That's the question I put to the panel...
While we wrote this piece with our Private Equity clients in mind, there are good lessons here for anyone pitching...
Do you want to give high impact talks and presentations? Do you want to engage your audience? And do you want...
Leaders use storytelling so that audiences listen, remember and act on what they say. In fact, stories are “the single...
How do you make your investment pitch more memorable? It's a real challenge these days. Investors have more opportunities than...
Your leadership talks need to be persuasive As a leader, every talk or presentation you give is an exercise in persuasion....
A well-crafted private equity pitch book can make the difference between securing a first meeting with investors and getting a...
Review our top coaching, advice and training programmes.
“The new presentation properly represents the institutional quality of our fund. It has been a step change of us.”
Erwin de Kleijn Head of IR, Saemor Capital
“This training has contributed directly to new business – including a new FTSE100 client.”
Michelle Elstein Head of Business Development, Olswang LLP
“BBA transformed our pitch into a compelling investment narrative. They undoubtedly helped us secure Sky TV as an investor.”
Gerry Bastable Director, Blast Films