Finding that hook for your next story can be challenging, but this time and effort is a vital step on the journey to presentation success. The net result is a presentation story that gets to the heart of the message you want your audience to remember and ultimately act upon.
TED talks are an excellent source for finding innovative and creative presentations… so, we’ve honed in on a few that are well worthy of your time that show the immense power of storytelling.
Screenwriter Andrew Stanton opens his presentation by using the underappreciated tool of comedy. Although it might seem irrelevant, the punchline of… erm… making love to a goat not only engages the audience to laugh, it highlights a key point.
“Storytelling is joke telling, knowing your punchline and your ending”
Stanton believes that we are born for stories and that they affirm who we are. At the end of his presentation which happens to ironically be the start of his story as a baby, he tells how his father revealed Stanton’s premature start in the world proving that he was special. Stanton ponders on how he isn’t sure of his ‘specialness’ in the world but that he didn’t want to prove his parents wrong. He then couples this with a clip of a premature Nemo in Finding Nemo telling us how personal Nemo’s story is to Stanton. He memorably goes on to encourage his storytelling audience to “Use what you know”.
The fundamental goal for most presenters is to have their audience engaged from start to finish, therefore It’s important to keep them in mind when selecting stories for a presentation. An authentic story that connects with an audience has the power to bring life to a presentation, ensuring the presenter leaves the audience with a memorable message.
Lesson learned: Stanton’s belief is that all of the best stories invoke ‘wonder’ into their structure and capture the audience’s imagination.
Storyteller Joe Sabia delivers a wonderful testimony of how to tell a story and drive home a message in under 4 minutes. He champions the great pioneer Lothar Meggendorfer (the inventor of the pop-up book) who he believes we have a lot to thank for when it comes to how we consume stories.
“The way we tell stories, has always evolved”
Sabia sagely recognised that the way to tell his story was through innovative technology. What better way in 2011 than using the ‘then’ very new iPad and its myriad of apps to help create videos & music, draw pictures, show website links, books and even brilliantly capture his own audience in a picture at the end. In effect, his message is literally both spoken and performed, and the hearty applause from his audience at the end is mightily deserved.
Lesson learned: Sabia champions pioneer Lothar Meggendorfer as a great example of pushing storytelling into a new direction whilst physically demonstrating some of those directions on iPad.
Comedian James Veitch is a digital avenger exposing the ridiculous nuances of the modern-day digital age. His background in computers has given him plenty of material that he has honed into his act. ‘The Agony of Trying to Unsubscribe’ may feel like a ‘bit’ but is a very profound story told in a very familiar format. He tells his mother’s story of how he used to pretend to be a dead body on the pavement, timing it perfectly with a photo of the event on a big screen, but he then leaves this seemingly random information to tell of a humorous back and forth between a supermarket marketing email, displaying the email tennis on a big screen. Cleverly he ends by linking it back to his original story.
“If you ever feel weighed down by the mundanity of modern life, don’t fight the frustration, let it be the catalyst for whimsy”
His punchline becomes a picture of himself as an adult doing the exact same thing as before, dead on the paved slabs! It’s perfectly structured by planting the idea at the start and paying it off at the end. Much raucous laughter ensues but Veitch’s dead body underpins his message. If ever anything is getting you annoyed with modern life, use it as a tool for your own playfulness. It’s also designed for you to think about the point of his endeavours. Who would have thought a comedy routine could be a comment on existentialism?
Lesson learned: Visuals can be simple – the key is a well structured and audience centric story that prompts a response.
These presentations all have their own different subject matter and messages. But they all share common threads and storytelling characteristics. They all use humour to strengthen their message and notice how they all end on big finishes that somehow let you know their reason for existing. Stanton’s premature start, Sabia’s storytelling innovations and Veitch’s Catalysts for whimsy. Each one leaves you with a powerful message that will stay with you long after the end.