Why Storytelling is Vital to Effective Business Presentations

presenting to win 2009 cover A New Edition of the Timeless Book, Presenting to Win, Explores the Content Marketing Component of In-Person Persuasion.

Whatever audience you must persuade, you need to engage them with compelling content in the form of stories. That’s easy to say, but hard to do.

As Jerry Weissman, author of Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story, puts it, "The problem is that no one knows how to tell a story and no one knows that they don’t know how to tell a story."  Fortunately, you’ll come away from reading this book armed with the necessary tools to tell those all-important stories brilliantly.

Presenting to Win, in its new expanded edition, teaches you to communicate with a purpose–whether you are convincing employees of the need to change, persuading prospects that you have the best solution to a problem or leading skeptical community groups to support your cause.

Presenting to Win overflows with practical advice on how to engage an audience by telling your story with a focus on what’s important to them. You become an "audience advocate," showing concern for your listeners’ needs that puts them at the heart of your presentation. By following Jerry’s detailed roadmap, we can learn how to tell stories that move and motivate listeners by keeping them engaged, from a compelling start to a big finish.

Jerry’s first career was as a Hollywood producer and screenwriter. His friendship with venture capitalist Ben Rosen led him to his second career as a presentation guru. In 1988, he launched a business that taught high-tech executives to move from feature-laden, techno-speak dissertations to engaging, listener-centric presentations. Yahoo!, Intuit, Cisco, Microsoft and Intel are among his clients.

Jerry offers plenty of real-world anecdotes, how-tos and helpful graphics that convey ways to grab and keep your audience’s attention. His "opening gambit" concept typifies his own story-telling approach in the book: He offers a rationale, supports it with multiple success stories and describes a broad range of gambits.

An opening gambit must pull the audience out from a possible state of disinterest or suspicion about you and your presentation. Posing questions to an audience is one of seven strategies discussed, and Jerry cites an experience by Scott Cook as an example. In 1993, Cook, founder of Intuit (maker of Quicken and QuickBooks), faced a jaded audience of investment bankers. Rather than launch into a feature-packed discussion of a new product, he asked two questions: How many of you balance your own checkbooks? How many enjoy doing it?

After a round of chuckles, he continued, "You’re not alone. Millions of people around the world hate balancing their checkbooks. We at Intuit have developed an easy-to-use, inexpensive home-finance tool, Quicken." With this "aha" moment, Cook was off and running.

Equally insightful chapters on presentation essentials provide a level of detail and clarity that leaves nothing to chance. Jerry demonstrates that even those of us who aren’t presentation naturals can present to win.

Learning what he recommends requires significant effort because his approach contains a broad range of interrelated elements that can vary, depending on purpose, topic and audience. You’ll need to devote time and effort to perfecting his method, but as leaders of Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Intuit and Yahoo! have learned, your effort will be well worth it.

Click here to buy it on Amazon.com. You can also get the Kindle edition.

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One Comment

  1. Posted September 28, 2009 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    This is a skill everyone in business needs to have. Sharing your story and using the power of the narrative to your advantage is remarkably powerful.