Turn your Presentations into Stories

The goal of every speaker is to communicate an idea in a way that resonates with the audience. “Resonate” means to evoke or suggest images, memories, and emotions.  Stories are the most effective way to resonate and connect with you audience.

In a previous post I discussed how you can incorporate stories into your presentations. Today we are going to focus on turning our presentations into stories?

Our first step might be to study the structure of stories. Aristotle first developed the  3 act story structure, that includes a beginning, middle, and end . We should at least incorporate this in our presentations. In high school English class you have no doubt studied the dramatic story structure shown below.


Perhaps presentations should also have a shape or structure. This shape could be used as a tool to help us create powerful presentations that closely resemble stories. Nancy Duarte studied many famous and powerful speakers  (MLK, Obama, Steve Jobs, etc) and developed a structure for presentations

Powerful Presentations

According to this structure the beginning or “what is” of a presentation is where the presenter discusses what is the current status quo or common place. This should feel normal and unappealing. The audience should be nodding along with you. The middle or “what could be” is where you present your vision for the future or how the problem can be solved. This should feel exciting. The middle of your presentation should continually remind the audience of the big gap between the status quo and a path to a better way. This creates a conflict that has to be resolved ( a key element of stories).  The end or “Call to Action” is where you would present a new utopia and describe how it will look or feel.

Lastly, here are some practical steps that you can use to turn your presentations into stories.

  1. Craft the Beginning – describe what the audience already knows and introduce your vision for the future
  2. Develop the Middle – highlight the big gap between what is currently happening and your vision for the future
  3. Make the Ending Powerful – describe how much better their world will be

Good luck


The content above is based on Nancy Duarte’s TedxEast Talk that you can find here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nYFpuc2Umk. I also referenced her website duarte.com


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