1. Mindset & mood (your general mood and that from the moment of construction of the presentation)
This process of creating a presentation, actually, of trying to “enlighten” the mind and soul of every person in the chosen audience, is a very important and also a beautiful activity. Enjoy it, understand its purpose completely, and give the best of you. Create the best presentation of your best version. Also, when you start working be positive, relaxed, willing to give something, something valuable, something that generates change. Give it enough time.
Remember – enjoy the process, give it importance and time – you are one step closer to create the presentation that tells a story.
2. Who do you speak to? Empathize!
This presentation is a message that starts form a person (you) and gets to another person (from a group). Start from this premise, you communicate with a person. It’s important to know that person, to understand him/her, to empathize with him/her. Otherwise, you won’t be able to tell a story, you will only communicate some data.
Who do you turn to? Who is the person in front of you? Create personas (name, surname, the place where he/she lives, studies, age, gender, family, income, habits, behavior during a day, etc.) – it’s ok to use/create personas that are relevant for your communication purpose. That means that if you look for the professional side, try to cover as much of the behavior in the office as possible through personas). What are his/her needs? What are his/her expectancies? How much time does he/she have and how prefers communication? etc.
Try (before making the presentation) to observe the audience, to interact with them, to discover them, to know them very well, so you can able to understand, to empathize with each person. That is how you can tell a story.
3. What communication objectives do you have?
If only the audience could remember one thing, which would that thing be? For example, from this article we want you to remember that a presentation reaches its purpose if it tells a story. So choose a central idea, just one.
You can also set, besides the main idea, 2 other ideas. But never more, you won’t be able to transmit all of them in one presentation – maximum 1+2.
The main idea has to be simple, to represent a profound meaning, easy to understand. You will have to often repeat it, in as many slides as possible (whether it is written or spoken). The other two ideas must be connected to the main one, to flow from it.
4. Context and structure
What is the communication context? How do you interact with the audience? Will the presentation have a large audience, a small audience, will it be sent by email, held in a sales meeting, in a pitch? This aspect is very important. Depending on it you will use a certain way of creating and presenting. For example, for pitches, we recommend printed infographics, for a large audience PPT slides with little content, for emailed presentations animated brochures that allow interaction.
5. Tell a story
You are in the following situation: you have an audience (and personas), you know their needs, expectations, behavior; you want them to remember the main idea (+ 2 derived ideas), you have the context (you know how you will communicate) – now it’s time to tell them a story. Only like that, you will capture their interest. What does telling them a story means? It means to empathize with them and speak about real or imaginary experiences that connect in a logical manner with exposition (characters, place, time), intrigue, conflict, action, and ending. It can be about yourself, your experiences (but watch out, don’t turn yourself into a hero, don’t forget about humility). People open up when it comes to stories, they feel empathy when they hear stories and see people, they feel emotion. Emotion, don’t forget about it. A story has got emotion. Be authentic! Feel what you speak about!
You are in the following situation: you communicate with him/her (the person in the audience) either directly or indirectly (through a presentation sent by email). It is important to generate interaction. This is a way to make new communication bridges or strengthen some that already exist. Interaction is a way to generate/amplify empathy.
Nowadays, interaction can be created in any form of communication, either direct or indirect.
Pay attention to the presentation design. There must be harmony and, especially, there must be a lot of graphic content – photos, logical schemes. In the context of a presentation sent by email, more text can be used. A good design is a simple, clean one, where the elements are in balance and the information well arranged and presented in a carefully chosen order.
To what extent the presentation can be correlated with the brand elements of the organization? Does it show the vision and values? Is it in harmony with the brand promise, with the brand character? To what extent is the style guide followed?
Start from the premise that really valuable things are the really simple ones (less is more). Simplify! After the first draft, simplify! Seek every moment to give up new meanings and ideas to focus on what is important. Simplify!
10. Switch roles
Put yourself at every stage in “his/her shoes” (the interlocutor). See to what extent there is empathy, relevance, valuable content in your behavior and presentation. Be critical and improve every aspect at every stage. Switch the role!
11. Better, simpler
Give yourself time and check several times the presentation. Grind it, just as a jeweler grinds the gemstone, to get the most out of it.
If the presentation is to be held in front of a large or small audience (not sent by email), practice. Nothing will help you more than to practice. Be critical. Is there empathy, relevance, valuable content in your behavior and presentation?