They say that a presentation can only be considered successful if it manages to move the attendees to action. For that it is necessary first to be very clear about the action we are pursuing (in other words, what we want to sell) and second to know how to transmit our message in a way that pushes the audience towards this action. One of the most effective techniques for this is storytelling, or the art of captivating the audience through stories. The objective of storytelling is not to persuade by talking about the characteristics and virtues of a product, but to connect with the listener through a memorable experience that opens their receptivity. If the interlocutor identifies us as someone with the same tastes and values, the power of our message will increase exponentially. Years ago I attended a seminar on communication.
A few days before the teacher sent an email saying that being only seven students the session would be very practical and that therefore we had to prepare ourselves in advance a three-minute presentation that seduced the audience. I had a few complicated days, so I read the mail diagonally and just looked for a topic for the talk, thinking that this way I would exercise improvisation. When I arrived at the site I was shocked when I saw on the screen a folder with six presentations (those that had been prepared by the rest of the students following the instructions in the message). I managed to stay last while thinking about how to get out of the trance, and when it was my turn I asked the teacher to turn off the projector, since my presentation did not require visual support.
“On the contrary, it is important that you are attentive to my verbal and non-verbal language because we are going to do an exercise. I am going to tell two stories of which one is true and the other is false, and in the end you will have to guess which one is true.” It was a resounding success. The teacher, who had failed the answer, skipped the script to devote the rest of the session to commenting on how these types of exercises can help us hook the audience. If we are going to talk for an hour, it is okay to spend five minutes to capture interest. If we do not have so much time, storytelling can consist of examples, anecdotes, questions to the audience, any excuse that serves to click on our interlocutor. Once I did a course at ESADE and after a few days we commented with the classmates that the professors always managed to include in their explanation some example demonstrating how Guardiola put his theories into practice. It was probably not an agreed slogan, but as good communicators they naturally applied the necessary resource to create the emotional bond at the right time.
They say that, when we attend a presentation, every twenty seconds we disconnect a moment. So if we are talking to twenty people, statistically there is always one who is thinking about the shopping list. And the danger is that he will stay there for a while if our conversation does not take him to more pleasant grounds. I remember a colleague (the great Manolo) who interspersed in his sales courses some videos without any relation to the syllabus. It cannot be said that this increased the pedagogical value of the course but it was extremely effective in creating the atmosphere that was sought among the attendees. After all, the important thing is not how many Concepts per minute we are able to shoot our long-suffering audience, if not how many hit the target. In other words, how many will they retain after a week. To do a test, if you have read the highly recommended posts of this blog (otherwise, do it now!) think about what you remember about each one. I get the war of ants, the ladders-piano, the recipe for apps, the Apple-Microsoft battle, the rule of three eights, the key thrown into the sea, the carpet of the Alpujarra … We retain the anecdote, the pun, the spectacular image.
And with that I have said everything I intended. Is something missing? Oh, of course! Make it memorable. Anyone looking for an introduction to storytelling can stop reading, but for those who are curious I will explain an anecdote from Carles Trempat, a former project manager with whom I worked some time ago. Those of us who treated him closely remember his theory that closing a sale was the second most pleasant feeling for a human being. And he claimed to have experienced it firsthand in his early days as a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman, when a red-haired Englishwoman allowed him into her home for more than just the encyclopedia. In the first project he directed, Carles had participated in the commercial phase but did not meet the Management until the day of the kick-off. He froze when the CEO came in and recognized in her the red-haired Englishwoman from the encyclopedia.
He waited anxiously for the moment when their eyes met, and he was relieved to see that the Englishwoman simply shook his hand without a single blink of an eye that denoted having recognized him. However, in the final snack the CEO took him to a corner and blurted out: – Do you remember me, storyteller? Well, know that your encyclopedia turned out to be a joke. I see that you have dazzled us again with your stories, but it will not be enough. You will have to show that you know how to assert your product. – Don’t worry. We have implemented our product in hundreds of similar projects The redhead gave him a mocking smile and replied: – I did not mean this product And without waiting for an answer he turned and left muttering “My dear storyteller“. P.S.: Our story does not need to be true but it does need to be truthful and, above all, close. It doesn’t matter that there is no Carles Trempat or that an airplane is too big to fit in a box. A child’s illusion is even greater, and a company that strives to keep it alive is someone who can be trusted.