For presentations and big idea pitches, a good story draws people in. They stop and listen. They hear and remember. Stories are an good way to change our attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.
As social creatures, we all have some level of empathy that allows us to understand how others feel. By showing how our hero FEELS, research has proven that more viewers related to and listen to the key points the hero makes. And weeks later, they are able to recall those points.
From this research, two basic requirements are clear:
- The hero should be someone who arouses our empathy.
- The story should make us FEEL rather than think.
Stories are shared, cultural narratives – we all fall in love, we feel embarrassed, we love to win a prize. The Dad cheering his son on at sports, the Mom cooking a colourful meal. These powerful heroes are familiar to people of every culture, language and age. That’s their power.
What are the key elements of a good story?
Stories Have a Protagonist
The story needs a main character – in for the pitch that character is usually you! A challenge you face, a challenge you will overcome with the help of the audience.
Stories Have Conflict
In storytelling, conflict is the basis of plot. There has to be failure in order to show success.
Stories Have Structure
Stories must have a beginning, middle and end.
- Beginning: Introduce the main character and the conflict or problem they face.
- Middle: overcoming risks, obstacles put in the way, challenges and objections.
- End: Reveal the solution and how the hero achieves their goal.
Stories have Pacing
You can’t just add the element of the story to your presentation, and call it a story. Stories that move people to action make using of timing and pace to drive the action forward. You can’t just throw in a whole bunch of benefits, you have to build suspense. And you might choose to tell the story backwards, or out of order to improve the pace and the surprise.
When does storytelling work
We know that people are more motivated how an idea will improves lives rather than how it makes and sells goods and services. Higher purpose is easier to explain and tell through a story. The story of the founder. A story of one employee who made a difference. The story of a customer who was able to achieve more.
When you want to motivate, persuade, and be remembered, start with a story of human struggle and triumph. It will capture people’s hearts, and then their minds. Good storytelling is information, inspiration and interaction, rolled into one!