Friday 20 March 2015

A Great Presentation Is Just A Great Story

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In business meetings or the CEO’s cabin or in a training room or spiritual sessions – where you have a group of stakeholders or an intelligent audience or a bunch of amateur or spiritual seekers waiting to hear you – that initial part of your presentation governs the consequence. It has to be a great story – people need to hang on your every word. What can you say that can be so compelling? How can you hold on to that attention till the last minute, till the key message is delivered to them?  You have to work on different parts of that story and keep the end result in focus.

 1.     Curiosity approach
When you begin a story, your audience might not have slightest idea why you are talking about what you are talking. For example if you start by mentioning Sri Ramakrishna the nineteenth century saint and his nephew Shibu. One day Shibu said to the leaves that were rustling in the nearby trees: ‘Hush! Hush! I want to catch the grasshoppers.’ Will it make any sense?

That is perhaps the best interest element you can introduce in any presentations – an original story, a great thought and a lasting impact. As you are the only person aware what should be the key takeaway, your plot gets richer with more examples, may be more questions from audience.

2.     Frame the story
This is where your researched inputs will take a form that will help you connect with your audience. Whether you are talking about how technology evolved or someone’s garage company making millions or any rags to riches story or how a young lad caught grasshoppers trying to hush the leaves around – the story has to grow to a point where the audience will be eager to know – What is your point after all?

Shibu was four or five years old and when he saw lightning and heard the clouds, “There, uncle! They’re striking matches again.” He would say. What is so important about Shibu’s childish remarks and observations? It was one of Ramakrishna’s teachings ‘Try to become like a child ’, and he set Shibu’s example to drive a point.

3.     Plan your pitch

There is just one thing more important than how you deliver – how dramatic or how stylish or how convincing becomes relatively insignificant compared to what is it that you are trying to deliver – It is ‘what’ you want your audience to carry forward that determines the ‘how’. Does it help to memorize scripts – it depends how well you manage to sync with it. It might be awkward, if you are staring somewhere in the air trying to recall something you learnt by heart. Well, the heart was not there after all.

So what about our dear Shibu – The little boy truly believed that everything was filled with consciousness – So as we all grow up, with layers of experience and conditioning, that guileless faith is the first thing we lose. No wonder the saint wanted the world to become children again to restore that faith.

4.     Onstage

It is not the looks and the voice of the speaker that matters much. Feel free to work on them – they can be important to make an impression but it is the story that creates an impact. Never let lack of stage presence diffuse your enthusiasm or energy. If you have worked on the first three sections of the story, the response will definitely be positive.

The Tale and Tell technique never fails because you stir the mind in more ways than one. The seamless transition from the origin of the story to where it leads remains with the audience – even after the story is over. So find that one story, merge with all the big data analytics and draw those much needed insights and bring home the point you wanted to.

Reference:  Shibu's story is from 'In Search of Spiritual Values' by Swami Prabhananda

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