Top tips for storytelling in virtual presentations

There’s no doubt about it, storytelling helps you deliver better presentations, and makes for a more interesting and engaging audience experience.  

Particularly so in the age of COVID-19, where you’re presenting remotely and really having to fight to grab and hold your audience’s attention. Virtual presentations aren’t new, but they’ve definitely become the new norm.   

Therefore, more and more businesses are having to adapt from traditional face-to-face presentations, to presenting online via the likes of Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  

As the experts in presentations, we’ve been listening closely to sales and marketing teams over the past few months.

common problem they’re facing is making their sales pitches, internal presentations and turn-in conferences as engaging online as they would have been face to face.

Here are storytelling tips for virtual presentations – simple ways to grab your audience’s attention and hold their focus. 

1) Create a Strong Introduction 

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Research shows that it takes your audience a matter of minutes to drift off during your presentation. So grab their attention while you can!  

Create a strong, compelling introduction that hooks your audience right from the start.  

  • Make it memorable with a ‘wow’ moment – using a killer statistic or powerful visual.  
  • Use a really impactful analogy to give your content context and make it instantly relatable.  
  • Use a quote from someone your audience admires/aspires to. 
  • Begin by telling a story.  
  • Ask a rhetorical question.  

Each of these is way more interesting than what your audience might usually expect, such as an introduction to the company or team.  

2) Deliver a compelling narrative throughout 

Stories connect people. They engage different parts of your brain to pique interest, intrigue, evoke emotions and encourage you to stay tuned in to find out what’s coming next. And there are plenty of different types of stories that you can tell – from personal and customer-related stories to business improvement anecdotes, for example. 

Once you’ve got people’s attention, you need to hold it. And so, like any good story, make sure that you have a good middle and end that builds throughout and ends on a high. Or, you can keep telling stores and anecdotes that are linked.  

There are so many tips on storytelling in presentations to help you engage your audiences.  

3) Make people feel something  

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

– Maya Angelou 

Use emotion to make your audience feel something. As humans we make decisions based on feelings, and so part of connecting is making people feel. Use descriptive words to create an emotional connection and make something memorable.  

4) Keep Your Presentation Content Short  

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Make your virtual presentation concise. Think about the distractions you encounter when you’re working from home. Or when you’re presenting virtually. Kids, pets, mobile phones, and more, can all divert attention away from what you’re meant to be focusing on. Attention spans are small. 

We recommend that you aim to maintain engagement for around 30 minutes. So think carefully about what information you really need. Write your story and then edit out anything that doesn’t speak to what your audiences’ wants or needs.

Saying it out loud on a practice run will help you to cut out anything superfluous. Try and limit sentences to under 10 wordsIf there are more, then you’re forcing your audience to read, and if they’re reading, they’re not listening to you. Think, short, snappy, punchy and relevant. 

This will make it much easier for your audience to hear your messages and remember them.  

5) Use The Element Of Surprise 

Keep your virtual presentation interesting by surprising your audience. Share new information, talk about the current reality and future potential, problems and solutions, innovations and more. 

6) Use transitions  

Transitions are often used in storytelling to help you tie things together. You can use them to move from one thing to another to help your audience to understand what you are saying. 

7) End on a high  

Virtual storytelling helps you to grab your audience’s attention and keep it. But crucially it’s memorable long after the event. 

So, remember to write a powerful introduction, use interesting stories and anecdotes and use these techniques to keep your audience focused. 

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