Seth Godin is a man who needs no introduction. He’s the founder and CEO of Squidoo.com, the author of 15 international bestsellers, and most well known for his innovative, industry-altering thoughts on marketing. His 2009 bestseller All Marketers Are Liars is essentially a manifesto on marketing, and from it, we can glean a wealth of knowledge about storytelling, marketing and presentations.
“Stories make it easier to understand the world. Stories are the only way we know to spread an idea. Marketers didn’t invent storytelling. They just perfected it.”
Google provides a very vague definition of marketing: The action or business of promoting and selling products or services. Marketing goes hand-in-hand with presenting because what are presentations for but to promote or sell an idea, product or service? The primary goal of the presenter is to sell an idea to the audience, and the best, most effective way to do that is through telling stories. And if that has been the case since the beginning of time, why would we go out of our way to fix what’s not broken? Tell stories to spread the message of your presentation in an accessible, compelling way.
Godin’s All Marketers Are Liars also offers three essential questions for marketers, which apply nicely to presenters as well:
1. What’s your story?
Ask yourself, from a 30,000-foot view, what story are you trying to communicate with your presentation? What’s the most compelling information? What’s the most important takeaway? How can you communicate your main point most effectively in a story framework?
2. Will the people who need to hear this story believe it?
There are two important considerations here: Will your audience believe your story? And is the story specifically tailored to them? Your presentation’s story is going to fall flat on its face if it’s not believable, and if it’s a story that doesn’t need to be heard by the audience, it won’t keep them interested enough to make an impression.
3. Is it true?
Most people have a pretty good bullshit detector, so never present a story that’s patently false, deceptive or inconsistent. The very moment your story begins to seem fake or phony is the very moment your audience will tune out and turn off. People value authenticity and honesty, so honor both virtues in your storytelling.