One Huge Presentation Mistake Even Expert Storytellers Make

Presentation Mistake Even Expert Storytellers Make

Taking steps to understand your audience usually puts you on a promising path for a memorable presentation, right? But what if our careful preparation is still not enough? What if we still miss that connection with the crowd?

Here’s something to consider: Is that crowd of expectant faces made up of people working in vastly different functions? Cindy the Senior VP wants the big picture only. Hannah in HR wants to be updated on your projected needs for new talent. Dan the data engineer will only wake up when you roll out some hard numbers… We all face this scenario at some point. So how do we craft an authentic, succinct story that will serve many different needs?

Multiple Characters, Multiple Needs

For audiences with widely diverse priorities (think: a CEO sitting next the VP of Sales, who are sitting across from a team of data scientists) you have to grow your story to accommodate these varying needs. This means you must introduce multiple characters into your narrative (remember, as part of the why of your presentation). Each character should speak to every major need within your audience.

Of course, each character must also have their own conflict as well (although it isn’t necessary to go into too much detail for each story). The point is that the presenter has thought through these different stories and is prepared to drill down into each of these areas if executives want to go there.

Sometimes, you may be able to find one common conflict and resolution for your whole audience, but this could be tricky to pull off. Your best approach is to briefly call out key needs of your diverse audience through multiple characters and conflicts.

Good Presenters Will Connect with Everyone

Can you always give the same amount of attention to everyone in your audience? Certainly not. But well-prepared presenters always seek to address audience members with different needs and expectations (certainly all senior executives or major stakeholders). You must grow your story to include multiple characters and conflicts that will invite a response from these various people. Demonstrating that you have considered their concerns and challenges is a surefire way to win the room and sell your ideas.

Want to learn more strategies for flexing your story based on your audience’s needs? Our best-selling book, Everyday Business Storytelling, is filled with practical tips and real-world examples that make it easy. Grab your copy here.