Think of the last good movie you watched. It likely had bright images, a compelling script, music, rhythm and heroic characters. All these elements came together and made you feel something. They made you feel an emotion – excitement, sadness or anger.

Stories, whether it’s the latest Hollywood blockbuster or just an investor presentation, provoke our emotions. They help us feel something towards the person telling the story, which helps create connection, credibility and trust.

So a good presentation must be like a good movie. It needs to balance the logic of your content (facts and data) with an emotional connection that will make your audience want to leap out of their seats and take action.

Make them feel it

Up to 90% of the thousands of decisions we make each day are triggered through our feelings and emotions. In fact, studies have shown that 74% of participants have changed their decision after their emotion was changed.

In addition, a study from Disney and Gallup, reported organisations that have optimised their customers’ emotional journey, generated 26% more gross margin and experienced 85% more sales growth than their competitors.

Are you convinced?

Good – so think about what you want your audience to feel after they watch you present. Should they feel angry and compelled to act now? Or excited about your new vision or idea?

Choose images, photos, video, and even colours, that match that mood. I’ve seen clients use video in place of static images to make their message more memorable. This emotional pull is what will impact your team’s decision to ‘buy in’ to what you are saying.

Structure your story

You also need to think about how you structure your presentation. In much the same way that directors use storyboards to map out scenes and plan production, you need to plan your presentation content and flow.

Nancy Duarte is an expert on presentations and has spent years researching screenwriting and other storytelling methodologies, speeches and presentations. In the course of her research, she uncovered a story structure that some of the world’s greatest communicators have been using for years.

It’s called the ‘Persuasive Story Form’. This structure takes your audience back and forth between ‘what is’ (current state) and ‘what could be’ (the future with your idea).

So an effective presentation has this simple three-part structure:

  1. Beginning (the now – current reality and solution)
  2. Middle (the future – create tension and contrast)
  3. End (the call to action – what needs to happen and a summary of your future world)

This is how you create tension, excitement and interest in your presentation. This is when you start to drive people to action.

Need help or want to know more? Presentation Studio workshops help you build your own team of experts by mastering the art of storytelling: