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  • Writer's pictureFrancisco Mahfuz

E117. Fire Up Your Presentations with Storytelling

Below is an AI-generated transcript and therefore it may contain errors.

Francisco Mahfuz  0:00

Welcome to the Storypowers podcast, the show about the power of stories that people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco mahfuz. Normally, this show is an interview show. But sometimes I like to shake things up, or I've just haven't gotten around scheduling a guest. And what I wanted to cover in this one was something that I keep getting asked over and over, particularly when I'm doing corporate workshops, because a lot of people love storytelling, they love the idea of storytelling. But I'm not completely sure how you actually use it in business. Now, there's lots and lots of different ways you can use storytelling in business. But today, in this very short solo episode, I just want to focus on one particular way, which is how you put storytelling in your presentations. And even a little more than that, not just how you put it in your presentation, but what is the easiest structure you can use to build your presentations? So that's it. Let's get on with it. All right. So the very first thing anyone needs to do when when they want to prepare a presentation is figure out what is the takeaway? What is it that you want people to think about to feel like to do, by the end of your presentation, my good friend Connor knew he Connor, Neil, not all new, completely forgetting people's cell names, that's just rude. He just calls this point x. So at the end of my presentation, my audience will X, okay, so you want to do something, you want them to think about something, you have a call to action. So whatever, whatever that thing is, at the end, you need to figure out before you get started, because if you don't know the destination, it gets a little harder to actually arrive there, or even get started to be honest. So I call that the takeaway, and the takeaway could be a call to action, it could be something else. But for most business presentations, it's going to be a call to action, you want people to do something differently, you're not just informing them, if you're just informing them, that probably doesn't need to be a presentation, or at least not one, you have to worry too much about the ones that you have to put more effort in are the ones that involve changing people's minds or changing the way they're behaving. All right. So figure out the takeaway first, then you need, I would say at least three arguments for why you want people to think that way? Or do whatever you asking them to do. What are those arguments going to be? That depends, it could be data, a lot of business presentations will involve some type of data, they could be examples. So examples of things that are happening within your team that needs addressing, maybe something that's happening with your customers, or maybe a change in your industry. So you're going to have data, you're going to have examples in there, you're going to have different numbers, you might have different actions that have been taken and have been successful or haven't been successful. Again, it just, it just very much depends on what your presentation is. But what I would do at this stage is write down as many arguments as you can think of to make the point you're trying to make, you should be able to come up with at least five or six. And if you haven't got five or six, maybe you haven't got that stronger case and need to go back to the drawing board. But once you have those arguments, choose the strongest three, that's it just choose three, get rid of everything else for now. And once you've chosen the three, you need to order them and how do you order them, I tend to light or other things in a crescendo. So from the not the weakest to the strongest, because none of their arguments should be weak, but you leave the strongest the one that absolutely nails your case, to the end, a new build from the first onwards. So now this could be chronological, so maybe something happened, and then you did something about it. And the third argument is, is the conclusion of of the strategy that you found that works, it could be three different points, but the last one is just stronger. It could just be maybe, you know, a problem, some solutions you've tried. And the solution that's actually worked. Again, lots of different ways to do it. But just think of the three ways you want to prove your point. Order them so that the strongest one that one that absolutely nails your case is the third one. Now some people say that maybe you should have the strongest first, but to me just feels strange to have one thing that basically makes the case for you, and then gives give people smaller reasons to do the same thing to me that just doesn't flow right. Okay, so that was the The arguments part. And then we get to the exciting bit for me, which is the storytelling. So I tend to think of this as an example. So what is an example that you can share that either makes people understand the problem you're going to talk about, because typically a presentation involves a problem of some kind, what is an example that you can share that makes people care about what's going on. And usually that's going to be by by putting a human being in the picture. So you, you talk about something affecting a person. And that's the way that people understand the problem more and can care about the problem. And you can also just use an example or a story that connects you to that problem. So I tend to use two strategies very commonly, when it comes to examples, or the opening story. So either amusing one, just where it's something that happened to me or something that happened, someone I know, or someone, some thing that happened to someone in the business, that just makes people very clearly get the problem and realise why it matters. So that's, that's a typical one. The other one is the discovery, what I call the discovery story, which is, you're talking about how you first became aware of the problem, okay. And this is super easy to do in business, because there's a problem you're talking about, is either this is a problem that you just found out about. Or it's a problem that you just found out about, that it's important. So that discovery is the story you're going to share. So you know, three weeks ago, I went to one of our factories in the south of Spain. And normally, this is a really boring visit, but this time, blah, blah, blah. Okay, so I think I actually share the soil in a previous episode, but still valid. And actually, there's a different strategy, which is one I use all the time, which my friends at anecdote Sean Callahan, and marching, they call a connection story. So this is something that just connects you to the subject in a way that other people find relatable. And I'm gonna give plenty of examples of that. But in that case, it's a little less about the problem. And more about just showing people that you are the right person to talk about is that you understand what's going on, and you're involved with it in some way. And the first thing to do, the last thing you're doing whether you're preparing the presentation is thinking of a hook. So just something usually one line or two, that draws people's attention, and gives them an idea of why they should listen. Now, my preferable way of doing this either I just jump straight into the story. So the hook and the example are the same thing. But I can also just ask a question, use a shocking statistic, or just actually just say one line, that might be a little controversial, or at least intriguing. And I'm gonna give you an example of a presentation that I've done recently in then all these things are going to connect. So the sash sections are hook, then example, which is another word for story, in my mind, at least, arguments and takeaway, and if you've been paying attention, they spell the word heat, which is part of the reason why I named this episode fire, your presentations and storytelling, I did a workshop for a corporate client, via Microsoft tell you who it was, because otherwise the story makes no make no sense. It was with king who are the people who make Candy Crush. And this was a pretty big workshop and 150 people in the room. And the way I started it was I said, I never played Candy Crush, and I never will because of what happened in 2001. So that was my hook. Okay, so I'm talking to a group of people where a lot of them work on Candy Crush, or at least they know that Candy Crush is fairly important to the to their business, because one of the biggest assets, understandably, a lot of people looked at me like, What is this crazy guy saying,

