There have been studies done by many institutions, including Harvard, which took a look at many great speeches, as well as business presentations and analyzed them.
One of the findings that continuously came up through these studies was the fact that one major factor was present in a lot of the business presentations, as well as the speeches: Great storytelling.
Harvard’s study, among many, found that great business presentations shared similar techniques of great storytelling. This is to say, like storytelling, great business presentations follow a format of presenting the audience (or reader) with a depiction of the current situation, and then revealing a way of which a better path can be followed. This is where the presenter – like a storyteller – presents a conflict that needs to be resolved.
It is in creating this tension that the one giving the business presentation is able to lead the audience down the path of accepting a new mindset, or adopting a new set of behaviors. This is what is known as making the move from the “What Is” to “What Could Be.” Through this, the business presentation follows the same cycle that Aristotle mapped out in his three-part story structure: The beginning, middle, and the end. This format is not only easy for the listener to digest, but also remember, and – ideally – retell.
There are a few ways you can build this storytelling methodology into your business presentation.
Take Time Crafting Your Beginning
As the saying goes, the best place to begin is at the beginning. The best way to develop your business presentation is to start off by showing your audience the world of business that they already live in.
This moment should have members of your listening audience instantly basking in recognition of the world you are painting – it is their world, after all. Once your presentation shows them that you understand their world, the audience will be more likely to follow you through your story/presentation. This is what is involved in the “What Is” portion of your business presentation. From this baseline of the norm, you can build your vision of what could be.
The process of jumping from the “What Is” to the “What Could Be” is the part of your storytelling that can be jarring, shaking the audience out of being complacent.
This kind of setup can be as simple as presenting the “What Is” as the company falling short of a quarterly financial goal because the business is spread too thin. Whereas, the “What Could Be” (the thesis of your business presentation) is that while this could be an issue, if everyone straps in and works through this, you will be able to land new clients, and do better in the next quarter.
Once you have set up this idea, you can spend the rest of your business presentation bridging the gap between the “What Is” and the “What Could Be.”
Developing Your Middle
Once the introduction of your business presentation shows your audience the gap between the reality of the “What Is,” and your projected world of “What Could Be,” you can spend this middle portion of your business presentation telling the story of how that bridge can be gaped.
This part of the storytelling mechanism works similar to how it did in your introduction. Present a familiar world with your “What Is,” and then present a solution to these issues with your “What Could Be.” You can do this by making a few quick transitions between what is, and what could be. The more you rotate between the current situation and the possible solution, you will see your audience leaning more towards your alluring “What Could Be.”
End on a Powerful Note
When you are working on how to close out your business presentation, you need to think like a storyteller even more and go out with a bang. Ending your business presentation with a long to-do list might not be the most productive when it comes to inspiring people. However, one thing you must include in your business presentation is a call to action at the end. Though, not just any call to action, yours needs to be inspiring, so that they are spurred to act after hearing your dramatic comparisons between what is, and what could be for your business.
Whether you are pushing for the team to pull together and work through the next quarter in order to deliver on new clients, as mentioned before, or calling on your team in any other manner, you can make it snappy by doing what is known as offering new bliss.
The new bliss is where you let your business presentation show that while there may be some nitty gritty work to be done, the benefits of the “What Could Be” will far outweigh the benefits of staying in your world of “What Is.”
Being a Storyteller
While there are some differences when it comes to building an outline for a great business presentation, it is beneficial for you to act like a storyteller, and focus on the world that you are working in, and where you would like to take that world.