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Stories …. even in a business presentation

TED Speaker Amy Cuddy

Effective stories can change our opinions, they can inspire us to achieve goals that we didn’t think were possible, and they can show us how we can change things for the better. But for some people telling stories just doesn’t seem professional or technical enough. Storytelling is associated with words like ‘fiction’ or ‘fabrication’, and feels a bit personal and subjective.

But in a business presentation, stories can make the difference between success and failure. Stories help us to grasp information and retain it long after the presentation is over. Did you know that your audience is over 20 times more likely to remember a message when it’s conveyed using a story than they will remember any individual statistic used to back the story up (1)?  There is a lot that we in business can learn from the TED Talk model. Here are some greats for you to ponder:

Building trust

Bryan Stevenson is the founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative, fighting poverty and challenging racial discrimination in the criminal justice system. Watch this TED Talk, where Bryan uses a full five minutes of his introduction to set the scene with an endearing and personal story. The audience gets to understand what makes Bryan tick, and why his work is so important to him.



Conveying an idea

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy, Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, investigates how people judge and influence each other. Her 2012 TED Talk was the inspiration behind her recent bestseller Presence: Bringing Your Boldest Self to Your Biggest Challenges. In this TED Talk, watch how she uses stories to make the case for you to Fake it till you make it.


Emotional connection

For third sector organisations, emotional connections are so important to influence your audiences. We admire how James Nesbitt skilfully brings us to a time and a place in this keynote to the Alzheimers Research UK annual conference. He’s got a moving story to tell and it really resonates.


Do you have a favourite speaker that you’d like to share with us? Come chat on Facebook or Twitter, we’re always keen to hear about great communicators!

(1) Made to Stick (2007), Dan and Chip Heath, Arrow Books