How To Tell A Story During A Presentation

We’ve all heard repeatedly the importance of storytelling in business scenarios, such as presentations, pitches, interviews, and sales calls. Despite the prevalence of the suggestion to use stories during business communication, there is seemingly a void of great advice on how to tell a story during professional interactions. Thus, most professionals know they should be weaving stories into their communication, but have no idea how to make that happen effectively.

That is why the 99u article, The Five Beats of Successful Storytelling, is such a gem of a resource. In the article, Jenn Tardif outlines a storytelling framework developed by performer, comedian, and storytelling guru David Crabb. For an in-depth review of the framework, I suggest checking out the entire 99u article. However below you can find the most important highlights from the storytelling framework, The 5 Beats of Storytelling. 

1. Introduction

Use the introduction of your story to set the scene. For example, answer some or all of these questions in your introduction:

–     Who is involved?

–     What is happening?

–     How is it happening? (Be descriptive.)

–     Where does the story take place?

In addition, use the introduction to communicate the value of your story. Let listeners know why they should pay attention to your story. This is your chance to hook the audience. Use the questions below to develop your hook:

–     Why is this story interesting and meaningful?

–    Is your story funny? Educational? Touching?

2. Inciting Incident

Quickly move from the introduction to the inciting incident because the inciting incident is inherently interesting. The inciting incident is the challenge the protagonist faces, or the issue the story is tackling.

–     Present the question the story is asking.

–     Introduce the protagonist’s dilemma.

–     Don’t be afraid to show vulnerability.

3. Raising The Stakes

Next, walk the audience through the series of events that add meaning and context to the inciting incident.

–     For example, describe emotions and sensations experienced by characters.

–     In addition, start to build towards climax.

–     Be specific to ensure your story is memorable.

–     Take your time to ensure the audience is emotionally invested in the story.

4. The Main Event

During the 4th beat of this storytelling framework, reveal the climax.

–     What is the resolution to the problem or challenge?

–     Explain the protagonist’s epiphany or realization, as well as the events that triggered this conclusion.

5. The Resolution

To conclude your story, highlight what makes the story unique.

–     Reflect on what was gained during this experience, and/or what can be learned from this story.

–     Use the resolution as a segue into a call-to-action, if story is part of a pitch.


For more storytelling tips, check out these resources:

5 Storytelling Tips for Presentations

3 Storytelling Tips from Acclaimed Writer Burt Helm

How To Prepare A Story For A Business Presentation

How Stories Impact Sales

How To Find A Story To Enhance Your Public Speaking Presentations

The Science of Storytelling For Presentations (Infographic)

New Call-to-action

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


Still need more help with your presentation?

We've got the solutions. Talk to Us