Use Stories to Engage Your Audience

7 min

To engage an audience during a presentation,
structure your presentation like a story.

There are several story structures used in fiction, but the simplest for you to use is the three act structure.

Act 1: Setup


Show your problem affecting your main character.


State the main idea of your presentation as a problem for your main character or characters.

Side note: Your story needs a main character.
Someone for your audience to relate to.

Act 2: Raise the Stakes


In the middle of your presentation, raise the stakes. Show how your main characters are affected by your problem.

Act 2 of your presentation is also where you show data to really illustrate the impact of the problem you’ve laid out.

Act 3: Resolution


Solve the problem.


By now, you’ve got your audience excited to see what happens next. So offer a solution to the problem.

As you may have guessed, this story structure is especially useful when you’re trying to pitch a new idea, or sell something.

Depending on your audience and what you’re trying to do, you might want to use another structure, or just stick to a simple structure of “What? So what? Now what?"

Here’s a blog post with other story structures you might want to use in presentations.

Let’s practice. Eric is giving a presentation about why his office needs to replace their printers. What’s a good way for him to start?

Quiz 1 of 1

Eric is giving a presentation about why his office needs to replace their printers. What’s a good way for him to start?

a
“We need new printers. Here’s why:”
b
“Andrew in sales has had to use a print shop to print his sales collateral for the last five months.”
c
“The following statistics will lay out a compelling story for why we need new printers.”
d
“Here’s how much it will cost to buy new printers for the office.”

TAKE THE NEXT STEP:


If you have a presentation coming up, try structuring it as a story. Ask yourself: who is my main character and what is their problem?

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