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This post was written by
Scott Schwertly

Scott is the Founder and CEO of Ethos3.

A few weeks ago, we made the irrefutable case for using storytelling in presentations using what we’d learned from Jonathan Gottschall’s fascinating book, The Storytelling Animal. We’ve briefly touched on his discussion of how multiplayer online roleplaying games (MMORPGs) are transforming storytelling, which is yet further evidence of the importance of including stories in presentations. Here’s why.

World of Warcraft is the most popular MMORPG on the market. As of October 2012, over 10 million people subscribe to the online game, with over 12 million at its peak. As Gottschall points out, that number exceeds the population of Nicaragua and Norway combined. WoW is a world unto itself; it’s a society of “profound meaning” that provides an escape from “the bleakness of modern life.”

No less than fifteen novels unfold WoW’s backstory, so when a player enters the online world, he or she is essentially becoming a character in a developing epic. This kind of interactive fiction is becoming the new normal in modern life. We are no longer content with passively taking in stories about other people. Instead, we want to be part of the action. We want to be the hero of our own dramatic story as it unfolds.

Gottschall writes that MMORPGs, like WoW, “…perfects much of what draws us to fiction in the first place: a sense of identification that is complete because we are the characters, and a perfect illusion of transportation into an alternative universe.” The real takeaway here is how much meaning these MMORPGS bring to the players involved. Because the story is so intricately infused into their lives, because they are such an essential character in the story, they feel awash with poignant, heady importance.

The heady feeling of importance WoW imparts onto its users is precisely why stories are so powerful, and why we should always include them in our presentations. The audience is the most important thing about a presentation, and as presenters, we should constantly ask ourselves: “What’s in it for them?” We should continue to ask ourselves what we can do to make our audience feel important because if we achieve that, they will feel a strong compulsion to care, to be swayed and moved by our presentation.

The ability to immerse oneself so completely into WoW is why its users feel such strong meaning and attachment to the game. How can you use stories in your presentations to evoke a similar reaction in your audience? How can you use storytelling to encourage your audience to wholly immerse themselves into your presentation? Give it a try!

 

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