Stories convey a deeper meaning, idea, or lesson. They make us feel, experience, identify, and understand.
Most importantly for storytelling in business presentations, telling a story in a presentation makes people more likely to remember the message.
Researchers Dean and Chip Heath found that after a presentation, 63% of attendees could remember the story told by the presenter.
However, only 5% could recall specific statistics from the event.
Because stories allow audiences to visualize and imagine an idea or message, stories also make them better able to make decisions.
In other words, stories bring buyers, stakeholders, and decision-makers to better understand and remember your message. Which in turn enables them to make a decision and increases the chance they’ll act on it.
Presentation storytelling is the art of using a narrative structure to convey information instead of dry facts. It delivers a story with a clear beginning, middle, and end that aligns with the presentation's objectives, making the content more relatable and memorable.
Storytelling in business presentations involves 2 complementing aspects: (1) textual presentation narrative, and (2) visual storytelling.
A narrative presentation is a style of delivering information where the content is structured as a relatable story. It typically includes characters, a setting, a conflict, and a resolution, and weaves complex ideas, processes, and metrics into the narrative.
A visual storytelling presentation tells a story or multiple anecdotes using visual elements like videos, animations, and interactive content.
Modern storytelling presentations apply scrollytelling design which combines visuals and text seamlessly to let readers interact with the presentation as they scroll down the content.
Storytelling is the art of describing vivid ideas, beliefs, experiences, and life lessons through stories and narratives.
These stories stimulate a listener's imagination as you take them on an emotional journey. There are many ways to tell a story.
These story structures have been shown to work for narrative presentations and corporate storytelling, and they will work for you.
The Hero's Journey: Communicates a transformation from struggle to success
The Story Mountain: Builds tension and anticipation
Story loop: Joins multiple perspectives into a single narrative
In-Media Res: Grabs attention quickly
There are timeless narrative frameworks that have worked for storytellers throughout the ages from the methodologies of old, through Shakespearian plays to Apple commercials.
The hero's journey narrative archetype involves a hero who goes on a journey and returns as a changed person.
This storytelling template consists of three distinct parts, or "acts," that include a setup, confrontation, and resolution. It makes for a well-structured and engaging narrative.
The mountain storytelling structure strategically maps the tension and drama in a story. This archetype is represented visually as a mountain, with each section building to a complex obstacle that characters need to overcome.
Think of the protagonist at the bottom of the mountain. They must climb the mountain to reach their goal (your business goals in this case). They face obstacles along the way, and they must overcome those obstacles before they can reach the top.
The story loop structure contains stories within another story. However, they aren't standalone stories.
Your first story is the most important. It's the core of your message, and you use the other stories to elaborate or explain your central point.
But you stop some of the way through it, leaving the audience in suspense. Then, you share part of the second story before moving on to the last.
Eventually, in the end, you bring it all together to make one cohesive point. The purpose of this storytelling technique is to provide context, background, or a different perspective to a central narrative.
Types of anecdotes you can use in your story loop presentation
Here's a short video explaining how to use a story loop:
In medias res is Latin for "in the middle of things." With this storytelling archetype, the narrative begins in the middle of a scene. It skips over the background of the story and gets straight to the action.
To choose the right type of story for your presentation, consider your audience, the purpose of the presentation, and the emotional impact you want to create.
No matter what narrative structure you choose, include visuals, sensory details, and precise language to bolster your message.
If you want to learn more about this storytelling archetype, check out the video below:
A well-structured story can engage and persuade your audience, making your corporate presentation much more effective and memorable.
Stories can be applied in any type of business presentation, such as a pitch deck, sales presentation, white paper, report, or business proposal.
A single document can include multiple stories that make up a joint narrative.
2. Rising Action
4. Falling Action
After developing your story structure, be sure to connect it to your core message by creating parallels and reinforcing it with examples.
Most importantly, don’t leave your audience with the realization that they need to take action without offering them an immediate way to act.
The beauty of storytelling is that the possibilities are endless. There are so many ways to tell a story in presentations. It's just a matter of finding the right one for your unique needs and goals.
Stories establish connections. But don’t confuse your story with your audience’s story.
Your audience doesn’t care about your story, and they don’t care about your product.
But they will care if they feel you care about them.
