Storytelling 2.0: An 1871 Workshop

1871 hosts a plethora of workshops for the many startup members, and we’re also fortunate enough to be able to attend at the Tech Garage. I attended a workshop in July called Storytelling 2.0 with Brice Clinton. Storytelling presentations are often repetitive and overdone, but he provided great insight on the story arc when dealing with presentations.

Often, the struggle with a good presentation is content versus delivery. Even if the content is out of this world, the delivery may not be able to support the great insights and discovery. It’s crucial to know how to tell the story and how to communicate with clients/others why your ideas are important and worth their time.

Presentations that are good never feel like presentations or “death by PowerPoint.” Storytelling presentations can still have slides and data, but it has to be presented with a narrative arc that takes the audience on a journey. It doesn’t have to be a grand journey, but you have to get the information across while still maintaining their attention.

Storytelling is the difference between regurgitating data and giving that data meaning. The traditional story arc is:

  1. Inciting Incident
  2. Rising Action
  3. Climax
  4. Falling Action
  5. Resolution

That probably looks familiar from your early lit classes, and it makes sense in any business application with some parallels.

  1. Relevant Change: Okay, something big has happened. Why is it relevant to your client? Why should they be concerned? Create big stakes, focus on a shift not a problem, build urgency, and grab their attention.
  2. Winners and Losers: How can you tap into their loss aversion and fear of the status quo? How can you communicate fear and triumph without making them defensive?
  3. Land of Plenty: Provide that happily ever after scenario without explaining the solution — yet. This is your business solution result but not the actual solution.
  4. Secret Sauce: What makes you different from competitors? What’s your secret sauce?
  5. The Proof: How does your client know for sure that the change will be addressed by your solution?

Beyond the actual story, you must provide the intangibles, like integrity, credibility, passion, and practicality. Even if you’re not a salesperson, you work at Accenture and are passionate about your work. If you can communicate not only your passion but why you’re passionate, you’re good.

Brice offered some loose guidelines for PowerPoints:

  • Concise with 12 slides max
  • Simple with no jargon or buzzwords (is that possible for the Tech Garage, though?)
  • Visualize with imagery
  • Close strong

Keep it genuine, and remember that not every story is the best story ever. Each time you tell your story, it will improve and you’ll consequently improve as a storyteller. I always prefer having a “script” for presentations, but let’s be real — the best presentations are ones that are conversational and you know like the back of your hand.

Do you have any presentation tips? I love writing the PowerPoints and scripts, but it’s not always easy for me to give the presentation, even after years of public speaking 🙂

++ Mary K

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