Presenting Something? Engage with a Story First.

By | 2014-01-23

storytelling wordleIf you talk to people, consider storytelling a critical skill to continually develop. Storytellers tend to be better presenters. If you ever doubt this, go to and watch a few expert presenters giving it their all in a 20 minute TedTalk. The vast majority start with a personal anecdote of some sort. Something that carries deep meaning for them that they want to share. Some say it’s to get themselves comfortable, or to become more in tune with their audience.

The simple fact is that everyone enjoys a good story. If you think about it, that’s often the only takeaway from many a presentation. So why do so many presenters and trainers fail to use them?

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend another multi-day session on ‘how to be a better presenter’. One of the key takeaways is to build a relevant story to help hit your point home. To get it front and center before you even make it obvious that’s where you are going.

An article I read this week, ‘13 Quotes to Inspire Your Inner Storyteller‘, refreshed me on some pertinent, impactful quotes on stories. I thought I would share them here.

If you can’t explain a concept to a 6 year-old, you don’t fully understand it.- Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
The engineers of the future will be poets.- Terence McKenna
There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.- J.K. Rowling
There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.- Maya Angelou
Those who tell the stories rule the world.- Hopi American Indian Proverb
The stories we tell literally make the world. If you want to change the world, you need to change your story. This truth applies both to individuals and institutions.- Michael Margolis
Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.- Hannah Arendt
If you’re going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all.- Joseph Campbell
Story is a yearning meeting an obstacle.- Robert Olen Butler
Sometimes reality is too complex. Stories give it form.- Jean Luc Godard
The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.- Mary Catherine Bateson
Great stories happen to those who can tell them.- Ira Glas
Stories are a communal currency of humanity.- Tahir Shah, in Arabian Nights
Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world today.- Robert McAfee Brown

So, one day I was driving down I-10 and…

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