There is no denying the power of stories, especially for presenters. However, understanding the importance of stories for presentations, and being able to craft the perfect story to fit your speech, are two very different things. If you are ready to add a compelling narrative to your presentation, but don’t know where to start, included below are 5 solutions to your problem. Before you sit down at your computer, stare at a blank screen, and suffer from writer’s block, try one of these tips to get inspired to write the perfect story for your next presentation.
1. Look at photos.
To refresh your memory of great stories that could add meaning to your presentation, look through your personal photo collection. As you look through your images, memories will come flooding back and bring to mind experiences that might not even be featured in any of your pictures.
If your personal photos don’t do the trick, search stock photo sites for images that relate to your topic. The image results might remind you of a powerful experience that you can use for a story, or give you the creative spark you need to craft a fictional tale that will activate the imaginations of your audience members.
If photos don’t inspire you, call some friends or colleagues who might have stories that relate to your topic. Offer to buy them dinner or coffee if they will casually chat with you about your presentation. By keeping the conversation light and letting it unfold organically, stories will likely rise to the surface as they normally do when friends get together for socializing. The key is to not force it. You should talk about your presentation somewhat, but don’t be afraid to wander off topic for a bit. And definitely don’t start the conversation by requesting a story immediately. The best stories are usually the ones that you remember amidst an enjoyable conversation.
Stop trying so hard. Let your mind wander and trust that the perfect story will come to you. Mind-wandering, often seen as daydreaming, allows the brain to incubate new approaches to familiar problems, serving “as a foundation for creative inspiration,” says the 2012 study in Psychological Science, according to the Wall Street Journal article, Tactics to Spark Creativity.
The same article suggests daydreaming while enjoying a cold beer or staring at a green forest to improve your chances of having an epiphany. Since these suggestions are more enjoyable than staring at a blank Word document while waiting for inspiration, why not give them a try? You have nothing to lose, except maybe some stress.
4. Go for a walk.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to conjure up the ideal story for your presentation is to take a walk or hike. Step away from your computer, lace up your walking shoes, and go for a stroll. It’s that simple. According to a 2014 Stanford study, a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60 percent when walking.
5. Pursue happiness.
Whatever activity makes you the happiest should be your go-to activity when brainstorming, instead of trying to force a great story to appear out of thin air. Scientists have determined that people in a relaxed state and a good mood are far more likely to develop innovative or creative thoughts, according to the NPR article ‘Imagine’ That: Fostering Creativity In The Workplace.
Conclusion: Storytelling is an important skill that presenters need to master to be effective. However, there is no need to stress about selecting the perfect story for your next public speaking gig. In fact, instead of stressing, you should try relaxing. Do not rack your brain for the ideal narrative; let your mind wander, and enjoy pleasurable activities. The perfect story will appear and it will feel magical.
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