Lead a presentation like a story, advises expert

Leading a presentation is a lot like crafting a story – there needs to be a solid beginning, an intriguing middle and a powerful end.

That’s the advice handed out by presentation expert Nancy Duarte, reported by hbr.org, who has written two award-winning books on the art of presentation.

According to Duarte, the best presentations use the same techniques as great storytellers. As a result, executives who have booked a conference space for their next meeting should create a message that’s ‘easy to digest, remember and retell’.

“By reminding people of the status quo and then revealing the path to a better way, they set up a conflict that needs to be resolved,” she said. “That tension helps them persuade the audience to adopt a new mindset or behave different – to move from what is to what could be.”

The beginning of the presentation should reaffirm what the audience knows. As speakers fully understand the subject matter, it should theoretically create a bond between audience and speaker. This way, a new ‘vision’ can be introduced – ‘what is and what could be’, cites libguides.hull.ac.uk. The middle of the speech continues to play on that contrast.

“As you move back and forth between what is and what could be, the audience will find the latter more alluring,” she claims.

Finally, the presentation should end on an inspiring call-to-action, so an audience will want to act. For example, what is: “We missed out Q3 forecast by 15 per cent.” What could be: “Q4 numbers must be strong for us to pay out bonuses.” Call to action: “It will take extra work from all departments to make Q4 numbers, but we can deliver products to our important new clients on time and with no errors.”