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Don’t Make Presentations. You’ve Got a Story to Tell

By Ray Baird

Every once in a while you run across an article or story that hits home. Dennis Nishi’s recent article in The Wall Street Journal (To Persuade People, Tell Them a Story) is one of these. Business executives and B2B salespeople have replaced a well-told story and conversation with the dreaded PowerPoint deck. Don’t get me wrong, PowerPoint has its place — but it’s not a replacement for a well thought out idea or persuasive argument — Enter “The Story.”

Just the other day we were preparing for a big client “presentation”. Our team went into the mode of creating the capabilities deck, the case studies, insights, results and approach — sound familiar? Funny thing though, we never opened the PowerPoint presentation. In our experience, most of our best client meetings or “presentations” are the ones where we don’t fall tied to the PowerPoint deck. The best client presentations begin with a nice chat, followed by a few relevant stories that match up with the prospect’s pain points and make an emotional connection. We won the business.

So the next time you’re preparing for a presentation, here are a few pointers:

  1. If you have to use PowerPoint, never turn your back on the audience. You are the presentation.
  2. Never read the slides. Your listeners are way ahead of you. When you start reading, you become redundant.
  3. Find the emotional benefit/value and think of examples. These examples become your stories. Tell stories that match up with the opportunity or pain point of who you are presenting to.
  4. Make an emotional connection with the audience. Be impactful.