People love stories particularly if they are well told. They are they way our ancestors passed on their wisdom and despite the recent surge in new communications media, the story is still alive and well.

I was reminded of just how important they are by two recent incidents. The first was yesterday when I was travelling on the underground after a running a presentation skills workshop in the City. After I sat down, no this isn’t a fairy story, I did get a seat on the tube for once, I noticed that the lady opposite was entertaining her granddaughter by telling her a story.

What made this example so special was the way in which she was telling the story. She was animated, expressive and descriptive. I couldn’t help but become engaged myself and I noticed that I wasn’t the only one. Lots of people on that crowded tube were entranced by the granny’s storytelling abilities. If only more business presenters could learn what this lady did instinctively the days of boring business presentations would be numbered!

My second example comes from a professional speaker. Internet psychologist and speaker Graham Jones was talking to a group of entrepreneurs in Southampton on how to make money from blogging. Now I have heard many so called experts speak and many have been a great disappointment, but not so Graham. Not only does he know his subject, he presents it in an engaging humorous and straightforward manner.

In forty five minutes he convinced a sceptical and largely non “geeky” audience of the considerable benefits to be gained from blogging. He demystified the subject and made us all feel that we could all be effective bloggers with just a little bit of planning and the use of some super free online service from Google called Blogger.

However there was one other thing in particualr that Graham did which really lifted his presentation. He told stories and he told them well. His talk was peppered with entertaining yet relevant anecdotes which grabbed our attention and sharpened our recall. He “acted out” elements of these stories using his body language. He kept them interesting by varying the pace, volume and tone of his delivery and he kept us involved with excellent eye contact.

As a teacher of presentation skills, I still love to see other people demonstrate so effectively the simple secrets which lift a presentation from mediocrity to greatness. Thanks Graham for being such a good exemplar.

Leave a Comment