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Why Technical Presentations Need Stories

Story about the importance of using stories in technical presentations.
Posted in: Brand Storytelling, Communication, Oral Communication, Persuassion, Technical Presentations Started by

Why Technical Presentations Need Stories

imageShe gave a fine Powerpoint presentation, however, I found something sorely missing. It was too technical. So technical that it missed the point.

As I sat there in the audience, I knew she was smart. Very smart, but like all smart people, she missed to connect with the regular people in the audience like me.

How I wish she had used just one or two stories to illustrate her points and to humanize the topic of “breeding eagles in Seaside Oregon.”

Yes, she had an eye for detail. I mean technical details. Lots of them. I doubt that she moved the audience with the elaborate use of those technical details such as the cost, time frame, and the purpose of installing a high-rise pole at a local park for breeding eagles that come every spring.

In the course of projecting the charts, graphs and bullet points, she overlooked an opportunity to make the issue relatable to hit the point home. It was a business meeting, hence not everyone was a biologist, a bird watcher or a member of Audubon Society.

Her Approach:
She did a good job in articulating how the previous pole bearing the bird nest was damaged during a storm in early March. Very good setting of the scene. She painted the
problem, or as I would prefer to say; it introduced David the underdog vs Golliath.

My Approach: Humanize
Beyond introducing the situation, I would have humanized the issue by saying— “Imagine spending all winter away from your family. Upon your return home in spring, you discover that your home has been shattered to the ground by unknown invaders. How would you feel?

In my view, setting up the scene this way humanizes the challenge that the eagles will face when they return in May. This has the potential to evoke emotional empathy.
Why is this important? Because it helps move the audience to donate so that the eagles don’t come home to be disappointed.

To Her Credit
She said, prior to the collapse of the pole bearing the nest, everyone could watch a live-stream of the eagles via camera that was installed thanks to a community donation. That was very good in bridging the issue with the the audience.

Further, to her credit one of the bullet points talked about how live stream was used as an educational activity for the local schools.

That point was however diluted by the fact that there were too many other bullet points

My Approach:
I would have asked the audience, “Do you have kids or grand kids? One way to help your child appreciate nature and the environment is to help them have a better appreciation of some of our feathery friends who can fly far and wide.
Consider having your younger kids watch some of the past videos of live-streams of osprey that come to Seaside every Spring. It will help them have a better appreciation for protecting our environment.

Paint with Emotional Details
I ‘d have thrown in one significant emotional detail to highlight what humans can learn from osprey eagles. Worth mentioning is the fact that osprey eagles are emotionally faithful to one partner for life; not withstanding the fact that the male and female go their separate ways during winter. There, I ‘d say, “Hmmm something we humans can learn from the eagles.”

My Approach — Humorize
I could have asked the audience, how many families would be together if the men and women had to go separate (migrate) every winter; and only to get back together during spring for breeding?

Only after humanizing the subject, the relevance of the bird to children and families, will I then go forth to ask the audience to donate. In other words, by then, the business audience finds the topic relatable and relevant in their lives.

Do You Have Technical Presentation Coming Up?
Email me for a Free 30 Min Story Audit. I am happy to offer suggestions at gideon@storywarrior.us