We all know what a story is. A story has a protagonist Frodo Baggins, for instance), the protagonist has something big to do (put the Ring into the fires of Mount Doom), the protagonist has someone trying to stop him (the wizard Sauron and his Ringwraiths and Orcs).
And many of us have heard we must use story in our presentations. But is a presentation story is the same as a story story. In a presentation, story is woven through and around the main topic. How do you do that, anyway?
Steve Jobs of Apple was both a master presenter and a master storyteller. Every major Apple product launch starred Steve Jobs and Keynote. He told the story of the latest Apple product: the why, the how, the amazing technological achievement represented by the device, the glorious Apple future that beckoned to anyone who anted up a ton of money to get on board. People couldn’t empty their pockets fast enough. His audience may have thought he was selling a product, but he was selling experience and bringing that experience alive with his story. The effect was magical.
Let’s See How a Master Did It
If we look carefully you will find that Jobs’s stories had all the elements of a story story. It has a hero (the Apple iPod, for example), the iPod has something big to do (put a 1,000 songs in your pocket), the antagonist (technology up to this moment) that denied everyone access to such a soul-satisfying device.
With all the marketing options available, Jobs began all his Apple product launches in front of a live audience using keynote. He knew that his sell worked best by presenting to a live audience that he could excite. His presentations were pure theatre. It worked for the product and it worked for him. Using story he brought his audience into the experience of owning an iPod. He made it personal. It was a mesmerizing experience for the audience that interrupted him again and again with applause and cheers. And it sold hundreds of thousands of Apple products.
Few of us will equal Jobs’s mastery (nor have the incredible time and budget that went into designing, and delivering his presentations), but the way he wove a story into his presentation is something we can all do.
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