PowerPoint and the Art of Storytelling

PowerPoint and the Art of Storytelling

PowerPoint can prove a powerful tool when used to support the delivery of information. Done badly however, it can be a tiresome visual, offering nothing more than a distraction from the main message of a presentation.

Large chunks of text reduce your audience to tears of boredom, whilst bullet points give little more than a reiteration of words spoken aloud. Charts and graphs may offer a visual stimulant but are easily and quickly forgotten. To truly engage an audience with PowerPoint, play to our natural love of storytelling – a method that connects on an emotional level and leaves us open to suggestion.

Start at the beginning

As every good story does, start with a beginning, middle and an end. Consider how you want your message to come across and draft out a narrative. Are there themes that you can weave into your presentation - the battle of good and evil, power struggles or a tale of loyalty? Are there plot lines you can use - a journey or a moral? Can you draw on personal experience to tell your story, or use a well-known piece of fiction to demonstrate your point? Note all your ideas down and let your creativity guide you.

Paint a picture

Once you have your narrative ideas down on paper, begin to compile a list of images that support your story. These should make up the bulk of your presentation as we all know that pictures speak louder than words. Try to stick with high quality, real life visuals over clip art and graphics – the human brain responds better to images it can relate to.

If your presentation is long in duration, consider the use of short video clips to break up any potential monotony. If using existing images or multimedia files, always take into consideration any copyright issues that may occur.

Storyboard your ideas

With the skeleton of your story now established, you can begin to visualise your deck as an end product and storyboard your slides. You don’t need to be an artist here – simple stick figures and shapes with accompanying notes will suffice as a visual guide for your slide design and will help you develop an engaging sequence. Once your storyboard is perfected, you can begin your PowerPoint design process.

Rehearse your script

Your PowerPoint presentation is there as a compliment to your story whilst you yourself are the storyteller. Practice your presentation until the story sticks and you know it off by heart. If you need to refer to your slides as a cue, you’re not ready to present.

There are of course exceptions to these rules - for example, financial presentations will always be best served by the use of charts and graphs, whilst educational slides will always benefit from bullet points highlighting specific facts. But if your message is more focused on suggestion or persuasion, the power of storytelling will allow you to connect with your audience on a deeper level and leave a lasting impression. What’s more, you can avoid the so called ‘death by PowerPoint’ trap and utilise the programme to its greatest strength.

Our in-house creative team are pros at the art of PowerPoint design and are happy to come on board at any part of the process. Contact us today for a copy of our PowerPoint brochure and see how we can help develop your deck.  

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