Make minutes count in your presentations. Here are two suggestions:


1. Use stories and examples.

Stories are powerful. Think about the way a child listens with open eyes when you tell a story. The child becomes emotionally involved and pays close attention because he or she wants to know what’s going to happen next. You want the same thing to happen to your listeners, no matter whether they are adults or children.

Realizing this, make sure your entire presentation unfolds like a story. When you do this, you stir up interest for your audience — just like interest gets stirred up for a child. It makes your listeners want to keep listening to what you are saying.

2. Be certain the stories you use have messages or points that link to the ideas you talk about in your presentation.

Telling a story simply for the sake of telling a story detracts from your presentation. Be sure the stories you tell illustrate the points you deliver in your presentation.

For example, if you want to make the point that planning is important, you tell the story of Jack and Jill going up the hill to fetch a pail of water. Following the story, you might say, “Jack and Jill came tumbling down because they were unprepared. We want to prevent that from happening to us by preparing carefully for this project.”

Notice that I just used an example and a story in the above paragraph to encourage you to stay involved and pay attention to the point I’m making.

Many people say, “I can’t tell a story in my presentation because my listeners are business people. They want logic.” I say, “Stories create a sense of involvement for your listeners.”Stories create “movies in the mind” and connect logically and emotionally. Stories also make you — and the points you describe — unique.

Other people say, “Heck, Chuc, I can’t think of a story.” I say, “It’s a good idea to jot down stories when you see them on the job or in your personal life.”

Think with me for a moment. Maybe you see something funny happen at the airport, for example. Write it down. Now suppose something unusual or dramatic happens to you on the job or in your family, write it down.

Notice how I just used another example to keep you involved and deliver the point I’m making.

Professional speakers know that stories are difficult to remember when they are under pressure to create a new presentation, so they keep notebooks of stories. Whenever they see something funny or clever, they write the details in their notebook. Then, when they prepare a new presentation, they check their notebook for a story that helps them convey the point they want to make.

It’s a lot easier to come up with a “perfect” story for your presentation when you can choose from several in your notebook, rather than have to think of a story from scratch when you’re hurrying to create a presentation.

Now think of a presentation you have made to someone sometime in your life. Maybe it was something you told your family. What happened, good or bad? You now have another story. Write it down. Who knows? That story might help you illustrate a point in your next presentation. Then keep watching for stories you can use in your presentations.

In summary, be sure you keep your listeners involved in your presentations by using stories and examples. This will help you make the minutes count in your presentations.

If you want more suggestions, you’ll find 76 tips in my book, “Capture the Moment.”

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