To round up national storytelling week, we have listed three presentations where storytelling made a considerable impact.
The first is a TED talk by Amy Cuddy titled “Your body language may shape who you are”.
The second is Steve Job’s well-known 2007 iPhone launch.
The third is a presentation on “The secret structure of great talks” by Nancy Duarte.
We will discuss them all in greater detail throughout the year, but for now, we will provide a summary and encourage you to watch the videos for yourselves.
Although all three have completely different subject matters, they use very similar storytelling techniques to make their presentations engaging.
The first is structure; they all use a storytelling narrative. There is context at the beginning, followed by a shift in the middle where something happens, or a question is posed. Then they resolve the shift at the end. See our articles on business storytelling, and the psychology of storytelling to find out why this is so effective.
Another notable feature is that they always put their audience first. All three presenters are experts in their subject matter, but they leave complex jargon and extra information at the door. Their focus is wholly on what the audience needs, and wants, to know.
For example, they give context to set the topic up in a way that everyone would understand, using pop-culture icons or well-known references to create common ground. Similarly, to make complex or novel information (such as the findings of a study) easy to understand, they use visual cues and personal anecdotes to make it more engaging and relatable. In Steve Job’s case, he ensured the entire audience, who were new to the iPhone, could be walked through the processes step by step, simply by setting up a live stream from the phone in his hand, to the screen on the stage.
Use of slides
Finally, all three use presentation software to help convey their message. However, it is likely very different to the PowerPoint or Keynote presentations you’ve seen before, where each slide is crammed with words, data, or graphs. These speakers use the software in a simple way which is incredibly effective. For every slide they only show a useful image, or stripped-down graph, or single sentence to add clarity or reinforcement. Most of their message is in their words, not on the screen. It is not only effective at keeping the audience engaged with what they’re saying, but it also helps them follow a narrative, rather than explaining each slide in isolation.
These techniques, alongside a few others, have meant that millions of people have engaged with these particular messages over the years. Click on the images below to watch the videos and see for yourself. While you’re watching, have a think about the successful storytelling techniques they use, and let us know what you think!
Amy Cuddy, “Your body language may shape who you are”
Steve Jobs, iPhone launch
Nancy Duarte, “The secret structure of great talks”