The oldest and most effective way to get your point across is through a story. For thousands of years, people across all cultures and religions have used storytelling as a means to educate society. Stories have emotion and empathetic characters which is why they not only resonate, but are also memorable. The key word here is, of course, “memorable.” There is no place where being memorable is more crucial to your success and growth as it is in the workplace. Whether you’re working on a new client pitch, presenting a new strategy to your coworkers, or conveying the next great idea for your company, you should know what it takes to be truly memorable.
So what can you do to make sure your next presentation is a homerun? Take notes from your CEO…
Presentations are the Lifeblood of Business
The best presenters are the best storytellers. The CEO is usually the best storyteller in the company. Motivating people to act is integral to his/her and the company’s success. Sales people also tend to be good storytellers, since their success is directly related to their ability to connect with their customers. But in reality – it really doesn’t matter which department you are in – the ability to present an idea, new business plan or strategy is crucial to your success at work.
Take researchers for example. A researcher can present dry statistics with charts and graphs, and probably bore everyone to tears. But a great research presentation will tell the story of what that data means on a human level, with relatable characters and real feelings. Which presentation would you prefer to sit through? If you’re not a robot, you’ll opt for the one with real people. It’s more interesting and memorable.
In the business to business world, most of us rely on PowerPoint as the medium to tell our stories. And for most of us, the thought of sitting through yet another PowerPoint presentation is enough to want to poke ourselves in the eye with a very sharp pencil. So let’s make the business world a better place, one presentation – one story – at a time.
Success is Driven by Smart Executives
We’ll use FedEx as an example. The anecdote of FedEx is NOT the logistical genius of strategically placed shipping hubs combined with a fleet of trucks, cargo planes and ships and force of 250,000 delivery experts. Those are certainly elements that make the company successful. But their corporate story is about helping businesses succeed.
Think of a hard working executive under pressure to meet a deadline. The executive is feeling tired, stressed and fearful of failure – losing a client or losing her job because she might not deliver. All strong emotions that we can relate to. Using FedEx, she can work until 9pm and still get her product delivered to her client by 9am the next morning. She gets more time to work and succeed and her client is pleased to have the product on time. The sale is closed. Everyone is happy.
For this FedEx Presentation, you could use images of stressed executives and combine them with facts about FedEx’s locations and guarantees of timeliness. You might not remember their locations or schedule, but you will remember that the executive was able to turn a harrowing situation into a success story. That’s something we can all relate to, and something most of us aspire to.
The next step is to make that presentation available to the rest of your colleagues at your company. Once you have a good draft of your presentation, take an objective step back and consider how that presentations and the slides within can be used across the enterprise, beyond your one meeting.
Make the Slides for the Enterprise
That last step, make the slides for the enterprise, will have the biggest return on your investment. It is critical for an effective presentation management strategy. The four hours (give or take) you (one person) spent preparing for one meeting, can now be used over and over by hundreds of people for hundreds of meetings. That’s time well spent.
Furthermore, having great stories, which are now encapsulated in great presentations, readily available will make everyone better storytellers, no matter how charismatic they may or may not be. And who is the best most charismatic storyteller in your company? The CEO. Presentations for the enterprise will make everyone present like the CEO.
AlexAnndra Ontra is the President of shufflrr, a presentation management company.