Do all great presenters have professional copywriters and graphic artists at their disposal? The reality is… no. And they don’t all possess some rare skill that allows them to instantly whip up presentations with that certain je ne sais quoi. The truth is, putting together an engaging, motivating presentation does require skill but more importantly, it requires a toolkit.
Your toolkit must contain components that arm you to build a visual story strategy and a visual slide strategy. Attendees of our Crafting Strategic Visual Stories and Influencing with Visuals workshops have learned how a great story and powerful visuals can turn any product pitch, status report, or recommendation into a memorable presentation.
Planning a ‘home’ based on your audience
The tools and strategy used in building a visual story is much like those used in constructing a home. There are several, critical, ‘phase 1’ steps to complete before any building starts. You must have an understanding of who’s going to be living in the home (your audience) and what they are expecting to experience. Ask these questions: What is happening in their world? How can you build something that will truly benefit them? Then, you must isolate your big idea.
In our house analogy, this is where you decide — mid-century ranch or Mediterranean stucco? You must clearly figure out how big it should be, how many rooms, and how each room will connect. Again, knowing your audience is crucial in determining how you will build something that will motivate and inspire them.
Framing the ‘home’ with character, setting, conflict and resolution
Now that you have an understanding of your audience and what you want to recommend, it’s time to get out your hammer and nails and start to frame the walls, roof, and floor. As we explore in our workshop, Crafting Strategic Visual Stories, you will find greatest ease and fluidity by having a Visual Storytelling Framework.
This framework arranges your ideas within the arc of a story. You will set the stage with a character – someone or something that is centrally affected by the conflict you are going to reveal. Your character is placed in the context of a setting, which provides critical parameters around your subject. And here is where your familiarity with your audience is most critical: the conflict. When you introduce the conflict and ultimately, the resolution, it is crucial that your audience cares if the conflict goes unresolved. Bottom line, if they care what’s at stake, they’ll most likely be moved by your recommendations.
Story arc in place… bring on the visuals
With the story framework in place, it’s time to move into ‘phase 2’, the visual slide strategy. Using the house analogy, visual slide strategies – explored in-depth in our workshop Influencing with Visuals – are akin to the work of an interior designer.
You are picking room paint, carpet, lighting, and other aesthetic finishes. But excellent visuals are not just about attractive display. They are a way to use design — including photos, diagrams, charts, text, or video — to complement your story. A story alone pushes your ideas through logic and emotion, but the visuals engage the brain in a way that positively cements the deal.
A recap: Planning is everything
Really, is all this planning necessary? Yes. Absolutely. To save time, most people build presentations by pulling straight from their last deck or leveraging colleague’s slides. These old slides might seem to fit but it doesn’t take into account the unique needs of different audiences.
Planning with a storytelling framework ensures we don’t put forth our recommendations before we build out the context of what problem we are solving. We must always be able to answer the question: why should our listeners care? A storytelling framework combined with a visual slide strategy is what continues to keep the audience focused and drawn to the ‘house’. With that, they’ll be eager to move right in…
Interested in learning more about building presentations based on a storytelling framework and a visual slide strategy? Get in touch with The Presentation Company at 888-991-0208 or check out our classes, Crafting Strategic Visual Stories and Influencing with Visuals.