All of us share data to inform and inspire others for sound decision making, but bringing meaning to the data calls for some detective work - detective work that begins with data collection and illustration followed by an exercise of connecting the dots so that the audience understands the story that the data represents. At the anniversary luncheon, Kathy Reiffenstein of "And...Now Presenting" brought insights and suggestions on how to develop and use stories in business presentations.
The best test of Kathy's presentation is to consider the FAR story. We have the data - 30 years old, more than 200 not-for-profit members, more than 60 prestigious corporate members that serve the not-for-profit communities, 10 luncheon programs annually, and more. But these numbers - as good as they are - don't tell the FAR story, the story of effective networking, strong leadership, exchange of concerns and ideas and the generous sharing of expertise that give these numbers meaning.
In the slides prepared by Patricia Adkins the audience viewed many phrases that give the data meaning: words like collaboration, friendship, colleagues, fun, enduring, sharing, community. Combining these testaments with the data, we can write the FAR story.
Using Kathy's suggestions, we can make that story "sticky," i.e. easily remembered and recalled by using metaphors, anecdotes and examples. To what would you compare FAR - to a lighthouse in a fog? To a warm handshake? To lightbulbs that go off in your head? To a feeling of home as you meet and greet other members at luncheons?
What experiences can you include in your presentation? When you talk about networking, is there an experience of an introduction that led you to a better job? A new hire? A superior vendor? Encouragement through a stressful time at work? These stories generate emotions, and these emotions help the listener remember your message.
As Kathy wrapped up, she left us with 7 strategies for good story telling:
.Think issues, not data. The data provide the context, but the issues strike a chord with the listener.
.Be sure your story has a point that relates to the issue.
.Keep it simple. By not explaining every detail in the story you create curiosity in the listener.
.Use your story to demonstrate how the data is relevant to the listener. Appreciate that the listener is wondering, "What's in it for me?"
.Consider using a personal story or example. These are made more powerful because you have the details and can paint a picture the listener can relate to.
.Don't be afraid to borrow a story if it makes your point. When you hear a good one, write it down and file it away.
.Finally, Practice! Practice! Practice!
It may be easy for you to think of your own FAR story, but with these tips you can begin to uncover the stories within and beyond your data - sticky stories that will bring your point home to the listeners who need to hear them.