10 things to help you build a strong story

February 13, 2010

in 10 Top Tips, Presentation Content, Presentation Structure

The story is the thing, understand that you’ve got a strong message and everything else will follow. So many business presentations have little or poor story structure.  Here’s a short post on the simplest structure for business presenters. Once you’ve got the gist of the three-act thinking, here are a few other ideas that will help you to make your points interesting and memorable for every crowd you see.

  1. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes and ask ‘if I were them what would be interesting, useful and relevant to know and understand about this subject?’
  2. Brainstorm everything you could say on the subject onto a single piece of paper.
  3. Consult with key members of the audience about what it is they want to know, don’t want to know. Then decide what you absolutely have to tell them.
  4. Go back to your brainstorm and highlight those things that now will feature in your presentation and write your presentation objectives- In this presentation I will show X, Y and Z, and explain how we came to this decision.  Then I will tell them exactly what I think they need to do and by when, to make the most of their investment.
  5. Build the storyboard- Act by act and keep on grinding until there’s a real rational, logical path through the presentation.
  6. Create a storyboard that tells the story with key scenes & content from each part.
  7. Create the visuals to support the storyboard.
  8. Add a high impact prologue (introduction) and epilogue (conclusion).
  9. Build your ‘script’ through rehearsal and repetition out loud rather than writing it out.
  10. Write your script to the level you require (bullet points are best but in some very important or sensitive presentations you have to be scripted word for word).

For more ideas on story structure and how to use it, see here.  To get regular updates through e-mail, see here.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Arpit Daniel Das May 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Great tips! Presenters can be impactful if they design a presentation with a great storyline. It helps them to keep their audience engaged. And if visuals can support your storyline, it will be an awesome presentation.
Just as you mentioned practice is important, because presenters often forget that this theory “practice makes a man perfect” is universal. Rehearse as many times as you can on how to present and you will feel more confident.
Jim, thanks a lot for sharing these tips


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