Sometimes to move forward, we have to go back. Using a flashback to a monumental time in our lives can help us deliver an impactful message. Flashbacks are a literary device where a specific experience from the past is told to the audience. This is a public speaking skill that is used for almost all presentations. If you think business presentations don’t need this storytelling element, think again. Flashbacks are an effective tool to use in presentations to sell your story. Here are three ways to use flashbacks in business presentations.

Public Speaking Skill: Using Flashbacks in Business Presentations

public speaking skill


To prove that your solutions are the best choice for a specific problem, recall a time involving this experience. The best way to explain how solutions work is to explain the complexities of the problem. Go back to a time before your service or product existed, and give details on the challenges and obstacles you faced. Then fast-forward to the present where your service or product has been proven to be the best solution.

Example: Last year, I was struggling to organize my list of opt in emails from my website. Manually entering in the information on a spreadsheet became too time consuming. Most websites I used would not integrate correctly or would crash. I thought, there’s got to be a cloud based system that could automatically sync my contact list to a program I could use. Today, that program exists. Opt-In Operations is my program that cuts through the tedious work and save all your email lists on the cloud, where you can access it anytime and never worry about losing your information.


If you want people to connect to any of your business presentations, tell them why you began your business in the first place. Every business has a back story, and this can serve as an inspiration for your audience. By using a personal experience to frame your presentation, the audience will become emotionally invested in anything you have to offer.

Example: You may be wondering how I got here today. Let me tell you, this was not an easy. Ten years ago, I was working at a dead-end job and not sure what was next for my career. I always had a passion for travel but never knew how to meet that passion while working 9 to 5. I decided to take a risk and quit my job. Then, I found a program that allowed me to travel while I taught English courses to college students. This is where the idea for my company was born. It took three years to get it off the ground and running, but it was worth every moment.


Getting your audience to follow through with an action takes a lot of persuasion. A story about a time you acted could be just what they need to hear. This is a must-have public speaking skill. If you are highlighting a crisis in a community, tell your audience about the time you first discovered the problem. Give visual details to raise the tension. And end with a compelling call to action that no one can deny.

Example: Landmines. These deadly weapons are not something we think about everyday in the United States. But if you travel to parts of Africa, you will quickly learn that this is a very real threat. Two summers ago, I joined a mission trip to three countries in West Africa. I visited local hospitals, or shelters in towns that didn’t have hospitals. Many of the people there were missing legs, arms, some were covered in scars and bruises. Even children, their small bodies were damaged because of a landmine. Even worse, many people, adults and children, die every year by landmines.

I began to ask what was being done about this but no one seemed to have an answer. That’s why I started this organization. We will help one community at a time rid their land of these deadly weapons. With your donation, you can help remove landmines for an entire community. You are not only making the world a safer place, but you are saving lives. Donate now.

These are just some examples of how a flashback can create conflict, tension or action in business presentations. For more tips on how to get creative with your content, look at these posts on the Ethos3 blog:

3 Steps for Using Motifs in Presentation Content

Presentation Skill: Using Juxtaposition in Your Content

Public Speaking Skills: Using Vignettes in Your Presentations


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