Power-up Your PowerPoint with Storytelling

Today’s blog post is written by Rebekah Pearson, Digital Learning Specialist, PatronManager. 

Working at an arts organization, you likely find yourself in a meeting room with staff or board members on a fairly regular basis. In these meetings, you might be tasked with communicating the state of your organization, delivering data to help inform decisions, or inspiring staff and board members to help your organization grow. If this sounds like you, and you find yourself just going through the motions and reading off bullet points while staring at a room full of disengaged people… perhaps it’s time to step up your PowerPoint game and make your presentations more engaging!

While bullet points are handy when it comes to making a presentation brief, sometimes we put too much of an emphasis on brevity that we forget how much our human hearts and minds crave stories. Not only that, but we actually process information better when it’s presented to us in narrative form. In fact, Google’s CEO has ditched bullet points altogether in favor of simpler, more engaging presentations.

So, how can you use storytelling as a device in a way that still conveys the detailed information you need to share? With data (from your CRM)! A story without data can fail to provide specific ways for your stakeholders to take action, while data without a story can fail to create a connection and motivate your intended audience. When you bring the two together, you can communicate why the data is important, and in turn, the data serves to create fuel for making decisions.

When it comes time to deliver information to your staff or board, here are some simple ideas (with example slides featuring puppies) for taking your PowerPoint presentations from bite-sized pieces of information to a compelling data-powered narrative:

Fewer Bullet Points, More Narrative

Instead of simply sharing bits of data, present your points as part of an anecdote. Remember that you want your audience to be engaged and emotionally connected to what you are sharing.

Try this:

Not that:

Less Text, More Visuals

You already know better than to have blocks of text on a PowerPoint presentation — but what if you cut down to less than 15 words per slide or dare I suggest, don’t include any text at all? Try using pictures or graphics with keywords and small phrases. Let your speaking draw the audience in.

Try this:

Not that:

Less Stand-Alone Data, More Data + Story Combined

Don’t present a chart or graph on its own. Share the numbers combined with a story — they go hand in hand to create connection and action. 

Try this:

Not that:

When your box office staff hears the story about how George and Marie were so impressed with their experience at your organization’s recent event that they recommended George’s office bring a group of clients to your next event, your staff will begin to understand how what they do directly affects group sales.

When your board of directors hears the story of the family who was so happy to receive a scholarship for their child to attend your summer camp that they became season subscribers for the first time, they will see how giving back to the community has a direct impact on patron loyalty.

These are just a few examples of what a powered-up PowerPoint presentation can convey by combining data with narrative. As you bring together the art of storytelling with the power of your data, you will be able to more effectively engage with the people who are driving your organization into the future. Your staff and board members will emotionally connect to the why behind the numbers. And when your people are engaged, they will contribute more to the success of your organization.

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