Perfect presentation – tell it with your story!

The story behind Steve Jobs & Co.

People are fascinated by a good story behind the facts. If the old Homer had simply told that the Greeks had a war with Troy, today only a few historians would discuss the events of that time.

But Homer told of a tragedy of love, hate, heroism, cunning and downfall. The material is still read today after almost 3,000 years. Or think of the current film adaptations about Apple and Facebook. Was it about the technology and the opportunities it presents? No, it was about the people behind it. Who was this Steve Jobs anyway? How did Mark Zuckerberg come up with the idea of designing a social portal? That’s what people are interested in. But how does that work with the presentation of a medium-sized screw manufacturer on the current range of screws or with the status report of a sewage plant under construction?

Storytelling – a tried and tested method

If you simply list bare facts and figures in your presentation, you run the risk that your audience will eventually tune out. However, if you succeed in embedding the content of your PowerPoint presentation in an interesting story, you stand a great chance of having the audience hanging on your every word.The art of finding and telling the story behind the facts is called storytelling.

People love a good story. It was no different around the campfires of the Stone Age than it is on the current bestseller lists of major publishers. And we all know what makes a good story. At the latest when we have struggled through a boring novel or been annoyed by a bad feature film, we realize how it doesn’t work. If the content is implausible, the characters pale, and the plot convoluted, we quickly lose interest.

The story must captivate us emotionally, be comprehensible and have an arc of suspense. Although this is all kind of obvious, writing a real bestseller is still a big challenge. Unfortunately, it is not quite that simple. Should we then continue to deal with the topic of storytelling at all, or is that just the job of writers, journalists and screenwriters? Do you need good stories for a presentation?

Yes. Because there are so many points in favor of a good story. Good stories:

– stimulate far more areas of the brain than pure facts
– arouse more attention
– inspire to think along
– establish an emotional connection with the reader/listener
– give meaning and significance to a fact
– Involve the listener/reader and let them think and feel along with you
– are entertaining
– make difficult facts appear more comprehensible
– stimulate the own imagination
– are better stored in the brain than the pure information
– are gladly retold.

Modern marketing has long since discovered the sale of products via good stories, i.e. storytelling, for itself. It’s not just another form of advertising. Stories are simply in our blood and have a much stronger effect than the enumeration of pure sales arguments.

Any substance can promise excitement

At first glance, it seems that many events simply cannot provide material for stories. They seem too banal, too dry, too mundane. Presumably, a groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of three duplex garages by the local government  in Niederbrombach will not turn into a classic heroic epic that people will still be talking about centuries from now. But there could be a good story hidden here, too. You just have to look for them. You may come across a mayor who takes his duty of care to his employees very seriously. You might even come across a small tragedy about a car that was parked inconveniently due to lack of parking spaces and caused an accident.

How to find your story!

The story behind a product or service  is not always immediately apparent. Maybe customers or employees need to be interviewed to find the right story. Sometimes the exciting story is not necessarily the end product, but the idea behind it and the development. A small spare part for the tank of a transport machine is not necessarily exciting at first. But when the development engineer has been looking for the solution to a particular problem, things get interesting. If he designed it with special considerations in mind so that it helps prevent the ignition of kerosene vapors, then the unassuming part saves lives.

The following questions may help you:

– Who had the idea for our product and why?
– What problem did the customer have that we solved?
– How did the customer feel after we solved his problem?
– Who are our customers? What kind of people are they, what do they stand for?
– What do customers say about us and our product?
– What do we want to achieve for our target group?
– What might our solutions have to do with our own history?
– What is special about us? What sets us apart from the competition?
– Who do we want to tell our story to and where?
– Can we tell our story in a way that our target audience will understand?
– What message do we want to convey with our story (e.g. we always find a solution, we are more innovative than our competitors, we are the pioneers in our field)?
– What emotion do we want to evoke with our story (e.g., astonishment, excitement, admiration)?


If you tie your presentation to a good story, you have the best chance of getting your audience to really listen to you. You can use storytelling to introduce your presentation. It’s even better if you weave the story entirely into your presentation, and by the end of your talk, the story is finished as well. Even if you want to present a high-tech product using the latest presentation technology, you should never forget that in many respects people have changed almost nothing in the last 10,000 years. This is especially true of our passion for good stories.