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A compelling anecdote on why today’s business leaders need to rethink their presentation-development process

In Chapter One of our Effective Storytelling blog, we discussed the importance of creating a compelling narrative before jumping into the deeper waters of slide deck creation. In today’s PowerPoint-obsessed world, a hyper-focus on slide development can suck the life out of your story all too often.

To help you build a captivating narrative and then create a slide deck that supports your story, we offer the following 7-Step Process to Effective Story Telling. These steps will ensure that you are not just creating a slide deck, but also telling an exciting story that helps you achieve your presentation goals.

1. Determine the goal of your presentation

  • What’s the point of the presentation?
  • What is your “call to action” for the audience?

2. Understand your audience

  • What is the composition and demographics of your audience?
  • What are their goals in hearing you speak?
  • Do they have perceptions or agendas that will affect how your message will be received? Be careful not to offend and try to play to the crowd if possible.

3. Focus on a theme

  • What is the high-level message that you want the audience to take away from your presentation? Keep in mind your desired “call to action” from step 1.

4. Determine your key supporting messages

  • What are the messages that support your theme and will help your audience to understand your point or compel them to act?

5. Create your narrative

  • Draft an outline of your story and practice delivering it out loud. If possible, work to bring in a few colleagues during the process for feedback early on.
  • Throughout this process, constantly ask yourself – what is and is not working? Now is the time to take out the red pen and make edits!
  • See our thought leadership piece on “Investor Relations Messaging: Telling a Story Investors Want to Hear” for more information on creating a compelling investor narrative.

6. Then and only then… create the slide deck

  • Stop! Have you gone through the previous steps? Be truthful! Only after you have created the narrative should you move to slide development.
  • When you do start developing your slides, focus on producing slides that are light on text and leverage compelling graphics in support of your overall narrative.
  • If you have any “bullet slides,” ask yourself if a graphic can better tell the story. Check out our thought leadership piece on “Giving Life to Your Investor Presentation” for more information on slide development.

7. Rehearse your delivery

  • Ensure that you are using proper body language, tone, vocal variety, and energy to capture the attention and goodwill of your audience.
  • Practice, practice, practice! Again, bring in your colleagues (or family members – just make sure to ask nicely!) to provide feedback on your delivery.

Note that only one of the above seven steps has anything to do with slide creation. If it’s not clear already, we encourage you to return to the first chapter of this series, where I described the pitfalls of focusing too much on slide development.

At Sharon Merrill Advisors, we help executives to develop their narrative, create slide decks that support their story, and deliver their presentations in a dynamic fashion for results. Contact us here.

David Calusdian

David is an accomplished communicator with more than 30 years of experience in advising and coaching CEOs, CFOs, IROs, and boards of directors through a range of critical communications events, including IPOs, quarterly earnings results, executive transitions, and M&A. David is an acknowledged authority on executive presentation coaching, investor relations strategy, investor day execution, and strategic messaging.