Does your audience nod off during your presentation? If so, you’re not alone. 32 percent of audience members have fallen asleep during a boring presentation. The human brain is only wired to pay attention for about 10 minutes at a time. As a presenter, you have to find a way to capture people’s attention and keep re-engaging them in your message. If this sounds like a tough task, it is. After all, we are bombarded by marketing messages every day. But cutting through the noise is also very achievable and well worth your time. Storytelling is a great technique for getting people’s attention and drawing them back in when their eyelids start to droop.
Storytelling is an age-old craft shared in every culture. Regardless of language, race or nationality, it is a proven method of converting information to a more durable form. Why is this important for your next presentation? Because people don’t pay attention to boring things; we pay attention to emotions.
No matter what industry you work in, you have more stories to tell than you probably realize. Let me give you an example: In 2011 and 2012, PGi won an award for Best Adoption-Friendly Places to Work sponsored by the Dave Thomas Foundation. I could have merely shared the announcement with our employees, but imagine how much more meaningful it was to share the anxiety and emotion of a real person who actually used the benefit. It wasn’t hard to find someone willing to share their story. A quick call to our HR Department garnered me a few likely participants. Not long after, I had an incredible story with pictures and video of one PGi employee’s journey to a children’s prison in Uganda and how that life-changing experience related to PGi’s generous adoption benefit. Not only did our employees learn an amazing story about one of their co-workers, they also have etched in their memory that PGi topped the list of the Best Adoption-Friendly Places to Work – all because of one story.
Why are stories so effective at capturing – and keeping – an audience’s attention? Aside from our inability to pay attention to boring information, our brains need a break, just like our bodies. Ever feel the 3:00 slump only to step away from your desk for a few minutes and feel revived? When told well, stories are also good at refocusing our minds. They are like a Snickers bar for our brains.
If you really want to make your message unforgettable, add visuals. According to Brain Rules by John Medina , you’ll get 6x better recall for information that is simultaneously oral and visual.
You don’t have to talk to a room full of Rain Men to make your message stick. Try telling a story to transform your audience from slumped in the seat to leaning forward with undivided attention. For more easy-to-use tips to take your presentation from blah to great, check out PGi’s ebook of fun presentation ideas.