February 2012

It’s All About the Wrapping

I hear it all the time from audience members, I’d get fired if I were to just stand up and tell a story instead of using PowerPoint the next time I gave a presentation at work.” Every time I hear this I have to restrain myself from quipping, “are you that bad at your job that one presentation given in an unfamiliar format will get you fired?” Instead, I ask them if they think that if they presented a compelling, informative, persuasive, story full of facts wrapped in sensory and emotional context that their employer would fire them. Nine times out of ten, my question is met with silence. I can almost see the wheels turning in their head, maybe there is hope for a new approach to presenting, one that engages their audience instead of boring them to death. You see when people first hear about the idea of using story in business presentations they think of story in terms of fictional contrivances like “once upon a time in a far, far, away galaxy.” This could not be farther from the kind of story I teach people to tell with the HollywoodWay. I want business people to use stories in their presentations that will hook their audiences and enable them to remember and repeat to their co-workers and higher ups, the presenter’s message in such a way that the presenter’s goal is attained. No one stands up at a presentation and spews out a series of facts or numbers without giving them some form of context. Can you imagine it, presenting by standing up and saying: “Barriers to entry.” “5 out of 220,” “China and Russia,” “Dominate Philosophy,” if that was how you presented you surely would be fired. No, all presentations involve a story, a context that wraps around the facts to convey a message. The above facts are the story of how difficult it is for many US companies to market their goods to Venezuela, who’s political philosophy is more in line with China and Russia’s. The numbers refer to a percentage of imports of a certain type of goods that are US made. Without this information, this “story,” which includes the above facts has no meaning. So, I tell my interrogator, we all already present with the use of stories at work. The difference between the type of story I train people to tell and the type of story they are telling is the type of context they wrap their facts in, nothing more. Next week: An emotional story and the why’s and how’s of using emotion in business stories.
1 Comment

Facts are facts; stories are how we learn. If you want to show off that you've done your homework, spout out a a lot of facts, numbers, statistics. If you want to show who you are, how you think, and what your really believe in and care about, tell stories.
Keep writing, Jana! This is good stuff!

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