Are you terrified when you need to present? Are you worried about whether you’re going to “get through?”
Think about it, whenever someone gets up to give a presentation presumably they are looking to communicate something. Or if not, someone else is looking for them to communicate something. I believe that by thinking about that communication as a dialogue of story, we, as presenters have much greater ability to move our audiences. It is only through moving our audiences emotionally that we can communicate intellectually in a way that is memorable and meaningful.
Let me say that again, it is only through moving our audiences emotionally that we can communicate in a way that is memorable and meaningful. This is a key tenant of my work, where ever it’s been. Whether designing for theater, producing special events, performing on stage, speaking to an audience, creating content for the web or even just having a meaningful conversation, when I think back to the times I’ve been at my best is always about creating an emotional connection.
One of the most powerful ways I know to create a connection is through storytelling. I’d like to offer you two incredible examples of storytelling in settings where you might not think about it that way. I’d like you to watch both of these pieces of video in their entirety, are both worth it, filled with content that you will find useful and ideas that you will find inspiring. I’m not going to provide any introduction to the videos because I want you to watch them with an open mind, and without me imposing a context. As you watch, and enjoy these videos are just a little bit about what these presenters are doing that makes them so engaging.
Did you watch both videos? If you didn’t please go back and spend the time. I promise that they’re both worth it, and I’ll still be here when you’re done.
So why are these presenters so compelling? I think that the first key issue, which Gary Vaynerchuk speaks so eloquently about, is passion. I think that it would be rather difficult to find more passionate people than Gary Vaynerchuk and Benjamin Zander. The passion alone is not enough for effective communication, they are each doing more than that. They are both telling stories. When I say they’re telling stories, I’m not referring to the small stories that they tell about experiences as a part of the talk. Each of these presentations is a story in its entirety.
They both open with strong beginnings. The beginning serves to hook us, to get our attention. In Gary’s talk he first addresses the people in his audience “just because you’re here, I know that you are going to kill it, and that’s what I want to talk about.” In one statement he begins to create a powerful rapport. Then he awakens our curiosity by telling us that what he wants to talk about is “PP.” What the heck does that mean? By causing us to ask that question in our own minds, we are powerfully drawn in.
Ben starts his talk with a humorous story that has a message. All three of these points are important. People like stories, starting with the story invites us to open up. We also love to laugh, and with this use of humor he sets a light tone for the talk even know what he’s going to talk about is quite significant. But notice, he’s not starting with a joke or a funny, but insignificant story. He’s starting with a story that has a message, that’s inviting us to be open to a new possibility and that’s setting the stage for where he’s going to take us. Once again, by the end of the first few seconds he’s caught our attention.
You see, both of these presenters are starting a powerful storytelling technique of a hook. Giving us a reason to care, and drawing us in. I could continue to analyze these presentations and how they follow the age-old storytelling forms, I’m not going to do that. I’ve already asked enough of your time, and I want to leave you with this to think about: think about how both of them reached out and connected emotionally first, and how powerful that is!
That, and one more thing. Notice, that neither one of them use any PowerPoint slides.
Note: This post was inspired when I watched the Gary Vaynerchuk video as a part of Adam Baker’s excellent blog post How NOT To Suck At Blogging