Now that you have awarded a grant or scholarship and written a powerful case study about your company’s impact, you can move on, right? Not so fast. A story that reveals your company’s impact is one you want to keep in your back pocket. A compelling story can be used in a variety of ways for a wide range of different audiences. From potential donors and investors to clients and colleagues at conferences, there are a number of ways you can get your story in front of important stakeholders.
Presentations are a particularly great way to tell a story about your company’s impact. Stories are more memorable and persuasive to listeners than dry reporting or data-filled presentations. Structuring a presentation as a story is a perfect format for sharing how your company is changing lives.
Location, Location, Location
Before you begin creating your presentation, it’s important to think about your audience and where you will be speaking to them. You will need to create different versions of the story you want to tell depending on your location. One-on-one meetings with potential investors will require one type of storytelling, and presenting at a conference will call for an entirely different form of storytelling. Be sure to consider your setting before you begin crafting your presentation. Will you be in a big room? Outdoors? Will you have access to audio-visual aids if needed? Get creative with your setting if possible. For example, if your awardee is building or designing a project, consider telling the story of your awardee’s vision at the site where the project will take place.
Choose a Storyteller
As you consider where you will be and who you will be speaking to, spend some time thinking about who can best tell your story. Your marketing department is likely filled with good storytellers, but be sure to identify other possible storytellers, too. For example, the person who received your grant or scholarship is in an ideal position to tell their own story—and the story of your company’s impact on their life. Additionally, donors and investors can share why they support your company’s work and client-facing staff can share stories of their interactions with clients. While a polished story may be best in some settings, an authentic, heartfelt story from a source outside your marketing department might be ideal in others.
Identify Your Main Idea
Before you begin putting your presentation together, be sure to identify the main idea you want to convey to your audience. It will be important to keep this idea running through the story as a theme. Repeating key points is helpful to listeners and can be a good way to emphasize your main idea as you progress through your story. If you are using slides to accompany your presentation, be sure to use bold titles that call attention to your main idea. And remember, your story should have three parts: the problem, the journey to find a solution, and the resolution. Be sure that your listeners leave with a clear understanding of why your story is important.
Make Your Audience the Hero
Understanding your audience is crucial to storytelling, and keeping your audience central to your story is essential. Presentations depend on an audience and it is important to ensure that your audience sees themselves as the heroes—or potential heroes—of your story. For example, if you are speaking to a potential donor, your storytelling should communicate how becoming a donor will give them the power and reward of having changed lives. Alternately, if you are giving a presentation at a large conference, you might want your audience to feel empowered and motivated to implement some of your company’s strategies in their own workplaces. Every good story appeals to both logic and emotion, but crafting the right presentation requires knowing how to best appeal to particular listeners. What motivates your audience? Why did they show up to hear your story? Answering these types of questions will help you identify how to help your audience feel like they are the heroes of your story.
Choose Images Deliberately
If you are creating a presentation with slides or images, be sure you are using images that enhance your story. Unless you are relaying data, keep the text on your slides minimal. Bold titles that call attention to your main ideas or themes are often helpful, but too much text can be distracting to both you and your audience. Ideally, you will want to use images that show how your company is changing lives or helping to generate new ideas. It should go without saying that using real images, rather than stock photos, will make your presentation more memorable and persuasive. Video clips of your awardee’s story can also be a powerful touch.
Be Friendly and Approachable
Using a friendly, conversational tone during presentations will draw listeners in. Whether the setting is informal or formal, addressing the audience directly and making eye contact, if possible, will help audience members feel connected to you and the story you are telling. If you are using slides, practice your presentation several times so that you do not have to rely on slides. Don’t be afraid to let your facial expressions and body language shine through in the storytelling. If you are authentically animated, your audience will respond well. And if appropriate to your setting, audience, and the story you are telling, using humor can be a great way to connect listeners to your message.
When it comes to creating presentations to tell a story about your company’s impact, there are many different settings, scenarios, and audiences to prepare for. It can often be helpful to create a longer story—such as one you might present at a conference—and then adapt different versions of this story for different settings and audiences. Keep in mind that your adaptations should reveal how each distinct audience can be the hero of your story. You will also want to consider how to tell the story in different formats. Creating digital, print, and oral versions of the story will also help you get your message in front of a variety of audiences.