Use Storytelling Principles and Structure to Engage Your Audience

Stories are the currency of human contact.  – Robert McKee

Award-winning author and presentation expert Nancy Duarte has a new book out: HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Over the next few days, I will be posting an outline of each of the book’s sections as well as zeroing in on a specific topic.

Section 3: Story

  • Apply Storytelling Principles – make your presentation stick
  • Create a Solid Structure – storytelling principles provide a framework
  • Craft the Beginning – Establish the gap between what is and what could be
  • Develop the Middle – build tension between what is and what could be
  • Make the Ending Powerful – describe the new bliss
  • Add Emotional Texture – decisions are not made by facts alone
  • Use Metaphors as Your Guide – memorable themes help rally an audience
  • Create Something They’ll Always Remember – drive your big idea home

Create Something They’ll Always Remember

According to Duarte, placing a climactic S.T.A.R. moment in your presentation will drive your big idea home. That moment is what the audience will tweet or chat about after your talk. Use it to make people uncomfortable with what is or to draw them toward what could be.

Here are four ways to create a S.T.A.R. moment that captivates your audience and generates buzz:

  • Shocking statistics – if statistics are shocking, don’t glide over them, amplify them
  • Evocative visuals – audiences connect with emotionally potent visuals
  • Memorable dramatization – bring your message to life by dramatizing it
  • Emotive anecdote – use gripping personal stories

The presentations that are repeated have memorable moments in them. These moments don’t happen on their own; they are rehearsed and planned to have just the right amount of analytical and emotional appeal to engage both the hearts and minds of an audience.

Captivate your audience by planning a moment in your presentation that gives them something they’ll always remember.

Next: Media


This is Part 4 of a series looking at Nancy Duarte’s new book HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations, highly recommended for all leaders.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


6 thoughts on “Use Storytelling Principles and Structure to Engage Your Audience

  1. Pingback: Media – Identify the Best Modes for Communicating Your Message « 27gen

  2. Pingback: Slides – Conceptualize and Simplify the Display of Information « 27gen

  3. Pingback: Delivery – Deliver Your Presentation Authentically « 27gen

  4. Pingback: Impact – Measure and Increase Your Presentation’s Impact on Your Audience « 27gen

  5. Pingback: Engage Your Audience, Sell Your Ideas, and Inspire People to Act | 27gen

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