Bedtime with my grandmother was always a much anticipated event for me as a child. We would settle down on the bed and she would regale me with stories. Stories of queens and kings, princes and princesses, snakes and elephants, mythical creatures and mythological characters. And I would return, night after night, hungry for more stories.
When I asked my friends if they had similar experiences with stories, they all replied in the affirmative. It was interesting to see that many of them, to this day, could remember the stories they had heard as kids. And some went on to say that they narrate the same stories to their nieces and nephews, daughters and sons.
If stories are so memorable, why then do we not use them more regularly in our presentations? It is true that fact and logic is at the core of any business. Nobody can dispute the credibility that numbers bring to a presentation. However, when numbers are blandly presented with hardly any story around it, the result is a yawn inducing, boring, full of text and full of graph presentation.
A study was conducted by Origin/ Hill Holliday wherein a representative sample of 3000 participants ranging from ages 23- 65 had to assign monetary values to products. The study found that a hotel room which had only a description of amenities was assigned lower value whereas the same hotel room with a picture story from a person who had stayed at the hotel was assigned a higher monetary value.
Stories stick. Chip Heath, Stanford professor and the author of the book Made to Stick found that while only 5% could remember statistics, 63% could remember the stories. A startling difference!
There is lot of data out there in the world waiting to be transformed into a story. Data which can significantly impact the way buyers buy and consume products and services. How can this data be converted into a story worth buying? Here are four proven storytelling strategies that can help you reach out to any audience.
Let’s say that you have to sell a drug that helps anaemic women. How will you convince your buyers of the need for this drug? There are two ways of stating this need.
- In India, 20- 40% of the maternal deaths are due to anaemia and 56% of the women suffer from some or the other form of anaemia.
- Do you know the person sitting next to you? She is probably the same person that you share your lunch breaks with, your secrets with and the stories of your life with. Did you also know that 1 in 2 women in India suffers from anaemia? The woman sitting right next to you may be anaemic. Are you doing something about her health?
Which way would seem more convincing?
When data is personalized, people are more likely to see the need.
So imagine, you have designed a product which helps a complex data analysis process get done in just 20% of the time it otherwise takes to do it manually. So what? While this data is suggestive of greater efficiency in the process, your customers may not be able to really see the benefits of the product if it is just presented in terms of data. But if you present it like this –
Anand and his team had been putting in close to 10 hours every day into analysing all the business related data. But once they started using your innovative product, they are able to complete the same work in less than 2 hours. The team now has time to take on new projects and scale up their operations significantly.
You may not know Anand and his team, but their pains and successes are relatable.
You need not present every single data you have. Sift, sort and retain only those aspects that you wish to highlight. Redundant data only serves to confuse the audience. And it hardly serves any purpose.
Call this a biased approach but we are more moved by individual stories than by the sufferings of a group.
Example 1: Little Ananya is one of the victims of the floods in Uttarakhand. She lives in a camp which has scarce sanitation and hygiene. Do you want to help 10 month old Ananya and help rehabilitate others like her?
Example 2: Let’s help the victims affected by flood at Uttarakhand. 80% have no homes and are living in camps. Would you want to help rehabilitate them?
Which is more likely to appeal to you?
The primary idea here is that stories connect us with people. When people listen to stories, they are less guarded and more interested in the story that you are sharing. The emotional appeal in stories keeps them connected.
The next time around, when you need to make a presentation, tell stories. Want to know how? Meet us at SoaringEagles where we can help you with more such amazing strategies. Get ready to soar!
Check out the Advanced Public Speaking & Presentation Skills course here – http://soaringeagles.in/course/public-speaking-presentation-skills/
– Aparna KH, Learning Facilitator & Confidence Coach, SoaringEagles