Before you can convince customers to buy your idea, you’ll have to convince the rest of your organization to buy in. Connecting with your audience is as simple (and as difficult) as telling them a story. So the next time you outline a presentation or manifesto video, try following the storytelling framework known as Freytag’s Pyramid. Following this structure will make it easier for your audience to concentrate on the ideas you present as they’ll know what plot points to anticipate.
The Narrative Structure of Successful Presentations
- Start with conflict. Tolstoy once remarked, “All great literature is one of two stories; a man goes on a journey or a stranger comes to town”—and he knows a thing or two about narrative. Without a change in the status quo, there is no story, so make sure people understand the current situation and why it’s untenable.
- Explain your progress thus far. Your team may have been working on this problem for some time, but it will be new to your audience. Show the results from your customer research and competitive analysis; using quotes or images from real people for greater impact.
- Propose your grand ambition. Despite the challenges, reassure the audience that there’s reason to hope—and, in fact, a great opportunity for those willing to seize it. Lay out your team’s vision for the future, but then…
- Identify the barriers. Create drama by introducing new sources of conflict and explaining what’s stopping the organization from achieving its goals.
- Explain how to overcome those barriers. Make the audience the protagonists by explaining why their help is needed. If they feel like they are part of the solution, they will become powerful brand ambassadors for the new changes.
- Build excitement as you expose the creative solutions. Unveil your ideas and clearly illustrate how they will get you closer to the big vision.
- End smoothly with timing, costs, and next steps. Our last presentation tip now that the story is ending, is to take action. Translate the vision into tactical goals and clear responsibilities so that people can bring it to life.
Published February 27, 2016