Once upon a time…

…there was a girl, she got married.

Not really a page turner, is it? Unlikely to hold the attention for very long, sell many books or be a particularly exciting screenplay. Yet it sums up the story of Cinderella. And so it is with many presentations; “Here is our audit, things are okay.” It may encapsulate your data but no-one will care, no one will remember because no-one is involved or engaged by what is presented.

The arc of a story describes the trajectory of emotion and thus involvement of the audience in the process of the story (p1).  If this arc is totally flat, the audience will care very little and there is no reason they will change their position from the beginning to the end of your presentation. “Are the interim projections good? Yes they are.” “Oh, okay then.” If however the audience develop a personal and deeper understanding of the unfortunate position of the downtrodden step daughter, if they get excited at the involvement of the Fairy Godmother and the potential for magic in her life to solve some of the deeper issues, if they see the girl’s passion and emotion and the tension around the glass slipper scenario with the possibility of both losing and gaining happily ever balanced on one decision, then they too may travel to the heights and depths of the story with you and arrive at the end involved and more likely to remember the story and what it evoked in them. 

That doesn’t sound very much like the audit you just completed or the business case you need to present though? Simply stating the bare facts will engage very few; they would be better delivered by a document. The role of the presenter is to make the relevance, the connection, the understanding and the importance of those facts for the audience and their needs.

How do you do that? Only you know. That’s your job. That’s why they have asked you. You know the audience, you know what they are interested in, what excites them, what amuses and engages them, you know what would intrigue them and stimulate them, yes, even about your audit. If you don’t know, then find out, ask them, think about it, why should they care or be moved by the 2nd Quarter results? Not simply because they exist. If you don’t make these facts relevant or interesting, then they won’t be excited, engaged or stimulated. You might as well have sent a pdf. Now construct a story (p1) that addresses those needs. This is the arc of the story.

How you do that is another story.






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  1. Pingback: My First Teaching Session - p cubed presentations

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