As a CEO, managing director, manager or salesperson, when you take the stage to present your idea, product or service, you are attempting to influence your audience to arrive at your desired outcome.  

An effective presentation has a good mix of logical and emotive elements. The logical information will cater to our conscious faculty, while the emotive will connect with our subconscious.

How do you design a convincing presentation that is both logical and emotive to drive your audience to your desired outcome? Use stories.

Why use stories?

Stories interest the conscious mind
Our conscious mind constantly seeks to be engaged or it feels bored. We love to listen to stories (otherwise known as gossips) of others. Our natural curiosity drives us to want to know “what happened?”

Stories engage the subconscious mind
When we listen to stories, we create the scene in our mind. The process of mental creation (known as imagination) is the language of the subconscious mind. As we become engrossed in a story, our conscious critical faculty moves aside and the subconscious open itself.

Stories influence perceptions and actions
Our subconscious mind is the domain of our beliefs, values, emotions, perceptions and habits. When the subconscious in deeply engaged by stories, it opens itself to suggestions and influence. That is why we naturally develop a preference for certain brands and products.

As our conscious mind is usually logical and critical, information that is presented is heavily  analysed and screened. The result is ineffective influence or conviction. By using stories, we are  able to bypass the conscious faculty to influence the subconscious.

What must your story have?

This is known as the referential index of the story. Your audience must be able to relate to the character(s) in the story. They could feel like the character is like them, someone they know, in a similar situation or speaks to a part of them within.

The referential index can be a real person, a fictitious character, a cartoon character, or even an animal.  A character would preferably have a name (or some form of address) instead of just saying “There was a man……”.

Like a movie or drama serial, the opening scene usually shows the environment or circumstances the character is in. Give your story a clear context to help your audience start painting the scene in their mind.  A context could be an era, a place or an experience.

Every great story requires details. The more details you provide in a story, the clearer is the scene that your audience will paint in their mind, and the deeper they will be “incepted”.  There is a huge difference between saying “I found myself in a very old house……” versus “I saw paint peeling off the walls, furniture with a layer of dust, and cobwebs in every corner of the house…...”.

How to tell your story?

Get into the story state  
Feel the story before you tell the story. When you feel the story, you will be able to deliver it using a suitable vocal pitch, tempo and rhythm. Your audience will tune into your story, paint pictures in their mind, and feel the emotions of the story through you.

Weave in your story
Weave your story into your presentation as seamlessly as you can.  Avoid saying “I’m going to tell you a story …”.  Instead, say “When we were brainstorming on a big idea for this campaign, we recall that in 1983……”.

Act out your story
Use the stage as the scene of your story. Walk the stage, stop at different positions, and playact your story in the different characters to engage your audience visually. A good combination of suitable visuals and vocals will help to create the desired emotional states in your audience to influence them to your target outcome.

Article contributed by Jensen Siaw, a Motivational Speaker, Performance Breakthrough Coach and Communication Expert.  

To learn how to deliver a presentation with charisma and impact like a professional speaker, do not miss the workshop “Speak with Confidence” organised by STJobs on 27th August 2015. Register today to enjoy early bird prices at to attend the workshop.