Powerful marketing presentations tell a story

Twenty slides into a 100-slide marketing presentation, the VP you’ve been waiting weeks to meet with starts checking his phone and a few slides later announces, “I’ve got another meeting that starts in 15 minutes. How much more do you have to cover?”

Awesome. All eyes are on you. Do you reschedule or skip to the end? Instead, you call an audible and cherry-pick the handful of slides that are critical to the conversation. Relying more on your voice than your visuals, this forced focus has just made you a better presenter.

The good news is that your presentations can—and should—be that focused every time.

If you start with PowerPoint, you have forgotten the cardinal rule of presenting: you are the presentation. Slides are visual aids to help the audience better understand what you are saying. As such, slides should be developed after you know the story you want/need to tell. There are few instances where 100+ slides improve the outcome.

When you leverage storytelling techniques, your delivery will be more effective and memorable. Use this simple 4-step process to design a more powerful presentation:

1. Plan your strategy

If you need to go to Philadelphia, do you just get in the car and drive? No, you consider the purpose/timing/duration of your trip, your starting point and who is traveling with you and how they feel about travel. You map your route and consider major checkpoints along the way, considering whether flying provides a better travel experience. It’s the same with presentation planning. Depending on the audience and context of the meeting, you may decide that a traditional marketing deck is not the best way to deliver your message.

2. Craft your narrative

Use elements of storytelling when developing your presentation. Situation, conflict, resolution. A hero (this is not you). And a rise and/or fall. Draw your audience into the emotion of the narrative. After all, it’s their story. Your program delivered the results, but your audience had the wisdom to back your recommendation and champion it internally. Keep the story tight, relatable and repeatable.

3. Enhance your storytelling

Remember your purpose and the change in attitude or behavior that you want to see as a result of your presentation. Do you have a compelling story? Is there anything that could detract from the message and distract the audience? Does every visual advance the story in a meaningful way? If not, should you improve your visual or remove it? What additional data and details could strengthen your narrative? Is there another flow that would more clearly and concisely take the audience from point A (the situation) to point B (the resolution)?

4. Polish your presentation

Once you have your story down and visuals designed, it’s time to practice your delivery. No matter how long you’ve been doing presentations, practice makes professional. No reading slides. Or reciting a script. Show respect for the audience by being fully prepared and passionate. It will set you up to better connect with your audience and sell your idea.

Make every presentation count

The power of focus can make a good marketer great. So tell it well. When your presentation has both interest and intrigue, people are more likely to follow along to find out what happens next. And when you make it their story, you invite the audience to work with you to create a happy ending.


This post first appeared on the Elevation blog at http://blog.elevationadvertising.com/blog/powerful-marketing-presentations-tell-a-story