Understanding the audience's pain points, values, and opinions can help you weave a story into a narrative that aligns with their interests. It gives you the chance to be part of THEIR story.
Stop talking about yourself. Do this and see engagement blow up, conversions increase, and greater brand loyalty.
One effective presentation storytelling technique is to find common ground and share experiences with your audience to establish a connection and make them care about what you say.
These commonalities are what resonate strongest with your target audience.
Common-ground stories tell your audience a satisfied client of yours overcame a particular challenge they are experiencing themselves, and offer the lessons learned while overcoming it.
Peer envy is one of the strongest motivators you can flame in sales presentation storytelling.
Simply put it just means telling the story of a known industry player that achieved remarkable results with the help of your product or service.
A peer envy story should present the initial challenge, the journey to overcome it, and the final enviable outcomes. Yet the reader should feel they can attain similar or better results by following a similar journey.
Here's a fragment of a podcast where Michael Bosworth touches on this very topic:
Here are some examples of famous brands that incorporated personal stories to convey a powerful message in their business presentations.
The Zuora sales deck was aptly named the best sales deck ever. It is truly a best-in-class example of a transformation narrative set within the story mountain framework.
It masterfully narrates the shift to a subscription economy, emphasizing evolving consumer behavior.
And by highlighting the challenges businesses face in this new economy, Zuora positions itself as the essential solution.
The deck's use of data, visuals, and testimonials weaves a compelling story of transformation, urging businesses to adapt and thrive with Zuora or stay behind and decline.
Mign’s sales deck highlights the digital shift in musculoskeletal injury recovery, emphasizing the transformation from mass production to personalized care.
Mign applies the hero’s journey story framework and positions itself as the trusted guide in this transformation.
The deck contrasts "winners," who embrace new technologies like additive manufacturing and virtual care, with "losers," traditional manufacturers stuck in outdated processes.
Tinder's pitch deck effectively narrates the universal challenge of meeting new people and the fear of rejection.
By introducing a hypothetical user named "Matt," Tinder gives the reader a peek into the mind of their target user - an everyday nice guy scared to approach a girl he's interested in.
This concrete personal experience gives life to a basic human need that investors can understand intuitively and even relate to.
Tinder leverages this emotional understanding to make a compelling case for its solution - a platform that eliminates the fear of rejection.
The deck also applied great data storytelling showcasing Tinder's impressive statistics, emphasizing its global reach and popularity among Gen Z.
They also nail the one-liner. Their slogan "It Starts With A Swipe™" encapsulates the simplicity and effectiveness of the app, positioning Tinder as the modern solution to traditional dating challenges.
Brothers Pub's pitch deck presents a captivating local business story, emphasizing the need for a fresh, community-focused social pub venue.
The deck tells the story of the owners’ journey, from the initial concept to securing a prime location in Northampton, highlighting their dedication and vision for the future.
The deck outlines the challenges faced by traditional pubs, with 7000 closures in the last decade, and positions Brothers Pub as the innovative solution.
Legends Kratom Co. (LKE) creates a narrative around the origins and benefits of kratom. By telling the exotic tale of the medicinal tropical evergreen tree and its transformation into a beneficial supplement, the deck creates a vivid backdrop.
They take the reader on their discovery journey to Indonesia to find a supplier for the coveted plant.
This adds authenticity and allure, while their commitment to education and community showcases a heartfelt mission.
Testimonials provide real-world validation, making LKE's story relatable and positioning them as a trusted leader in the supplement industry.
Genius's pitch deck for their storytelling workshop is a masterclass in selling an experience. The deck introduces Gabrielle Dolan's expertise, setting a foundation of trust.
The workshop's structure is presented as a narrative journey, guiding attendees from novice to storyteller.
The deck mixes video, scrollytelling, and vivid language to give rich detail to the experience it promises to provide.
The 90-day follow-up program adds an element of continued growth, while alumni testimonials serve as real-world success stories.
By framing the workshop as a transformative experience, the deck engages and entices potential attendees, showcasing the power of storytelling in action.
Barbie's recruitment deck immerses candidates into Barbie's vibrant world. With playful greetings and whimsical descriptions, it sets a creative tone.
The deck focuses on Barbie’s story as a human being (doll in her case), her values, and her experience, instead of focusing on the recruiting company.
The deck lists attributes and responsibilities that align with Barbie's ethos, such as "spreading positivity" and "rocking a pink wardrobe."
