I was talking with my colleagues recently about our new business presentations over the last year and, discovered what I thought was a fascinating fact.
Whilst we had all gone out with presentations on our laptops it turned out that in less than 10% of all of the first meetings had we actually used it. We’d offered the audience the option of a PowerPoint presentation or for us to just talk about what we do – they had virtually all opted for the latter.
It made me think, presentation training used to be one of the first things any client relationship manager was taught. But should we now be first training them in storytelling?
Perhaps, this comes at a time when the art of talking and telling a story has suffered socially. Jokes, which used to be bandied about in the bar after work, are now sent via emails. More and more families often don’t eat together, so there is a breakdown in social communication, interaction and storytelling.
I’m detecting that clients are reacting against PowerPoint overload and have a real desire for a return to good old-fashioned storytelling — something that can inject greater emotion into whatever you are selling or communicating.
A quick trawl on the net reveals that it’s surprisingly a hot topic. Over the past decade a whole host of companies have sprung up whose sole purpose is to teach people how to tell stories, often using it as a change management tool.
I asked one of them to provide a few tips:
- Know your subject in depth.
- Don’t get bogged down in detail.
- Research stories that illustrate your main points.
- Don’t aim for more than three key points per session.
- Be able to give the gist of your presentation in one or two sentences.
- Tailor what you say to the time and the audience.
Has storytelling made a difference to your business relationships? Do you think it can be taught? I’d value your thoughts.