JamBerry Ltd

Wednesday 7 December 2011

Ways to Design Stories For Business and Presentations (part 3)

 This is the third in a series of posts about designing stories for business and presentations. Stories are so important because, done well, they evoke emotion. And as John Medina explains in Brian Rules:

"When the brain detects emotion the amygdala release dopamine into the system - aids memory and information processing. "
1.                  Create a picture association. People relate to pictures in very different ways to words. Pictures can be absorbed and read at very different levels. There has been a lot of study to look at people's eye movements in relation to pictures and which elements of a picture they go to first.  

2.                  Create a word association. If the important part of a story is to get people to remember particular points then using certain key words that evoke an emotion each time they are used can be very powerful. If for example you have 3 key concepts that you need to get across, can they be reduced to simple words or phrases and how can you build a story around them?

3.                  Start at the end. A trick often used by Hollywood. By starting at the end and then going back to provide an explanation of how the characters got there.

4.                  When, Where, What, Who, Why, How? Ask these questions and fill in the gaps. Goes well with no. 5

5.                  Use Mind Maps. If you haven't used Mind Maps before then learn how to do so. They are great for creating ideas and then finding the links.

6.                  List of characters, emotions, place, time. This is another way to find different elements of a story.

7.                  Look at storylines of films/books/TV and substitute different elements. Most stories have already been written. Whether it is in great classics or soaps, stories remerge, reworked and with new names but often the same outcomes.

8.                  Create a journey. Most stories are about journeys from A to C via B. They are journeys of discovery about self, about others, about power and frailty, about selfishness and selflessness. It is the settings that change.

If you would like help finding your stories, get in touch.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Creating Your Own Stories for Business and Presentations (Part 2)

Looking to create stories for your business? Stories are so powerful as they combine emotion, action, heros and villains and can really bring your business and presentations to life.

To start with you need to ask yourself a series of questions.

             What is the goal of your story? What do you want to happen as a result of telling your story?

             What’s in it for the audience? Why should they be interested? Why is it important that they listen?

             How much do they already know? If an audience is new to an area, how can you make your story simple enough to introduce them to a brad concept when they don't have the detail?

             What do you want your audience to spontaneously recall? What do you want people to walk away with?

o   That the lemon was orange? (ie not what they first thought.)

o   That the product is fun? (ie: it makes them smile when they think about it.)

o   An image of the bright red balloon? (ie. a specific picture.)

o  It made me sad, but happy? (ie. a specific emotion)

o A shocking fact (one that is difficult to shift from your mind)

             Where is the best place to use your story in the presentation?

o   The beginning - to capture attention and make sure that they have got the gist.

o   The middle - to recapture attention.

o   The end - to leave them with an emotional feeling to remember.

People's attention span is short. So using stories at strategic points cannot only be used to create contrast,  evoke emotion, explain difficult topics well, but it can also bring people's attention back to your narrative. Have fun with them!

Monday 5 December 2011

Using Stories in Business (Part 1)

Using Stories in Business

I recently watched a comedian strutting his stuff on stage and was struck by his ability to tell a simple story and have the audience respond with gales of laughter. What was it he was doing that was so successful? After all he was only telling a story about buying Christmas presents with his wife. The trials and tribulations, the misunderstandings, the ultimate denouement and the punchline. The story itself was very simple and ordinary but what he was doing was very clever. He was tapping into other people's perceptions and experiences and turning them on their head. Like most great comedy, it was taking the ordinary, making it extraordinary and evoking emotion along the way.

For centuries we have used stories to pass on information. But in much of modern business life we have forgotten how to use them effectively. This is particularly true when it comes to presentations. We all know that there are millions of presentations made every day, the majority of them less than riveting. So what can you do to stand out from the crowd and make you presentations really memorable?

 Stories Stick

But why are stories so powerful? The impact of stories lies in the fact that they provoke emotion which is known to be a major influencer in maintaining interest and memory retention.

The brain processes meaning before detail. So starting your presentation with a story so that people get the gist of what you are going to say and then going into the detail improves both concentration and understanding.

It provides a series of hooks on which to hang further explanation. So you can refer back to the story and say "so when the comedian said....the audience rocked with laughter!"

By adding relevant stories at suitable intervals throughout the presentation it is possible to introduce new ideas and spark new interest and re-engage through emotion at a point when the attention might be flagging.

So next time you create a presentation, try starting with a relevant story. It doesn't have to be funny unless you are confident that you can make people laugh. If you can't immediately think of one, pinch a story line from somewhere else such as a movie or a fairy tale. Just make sure you create a relevant link.

Want to find out more about creating stories for presentations or training? We provide story telling coaching to help you find your own stories.