Our brains are hardwired to respond to stories. The hero struggles, discovers unknown abilities and eventually triumphs. We can’t get enough of this narrative, cue the next superhero movie.
Now, what does this have to do with webinars?
When we think about presenting, we usually focus on the look of our slides and what we’re going to say. But just as important as what we say is how we say it. Are we rambling off stats and pain points? Or are we developing a story?
Whether we’re giving a presentation or hosting a webinar, we should think of ourselves as storytellers. That’s how to put on a webinar that drives action.
Since it’s been a while since any of us took a high school English class, here’s how to incorporate good storytelling techniques into your next webinar. Spoiler alert: it all starts with a good beginning, middle, and end.
In the beginning, create tension.
To start your presentation, you need to create tension. An article in Psychology Today explains:
- If you develop tension, you will sustain attention.
- If you sustain attention, it’s more likely your audience will begin to the share the emotions of the main characters in the story.
- If people share the emotions of the main characters, they are likely to mimic the behaviors of the characters when the story is over.
- Listening to a character-driven story increases the likelihood that listeners will trust the storyteller and take the actions the storyteller recommends. (This is because the neurochemical Oxytocin is released and motivates cooperation with others. Crazy, right?)
So you can see it’s important to create a story around characters and start building tension for those characters right away. To create tension, show the gap between what is (the current problem) and what could be (the solution). By amplifying the gap between those two points, you’ll create more tension and capture your audience’s attention.
In the middle, go back and forth between the problem and the solution.
The bulk of your presentation goes back and forth between what is and what could be. By doing this, you make the status quo very unappealing, and you help your audience see how much better their life would be if they adopted your idea.
This back-and-forth action is a great way to avoid resistance, especially from people who love the status quo. This tactic actually addresses the opposition from the start. If you continually compare the norm to a better future, there’s a better chance the naysayers won’t … nay.
In the end, show the new world.
This is the point where you show what the world would look like with the problem solved— Frodo destroyed the ring, Voldemort is dead, that grumpy guy does, indeed, like green eggs and ham. This is where you convince your audience that the future you envision is utopia.
Now that your audience has accepted your idea of future bliss, you throw in a call to action. Your audience feels great after seeing what the future looks like, so your CTA needs to be just as inspiring. Use the high note of your story to encourage your audience to take action.
To learn more about using this structure in your presentations, you can watch Nancy Duarte’s TED Talk below.
To take your storytelling skills to the next level, here are some other elements that will make your presentation even more memorable.
Add more slides
There’s no limit to how many slides you can include, so use as many as you want. Don’t stuff multiple ideas into one slide; focus the content of each slide. Keep the slides coming to keep the energy up and the flow moving forward.
Use more visuals
Great photography is an easy way to add interest to your slides and keep your audience’s attention.
Use a dynamic speaker
It doesn’t matter how good your story is if the speaker puts everyone to sleep. Make sure your presenter is passionate and charismatic and well-versed in public speaking.
For more tips on delivering a compelling presentation read our 10 simple public speaking tips.
Throughout your entire presentation, ask questions, take polls, respond to questions, etc. During webinars, your audience doesn’t want to be talked at; they want to be involved, so give them opportunities to interact with you.
Use literary devices
Metaphors and anecdotes are a great way to explain complex ideas. And they will help your audience remember certain concepts long after your presentation ends.
All great presentations have one thing in common: they tell a story. Whether your training new employees, selling a product or presenting a new idea, your story needs to take your audience on a journey from “what is” to “what could be.” And you better convince them that your “what could be” is better than their current situation.