Partners in Performance Blog

Presentations that Persuade: Stories Drive Action!

A guest post by Dr. Patsi Krakoff, author of the blog and writer/editor of Content for Coaches and Consultants.

Presentations can be really good and still not generate any action from the audience. Why is content marketing and persuasion so elusive, and what can you do drive results, to set people on fire?

When it comes to making a presentation, most professionals start from their point of view. Of course, who wouldn’t?

We’ve got a state-of-the-art 128-bit secure site, offering the best rates on the Web.”

While this business professional understands that its customers want security and low prices when ordering services online, they fail to ignite passion or spark action in readers. Storytelling can light a fire and make your presentation drive action.

Stories of real people connect with readers in a way that data and words on a screen can’t. In his best-selling book Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, published in 1997 by Harper-Collins, master screenwriter Robert McKee argues that stories “fulfill a profound human need to grasp the patterns of living—not merely as an intellectual exercise, but within a very personal, emotional experience.”

There are two ways to persuade people.

The first is by using conventional marketing rhetoric, which is what most professionals use. It’s an intellectual process  in which you write, “Here’s our company’s biggest advantage, and here is what you need to do.” You build your case by giving statistics and facts and quotes from authorities. But there are two problems with this rational approach.

First, the people you’re talking to have their own set of experiences. While you’re trying to persuade them, they are arguing with you in their heads. Second, if you do succeed in persuading them, you’ve done so only on an intellectual basis. That’s not good enough, because people are inspired to act by emotions.

The other way to persuade people—a more powerful way—is by uniting an idea with an emotion. The best way to do that is by telling a compelling story.

In storytelling, you not only weave in a lot of information, but you also arouse your reader’s emotions and energy.

Persuading with stories is hard. It demands vivid insight and storytelling skills to present an idea that packs enough emotional power to be memorable.

In the sample quote I used about a “128-bit secure site,” wouldn’t it be more interesting if the presentation included a vivid story about a client who had a bad experience using an unsecured website? Horror stories ignite emotions, which drive action.

Stories connect us to what really matters most in ways that rhetoric and facts can’t. What story have you recently experienced that packs a punch? How can you use it to light up your audience to take action?

I’d love to hear from you.

This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on November 21, 2011 in Persuasion, Presentation Skills, Storytelling. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *