Manage episode 377321148 series 2950797
It is a mystery why more people don’t bring storytelling into their presentations. Technical subjects may seem to be oblivious to storytelling, because we are only dealing with hard data. Absolutely not the case. This type of dry talk really benefits from injecting stories into the presentation. Numbers can be brought to life through telling stories. Our minds are geared up to absorb stories much easier than a download of numbers, so it makes a lot of sense to introduce the stories behind the numbers. One of the reasons presenters don’t use more stories is they don’t have any. Or more correctly, they don’t think they have any, which is not the case.
Things happen and there is always a background and a context tucked in behind. Targets have some basis, but usually we just get the number and not the explanation of the basis. Strategic directions are set and we just hear the outcome, but we are not told the basis for the idea. You get the picture. Behind all of the things which happen in business, there are individuals and circumstances involved and this is where the stories can be found. We hear about the direction of the new marketing campaign, but that is it. We need to broaden out the WHY behind these decision and tell the story of how we got to this point.
For example, if the new marketing campaign is going to be using more influencers we need to explain how that decision came about rather than just announcing “we are going to use more influencers”. We could explain, “In January this year Takahashi san and Suzuki san in the marketing department had received a tip off that our key competitor Z Corporation was having success by driving sales in e-commerce, due to recommendations from influencers in social media. They have been gaining market share of late and initially we didn’t know why. Suzuki san did some checking on the influencer costs relative to their return and the numbers stacked up very well and so a pilot programme was suggested to test it. Over a three month period, the pilot programme showed a 27.5% uptick in e-commerce sales”.
This little vignette is a lot more powerful in persuasion terms, than just saying “we are going to use more influencers”. We have introduced characters who people will know – Takahashi and Suzuki in the Marketing Department, so this gives more credence to the talk. We have a timeline – this January and a three month pilot period, so that the audience can plot the timing. There is the bogeyman of Z Corporation getting ahead of us by using influencers and the luck of the tip off, so there is a sense of heightened risk involved if we do nothing. The outcome of 27.5% is a solid enough improvement during the pilot period to warrant continuing with the e-Commerce strategy using influencers.
All of this information was already available. The difference is the presenter harvested this context to explain the strategy direction as opposed to just announcing the direction. That WHY component is absolutely critical to getting people behind the effort. Without it, all we have is a chorus of critics and naysayers, who want to argue the point based on opinion and no information, other than the announcement. Once we feed in the background we redirect people’s brains and it is easier to get them to support the new initiative, which is what we want.
On top of the background detail there are other stories we can tell. These might involve our own experience or the experience of others in the company. For example, “When Takahashi san and Suzuki san first noticed this influencer strategy by Z Corporation, the Head of the Marketing Department Tanaka san, recalled how in her previous company there had been success using influencers and she encouraged them to investigate if we could match this strategy or not”. This lends further credence to what we are saying. Or we might reference something from research or from the media. “Last year, Takahashi san had come across a broad based five year study on influencer’s impact on e-Commerce sales covering various industries. The report concluded that for certain products and services there was a very positive ROI involved and that traditional marketing was ignoring this new trend at its peril”.
We are all seeing reports in the media about trends which influence our markets, but we usually ignore them. We are not thinking that we can possibly use some of these in our presentations and that is a mistake. Keeping abreast of trends is a basic element of professional life. Researching what is out there around the theme of the talk will quickly bring up data which we can turn into stories to support our thesis in the presentation. The key is to be looking for how we can translate information into stories. Once we have that idea as a central plank in constructing our talk, we will find there is a rich cornucopia of information out there waiting to be scooped up and converted into stories for our presentation.