Where Are You Going With That Presentation?

Walk up to any ticket counter in any train station in any city in the world, and ask for a ticket. The first question the clerk is going to ask: “Where are you going?” You had an answer, right?

This is why I find it so baffling when I attend presentations and it readily becomes clear that the presenters do not know where they are going. Oh, they have nice slides (okay, maybe not-so-nice slides), and they move through them sequentially giving the sense that we are going somewhere. But that destination appears murky at best, so it’s difficult to tell if you have ever arrived. Next thing you know, it’s question and answer time. The questions foremost on my mind are, “Where are we?” and “What’s your point?”

I address this issue in my latest Toward Humanity blog post, “Where Are You Going With That Presentation?”. (Download the PDF.) Through a bit of a story, you can read about three perspectives for creating objectives, and various techniques for communicating them to your audience. Tell me what you think.

Telling Stories to Inform and Persuade

Everybody loves a good story. That’s why you’ve been reading a lot about telling stories when you present.

Because stories by their very nature are metaphorical, your audience can connect with your narrative at various degrees. People attach their personal experiences to your story, which enables a deeper appreciation.

The best stories have a beginning, middle, and clear ending that tell about the exploits of interesting characters who transform through the narrative, who work through some conflict that is ultimately resolved. How your audience reacts to your characters is of paramount importance. Your audience must feel either affinity or antipathy, just not apathy.

Stories can establish a common ground in a diverse group, creating a space where everyone can gain a foothold. From this point, the group can begin to coalesce and function with a unified purpose and goal. And that, my friends, is the true power of stories.

More about stories in future newsletters…