Riveting data: The importance of effective storytelling in making your speeches work

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jaws location
The fishing village of Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard, was the primary location for the filming of the 1975 movie Jaws. (Wikipedia)

Speaking consultant Joey Asher offered a simple deal: He would send a free sample of his small book: Riveting Data: How to make any presentation exciting using Hollywood storytelling techniques, in exchange for a social media or Amazon review. His book is timely as I prepare for a presentation at the Buildings Show on Nov. 29 and know I need to improve my skills to get it right.

Asher’s premise is that even technical and “dull” topics can be enlivened with research, preparation, and the application of Hollywood storytelling formats. He frames the story around Jaws — a 1975 action movie (which certainly dates Asher, at least chronologically).

“Let me say it even more plainly,” he writes.  “A presentation on Workers’ Compensation Data — that fascinating stuff about employee claims for workplace injuries — can be as exciting to your audience as a Hollywood blockbuster.”

How? By realizing that data-driven presentations aren’t about data. Like “Jaws” or any great movie, they’re stories that take listeners on a journey. Rather than focusing on the data, you should focus on context and story.

Asher sets out the “three things” that you need to do to make a great presentation. (And, yes, in this context, the number three is important):

  1. You must present the data as part of a larger story that your listener cares deeply about;
  2. You must make yourself vulnerable to the most difficult, sweat-inducing questions; and
  3. You must connect using a passionate style.

Asher’s points are certainly influencing my thoughts about how to make a great presentation. So, in a shift from the temporal to the religious, are the approaches applied by effective clergy in making their sermons work.  Yes, they tell stories, and they relate the biblical references to contemporary experiences, with (hopefully) a positive moral outcome.

Simple take-aways from this posting:

  • Make it into a story
  • Think in threes
  • Be passionate

(And of course, as noted yesterday, practice, practice, and practice some more.)

I’ll continue my speech-advice postings for the remainder of the week as I gear up for my presentation.)

If you want to see the end result, here is the link for more information (and to register for) my presentation.

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