Let’s assume you have to prepare a speech or a business presentation. You have all the information, all the facts, all the numbers, charts, information and data you want to tell your audience. You might even have a specific goal like you want to increase sales with this presentation or motivate specific people in your company.
Where do I start?
Having a lot of data or information to communicate can put you under a lot of pressure. It’s like someone dumps a big basket of vegetables on your kitchen counter and asks you to prepare an incredibly tasteful meal for tonight’s dinner guests.
It can be overwhelming. That’s why you start by taking a step back before you actually do anything related to your presentation and ask yourself three important questions:
- WHY am I giving this presentation and what is its purpose?
- WHO am I telling it to and why should it matter to them?
- HOW much time do I have, need or want?
The brain loves order
With our brain being the biggest consumer of the body’s energy, there is a clear priority on saving energy wherever we can.
This is why the brain likes one thing in particular: order.
Why? Because when things are presented in an ordered way the brain saves time to look things up, it can take shortcuts retrieving and storing information. This means it takes less energy for the owner of the brain.
And this is where stories come into the picture. A story helps the brain to tag along like a rope to hold onto while listening to a presentation. It puts the information in an order that is easy to follow and remember.
Contrary to popular belief, our brain does not like bullet points. That is not what is meant by order. Because bullet points, lists, charts
How do I turn my presentation into a story?
So what does that mean for your presentation and how do you turn your presentation into a story?
First, let me tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that you should leave out the facts you need to communicate and just tell a funny personal story so everybody has a good time and is saving energy.
The power of storytelling, especially in a business context, is the emotional connection it creates with the audience. Recent studies have shown that when we listen to a story, our brains synchronize with the storyteller’s brain. It’s fascinating, yet essentially very simple and a powerful tool to make use of.
With this knowledge in mind, lets’ start turning your presentation into a story.
First, find your EMO!
EMO stands for EMOTION, MESSAGE, OBJECTIVE.
It is essential for you to know your EMO and it is something you should do before you do anything else, before you start writing your story or create your presentation.
- WHAT do I want my audience to feel (EMOTION)?
- WHAT do I want my audience to know (MESSAGE)?
- WHAT do I want my audience to do with this feeling & knowledge (OBJECTIVE)?
Ask yourself the following three questions to find your EMO:
The answers to these questions should be very brief, ideally one word or a short sentence. They are the structure upon which you can then write your story. Every argument you make, every line you write, every slide you create, every picture or video you show should serve to strengthen your EMO.
How do I use my EMO?
It is good practice to ask yourself at every step along the way, does this information support either the emotion, message or objective of my presentation?
If not, change it or drop it. Otherwise, it’s just unnecessary noise that will distract your audience from what you really want them to feel, know and eventually do with what you’re telling them.
In my next posts, I will look at the EMO in more detail and explain why these questions are so important, how to approach them and why their answers are the building blocks of your story.