Storytelling: the Secret of Powerful Presentations

Have you ever been forced to sit through a dull presentation? Do you worry that your talk will be boring when you have to present to clients, coworkers, or top management? Even if you need to present dry complex data, your talk can be engaging and interactive. All you need is good storytelling.

Stories make the best presentations

The biggest mistake you can make is to share straight facts and figures without answering the big “why” questions, so your audience can relate to your talk. (Hear more here: “Start with Why” talk of Simon Sinek ).

A good idea is to start the presentation with a statement or thought-provoking question. Below you can see an example of a slide you can use for the opening.

Emily Dickinson Quote slide

Swedish professor Hans Rosling gave an invigorating TED talk about the so-called “developing world”. Watch the way he expertly transforms what could have been a dull, statistic-heavy presentation into an engaging story. Note the way he begins by sharing a story based on his own experience.

How to tell stories with help of slides

Clear and appropriate images and graphics can help you tell stories, and support the thoughts and ideas you want to communicate. You can literally illustrate your points with diagrams, charts, and tables.

storytelling project roadmap ppt slide

You can use photos of locations or symbols to represent places and serve as reference points to help your audience follow along.

annual achievements storytelling visuals

Imagery can make parts of your presentation more memorable.

Anecdotes and personal stories are also effective ways to improve presentations. They help to make the content more relatable and engaging. Examples of the material plucked from real life can be incredibly effective. Would you rather hear about statistics on heart attacks and strokes, or hear patient stories and first-hand experiences?

heart attack ppt illustration
storytelling idea sharing scribble figures slide

Or would you rather listen to a boring bullet point list of company milestones or to a story of a founder’s journey from a garage idea to a flourishing enterprise (definitely read Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson)?

mission and vision with nature picture background

If you aren’t sure of how to make your presentation more effective, think of ways to share your information and stories using these helpful image sets.

Resources of images for supporting your storytelling presentation

Here are a few slide graphics resources you can use to enhance the storytelling effect of your presentation:

The Creative Hand-drawn Company Presentation Template utilizes a scribble style. It offers ways to share more detailed market analyses and statistics. The diagrams, charts, and tables are all consistent and help tie your presentation together.

The Flat Visual Company Presentation Deck Template slide deck is a clean, modern take on business presentations. Rather than being a collection of graphics to include in your presentation, it offers templates for the entire presentation.

The Roadmap design templates for project strategy planning are great for storytelling involving timelines, approaching a goal, or making progress. (You can see more examples of these in action in this blog).

If youd like to embed personal stories or anecdotes, the Quotes PPT slide set might be the best option for you. There are modern-looking graphics, hand-drawn graphics, boxes, bubbles, and more.

The emotions and feelings PowerPoint icons can be useful when discussing interpersonal relations within your organization, sharing stories of customer scenarios or feedback, or any number of topics. 

If looking through these examples didnt help, try doing additional reading. We have an assortment of blogs about successful presenting methods which might help you construct your own narratives for better presentations. This post shares how to make a compelling investor presentation. This webinar-themed presentation blog outlines 14 ways to make your presentations more effective and may provide you with more ideas. This blog about using watercolor-style graphics details how you can use different graphic styles to improve your presentations.

Still need help? Check out these books on storytelling

If you feel like youre struggling with ways to turn your presentations into a story, or are concerned that your story isnt sufficiently interesting or engaging, consider reading these great books on storytelling.

Made to Stick“: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath seeks to break down what makes an idea or concept memorable. They break down their principles with plenty of case studies and examples. They vary their examples using everything from urban legends to business stories. Not only do they provide sound arguments, but the whole book serves as a masterclass in storytelling as an educational tool.

The best stats you’ve ever seen: see this video where Hans Rosling transforms what could have been a statistic-heavy presentation into an engaging story. A great storytelling presentation example:

Resonate“: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte reveals the underlying story form of all great presentations. Effective presentations not only entertain, but they create an impact that will move people to action. Duarte shares proven methods for ensuring your presentations will do just that.

Want a hand?

If you find youre still struggling, please reach out. Were presentation pros and would like to make this your best project, yet.

Published by

Peter Z

Chief Diagram Designer, infoDiagram co-founder