Nokia's brand guidelines deck uses visual storytelling to effectively communicate the essence of the brand. It lets the visuals tell the story since they speak louder than words.
The deck begins by anchoring the audience in Nokia's mission and values, creating a narrative foundation.
It then unfolds the brand's visual identity, from color schemes to typography, weaving a cohesive story of what Nokia represents.
By providing clear dos and don'ts, Nokia ensures that its brand story remains consistent and impactful across all touchpoints.
This storytelling approach not only educates but also engages, making it easier for stakeholders to internalize and adhere to the guidelines.
nSure's one-pager effectively uses visual data storytelling to convey the benefits of their AI fraud protection for digital gift card purchases.
Introducing the challenge of ambiguous transactions, nSure lets the numbers tell the story.
With impressive numbers like their AI solution’s 98% approval rate. They can afford to.
The deck's visuals, combined with endorsements from industry leaders like AXA, make a compelling narrative that instills confidence in nSure's expertise.
Healthy.io's proposal uses video storytelling with real practitioners who tell the story of their experiences using Healthy.io’s solution.
The video testimonial from a practice nurse adds a personal touch, showing the positive impact on patient care. This brings the user's experience to the front and adds credibility to the proposal’s claims.
The proposal uses a transformation narrative to showcase Healthy.io’s remote kidney screening solution.
They highlight the challenges of legacy ACR testing against their modern home-based test using a smartphone app.
Storytelling allows you to simplify complex or abstract information and address any objections or resistance. As a result, listeners can better retain and remember the message, which improves the decision-making process.
Here are the main principles that can transform your narrative:
Authentic visuals resonate more with audiences. In an era where people are bombarded with staged and polished images, authentic, candid photos that reflect the reality of your work can make your message stand out and be memorable.
Your visuals should evoke a sensory experience. The goal is to cut through the noise and trigger a stronger emotional response.
For example, you can make the experience more immersive by adding interactive clickable elements, embedding videos, or images that highlight details or visual textures.
Scrollytelling can also play a crucial role here, allowing the story to unfold through interaction, as the audience scrolls through the narrative, engaging them in a multi-sensory journey.
You can see the difference that interactivity makes below. Which presentation would you rather read?
The stories told by your images must be relevant to your audience. Personalized visual storytelling, supported by data to understand what motivates your audience, can turn your story into an experience that resonates deeply.
Every story has characters that fit certain archetypes, such as the caregiver, the explorer, and the creator. Identifying with these archetypes helps your audience connect with the story on a deeper level, making your organization's mission more relatable and memorable.
We've curated an extensive collection of templates to help you achieve effective storytelling for whatever business presentation you need to make.
The business storytelling presentation templates below have been rigorously tested across various devices and refined with insights gleaned from real-world feedback.
They were designed with interactive storytelling at their core. They’ll serve you as handy visual storytelling aids to make your presentations engaging, memorable, and highly converting.
Grab a template!
According to neuroscientist Uri Hasson, storytelling fosters deep social interactions through brain-to-brain connections.
He found that when we hear stories, our brains mirror each other, helping us understand what the storyteller is feeling.
Called neurocoupling or mirroring, this process occurs across many areas of the brain, including the ones that are responsible for processing and understanding narratives.
So the human brain loves stories. But why?
The short answer is that neural activity in the brain increases when we hear a captivating story. Our brains are made up of neurons, which are nerve cells that send messages throughout the body.
These neurons release neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that transmit signals from nerve cells to target cells.
The most common neurotransmitters in the brain include:
When we hear a story, the neurons in our brain light up with activity. And according to neuroscientists, "neurons that fire together wire together."
This means that as we hear stories, the neurons in our brains are wiring together. As a result, we're more likely to remember the information we receive from a story.
Storytelling also triggers the release of dopamine ("the brain's form of candy") and oxytocin ("the love drug"). In other words, stories make us feel good.
Here's an infographic showing how storytelling affects the brain:
This can influence buying behavior because it helps to create an emotional connection with potential customers or buyers.
Telling a story, instead of making a sales pitch, is less intimidating to an audience.
The company or product you're describing is easier to understand, seems less complex, and provides relevant information in a format that's easy to digest and remember.
As a result, the buyer can relate to the product or service and will eventually want to purchase it.
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