Once upon a time, in a far away land, there was…
Who doesn’t love a good story? I bet that most of you can remember a story or two from your childhood as if it were told just last night, even if it was decades ago. This is how powerful stories are because they resonate from within and have the potential to stick with us for a lifetime.
Storytelling is as much an effective tool in invoking some sort of emotional attachment for adults as it is for kids. This is an art that every presenter should learn and dedicate his craft for presentations are only as great as the story that‘s bound to it. To be able to come up with an effective presentation, you’ll need to make sure that your story will take you on the path of “S-U-C-C-E-S-s.”
If you want your message to linger in your audience’s minds, you have to make sure that you captivate them. You really don’t need to elaborate on fancy effects just to get their attention because that will just distract them from your core message. Sometimes, it’s as simple as identifying the problem, its causes, and what you’ve done about it. In fact, Simplicity precedes understanding — engaging them by giving something they can understand and relate to, truly defines the line between a forgettable and a memorable presentation.
To begin coming up with a story, it’s usually helpful to brainstorm for ideas first. Don’t worry about what fits in or not and don’t restrain yourself from writing down whatever you want. What’s important is that you express yourself and think out of the box. Sometimes, an element of Unpredictability (or unexpectedness) is the best way to ignite creativity and curiosity. Instead of going for the most obvious, why not surprise them by going the opposite way. This can often be done by thinking of conflicting views (positive versus negative) or by enumerating differences (contrast such as now-then, before-after, and problem-solution).
Once that’s done, you can now begin to identify your core message and segregate those ideas into groups. Ask yourself, “What do I want my audience to remember?” You certainly don’t want to overstuff your whole story with irrelevant and meaningless points now, do you? It’s in this regard that you should also be Concrete in giving contextual meaning to whatever you have segregated. People don’t just want bulleted facts, they want to understand how those ideas can be applied in everyday life.
Creating an analog storyboard is the next step once you’ve got your ideas together. This is the most crucial step for those of you who are beginners. Start by laying out your presentation with a pencil and paper, instead of on the computer. You’ll be able to visualize the storyline better if you get a bird’s eye view of the whole picture rather than having it done directly on a PC since you’re more than likely going to have to toggle between slide views just to see what you’re doing. Try to internalize your message and don’t be afraid to add or remove parts of the story as you go along. Remember, in order to convince your audience with your words, you need to be Credible enough to believe in what you’re coming up with. Start from the heart and everything else will naturally fall into place.
Now comes the fun part – sketching out your ideas into visuals. Unleash your creativity! And if you’re like me who can’t draw, then go for stick figures and simple shapes such as circles and boxes instead. In one of my projects, I had to come up with one slide depicting boredom and the first thing that came to mind was a student waiting for the bell to ring. You know how I sketched it? I just drew a small rectangle with two downward lines on both ends (desk), a small box above it (body), a circle above the box (head) with the words “bored” in it.
The key here is to embody the essence of your message and visualize your ideas to make them conform to it as a whole. Channel in on the Emotional aspect of your core message — don’t just go for the easiest idea to execute; go for what draws out the most emotional connection instead. If this step seems too intimidating for you, then there’s always the option to outsource this to a professional design company.
You’re now finally ready to create your digital Storyboard. This is when you’ll actually get a chance to mix photography, video, and art with the actual story. It’ll be a breeze placing your story onto actual slides since you’ve already gotten it up to point. Always keep your audience in mind and if you feel that you’ve strayed a bit, cut it out and return to the true essence of your story.
That’s how to come up with a story. For those who’ve been in this profession as long as I have, we can go on to skip the third and fourth step. But it really wouldn’t hurt if we go through the whole process to ensure that we’ve gotten our story down to point. In review, remember to:
- Brainstorm for ideas;
- Identify your core message and segregate them into groups;
- Create an analog storyboard;
- Sketch out your ideas into visuals; and
- Create your digital storyboard.
The best presenters are indeed the best storytellers. Just follow the path to SUCCESs while performing the above steps and you’ll increase your satisfaction ratings in no time.