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Presentations – Are You a Storyteller?

Presentations – Are You a Storyteller?

I had another great IRL face-to-face meeting recently, and it reminded me of the power of storytelling. This person used an anecdote – a personal story – to convey the effectiveness of his company’s expertise. I rarely use slide decks for presentations now. I prefer to more actively engage the audience, and I relish telling stories. Here are some reasons I think you should brush up on your storytelling!

1. We Loved Storytime as Kids

I loved to read as a kid. It started out with comic books and progressed to just about every paperback I could get my hands on in a small Texas town. We read to our own daughters every night until they were in 7th and 8th grade, and the oldest asked me to read her senior-class book assignments to her because she loves hearing the voices and emotions for the different characters. We want to be captivated, to be thrilled, to be rescued, and to be enchanted.

2. We Seek Stories as Adults

I just purchased a new iPad case and a bluetooth microphone. I went to several websites. Each website had the same product descriptions, but each website had different stories! Where do you spend the most time when you visit Do you click repeatedly through the product images and specifications? Or, do you read the user reviews? User stories inject passions and perspectives that product descriptions lack. These stories will have the greatest impact on buying decisions. At Mantis, we believe in the power of user reviews so much, that our Pulse Analytics monitoring tool captures them, so you can find out what people are saying about your brand – and then respond appropriately.

3. Nobody Else Can Tell Your Story

Imagine your competitors presenting to the same decision makers you will meet this week. Your competitors will come armed with statistics and trend numbers. They will present a dazzling array of product features. Their slide decks will have cool animation and may be cinematic, mixed-media masterpieces. They will leave behind a branded USB drive – or awesome coffee mug – that is bigger than the one you planned to leave behind.

You will come armed with your secret weapons – your stories. Nobody has your experiences and anecdotes, and nobody has your style of delivery.

Tell your prospects a story about their worst fears coming true. Describe how a very similar client averted disaster using your solution. If doing a proof-of-concept, or having the optimum scenario of access to the prospect’s data, demonstrate how your solution finds buried treasure for the organization. Pulse Analytics demos are fun because we already have access to the prospects’ data. Consumers are already telling their stories about the prospects’ brands on review sites and in social media. Pulse just digs up that buried treasure that becomes actionable intelligence.

4. So, Tell Us a Story Brian!

For a humorous diversion, you can read my 12 Most Texas Tall Tales Growing Up Down By the River. Meanwhile, I will relay the story I heard during my recent meeting:

The president of a SEO company recently purchased a luxury vehicle. Business must have been good because he paid cash for this SUV! When he went back to the dealer to pay for maintenance, the bill was almost 2 1/2 times the estimated costs. He made it clear to the dealership that he was an educated consumer, and they would pay dearly for this tactic. The dealer made it clear that he was welcome to take his business elsewhere.

The great thing about being a president of an SEO company is that you know the techniques to get your comments/reviews to the “top of the leaderboard” when it comes to search engines. Within a couple of days, the apologetic dealership owner called the SEO company president to see how they could make amends. The dealership owner then asked “how did you do that”. The story’s happy ending: The SEO company demonstrated expertise and then used that expertise to illustrate how they could help the dealership show up higher in search engine results. The SEO company also has an anecdote to use with future clients.

I will pass along a couple of Pulse Analytics stories in future blogs. You can also hear them directly – along with perhaps some new stories using your own data – if you schedule a Pulse demo. You see, this is what is called a “cliffhanger”…

…and wouldn’t you like to know the happy ending?!?

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and grandsons! My career has blessed me to the point I was able to start a new consultancy in 2018: Analytic Integrity. I look to provide analytic experience, and business integrity, to an Analytics world while helping data-driven organizations mature. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin.

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  1. Storytelling for the win. What a powerful anecdote.

    • I really enjoyed that anecdote told by the SEO guy, and it reminded me how much I like to tell stories – and hear good ones. And your competitor can’t share that same story with YOUR voice and personality…so take advantage of being “you”.

  2. Story-telling is my life these days. I used to do it in my former career in showbiz – but it was for other people and/or other people’s stories. Now, I do both for me and others and it’s so much fun!
    Are you getting ready/working out for our tennis game in August?

    • I know you enjoy a good story, Bruce – so I have enjoyed your comic strip, vlogs and blog. Yep, I am getting ready for our tennis game…although playing earlier in the day or later at night to dodge these 100 degree days in Denver right now!

  3. I hate presentations — giving them or listening to them but I love listening to stories and having conversations!

    • Janice…you grew up rural like I did, right? Once I went back to embracing my own upbringing with my presentation style, I really reflected upon some of the best storytellers in my own life. My grandparents, and their generation, had great stories. And yes, I lived a few myself (thus the 12 Most post on Texas Tall Tales). I bet some of those farmers you know have a few good stories in their back pockets!

      When it comes down to it, an appropriately timed story provides such great context during a presentation. You can appeal to almost any emotion, and emotions still drive a lot of decision-making! And your competitors cannot beat you at telling *your* stories! Dare to be different…

      • Confession time…. I grew up TOTALLY URBAN. My parents idea of farms was something that you looked at when driving between cities! But I think Southern urban pulls heavily on the Southern side where we celebrate eccentricities, etc. Storytelling is a gift from the gods!

        • I agree, Janice. Some of the best stories come from celebrating those eccentricities.

  4. Brian, I tell stories every time I perform my tribute to Mark Twain. It was a story time moment in the second grade that connected me to the author who’s influence continues to shape my life. This is a nice post. Thank you.

    • Wonderful to hear, Van. And Mark Twain definitely shaped a few story tellers! Thanks for stopping by and contributing a comment.

      • My pleasure Brian..Take care,

  5. Story telling is the best way to teach, it gives the listener a instant connection with the presenter and with the topic at hand. If the story is told well, then the listener can imagine themselves is that same situation and learn without being told what to do.

    • Exactly, Kevin – the key is to have the listener feel the emotions/excitement/satisfaction from imagining themselves in the same situation.


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