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How Storytelling Can Improve Business Presentations

All good communications tell a story; doing so engages the audience, and makes it more likely they'll remember the message and take action afterwards

Whether in business or politics, the most successful presentations and campaigns all start with a compelling narrative. The right story can pull the audience into a presentation and helps them become more emotionally invested in the issue at hand.

It’s unsurprising then that politicians use this tactic, but managers in all parts of a business can also take advantage of this technique in their presentations.

In a recent piece in The New York Times, political strategist Mark McKinnon discusses the power of narrative storytelling in the American political process. He explains that the key to getting people to vote or to support a campaign is to present a compelling narrative.

He notes that the most successful stories always apply a filter of fear or hope: a threat or opportunity. His campaign narratives always include:

  • A victim of the identified threat or denied opportunity.
  • A villain.
  • A resolution-the way you want to story to end.
  • A hero-the person that gets the resolution you want.

How Managers Can Take Advantage

Managers already have a threat or opportunity, it’s the business challenge that they’re working on. And the work they recommend or are asking a team to take on to overcome that challenges is the resolution or the outcome of the story.

Now all they need is their audience to take on the role of the hero, and to show the audience who the villain is – inefficiency, underperforming products, teams, or brands etc – and the action they must take to defeat it.

Seven basic narratives will help you jumpstart your own storytelling session.

Seven basic narratives


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