From your brand story, ambition story and proof stories, to your prospect’s stories and opening and closing stories, there are many different stories you can tell in your presentations and proposals to get the results you need. So here is a story of mine to start this article….
I undertook presentation skills training for people who act as Ambassadors for a charity.
The aim of their presentation is to raise the profile of the charity, enlist volunteers and generate funding.
Listening to the people in the training session discuss their experience, their story, of living with the medical condition was moving for everyone present.
How this relates to all of us when undertaking presentations and proposals
Even if our stories are not as emotionally charged as that of people living with a life threatening or debilitating medical condition, whether we are selling software, legal services or an art gallery or charity partnership, we can use stories in our presentations and proposals to help us attain the results we need.
The key is knowing how and where to use our stories to achieve the desired outcome and being clear on whose story we are trying to tell.
To achieve our goal (and presentations typically have three goals: to inform, to inspire and to motivate people to take action) we must use our stories as part of a logical argument to induce action and not see the communication of a story as an end in itself.
Be clear on the end goal – informing and inspiring without action is a missed opportunity
Too often people inform and inspire and forget the important part of why they are there – to get the audience to take action.
If the goal is to get the audience to buy our product, donate money or sponsor, we must use our stories at the appropriate points within the presentation to build the logical argument.
Building your logical argument
In the case of the charity ambassadors, the logical argument in the body of the presentation is as follows:
- This is the medical condition
- This is my story living with the condition
- This is the charity
- This is the story of how the charity helped me
- This is how you can make a difference by helping the charity
Each chunk in the body serves an equal and valuable part in building the logical argument and the story is used as part of the argument not as the argument.
Additional types of stories include:
If you are selling a service you might build the argument in a different way such as:
- This is your prospect’s current situation
- This is your prospect’s desired situation
- Why you are competent to provide the solution
- Your solution
In this example, your stories, around how you have helped other people in a similar situation, will demonstrate and provide proof as to your competency to provide the solution.
Your prospect’s stories
For those people engaging corporate partners, the key is to convey how your story can help to communicate your partner’s story.
I see too many organisations go wrong here focusing too much on their own story rather than how their story can help the corporate to tell their story. They have mistakenly copied their approach to individual donors to corporates.
Corporates are looking to tell a range of stories about themselves, for example, that they are community and family focused, they value diversity and inclusiveness, they are national, sustainable, innovative and….caring! etc
Organisations seeking corporate partners have to identify which of these stories they can help to tell.
The stories will be attached to the organisation’s mission, vision, programs, services, audiences, events and values.
These stories are uncovered as part of the process of understanding what your organisation has to offer and the propositions you can take to market; a crucial and important step too often overlooked by many organisations seeking partners who focus too much on the merits of a program, service and event rather than the stories those programs, services and events help to communicate for corporates.
I recently bought a way too expensive pair of shorts. Why? because I read an article in Velocity magazine on a Virgin flight about the brand and its story – its history, how it came to be, its values and ideas etc. I liked the story of the brand and their story sold me their product before I walked into the store.
What is your brand story that will make your prospects want to partner with you, work with you, donate to you, meet you?
One of the important stories to tell is what I like to refer to as your ambition, this is outlining where you are headed as an organisation and what you are looking to achieve in the next 3 years, 5 years, 10 years. (This is a question I like to ask clients when facilitating their Strategic Planning sessions).
Your ambition should be motivating so that people and companies want to be part of your journey and your story NOW!
Open and closing stories
Stories are also a great way of starting a presentation and proposal, hooking people in, gaining their attention and also in the closing to leave a powerful and memorable message – people remember what they hear first and last.
For your next presentation and proposal
For your next presentation and proposal consider your goal, then structure your presentation and proposal in a way that builds the logical argument for why someone should take the action you want them to take.
Consider your brand story, your ambition story, your proof stories, your prospect’s stories that you can help tell. Also how you can use your stories to make a memorable open or close.
If you would like to find out more about how to uncover your stories that are relevant to your prospects and how to structure and deliver compelling propositions and proposals join me at the following workshops