Francisco Mahfuz  9:11

right? Why is he attacking one of our most valuable assets? So so that's what I did. That was the hook and you know, got people to pay attention. Then I shared a fairly quick story about how, in 2001, the university back home in Brazil went on strike, and the teachers and the staff stopped working. So all the classes were suspended. And after a few months, I started getting bored, and I decided that maybe this was a time to go back to playing video games, because I hadn't played anything for a few years. And at the time, back in the days I used to play, the stuff that was popular was actually get war games like Diablo, or rock and roll racing. Now this is actually true. I love those games, but it's also convenient that both Diablo and rock'n'roll racing were games created I, Activision Blizzard, which is the parent company of King. So, you know, point of connection again, between me and the audience there and explained that, you know, I started looking for different video games, a friend of mine recommended a game called boulders gate, I started playing that. And the next thing I knew, he was three days later, and I had only left to the garage, which is where I kept my computer back then, to go to the bathroom, and to order some pizza. And that's when I realised that I couldn't dress myself with any good games. And that's why I'm never going to play Candy Crush. So that was my connection story to the audience. So this is not, I wasn't really connecting in any way to the problem that I was going to talk to them about, which is why storytelling is important, and why normal communication doesn't work. But I was connecting myself to the audience. So are you going to use that particular approach on business? You can sometimes you can absolutely tell what one minute story one minute and a half story that connects you to that particular audience, maybe to the department in the company, maybe to the industry that you're talking to, and then launch into the rest of your presentation. So what I wanted to talk to them about the presentation really was about was how normal sort of rational forms of communication are not terribly effective. And I made a particular point about how they're very easy to forget. And, you know, if you if you're forgetting, you're forgetting people forgetting what you told them, then it's not your communications never going to be particularly effective. So my three arguments were first of all, I asked them about how how much they thought people remembered the representations. And if they thought that people remembered everything that they told them, or how much they remembered, I think I actually asked him for some percentages. And they basically said, No, people don't remember, I doubt they remember much, they probably forgetting half of it, if not more. So I asked them, for them to give me confirmation that the problem that I'm talking about exists, okay, it's very easy thing to do in business, you ask people, they tell you instant credibility, because it's not us saying it, it's them. Then the second thing I did was, I did this little demo, that if you follow me on LinkedIn, you probably have seen where I say that facts are like ice cubes. And you know, I tell people that there's a problem with rational communication, because of the way our brains deal with facts, I get someone on stage, I start giving them some ice cubes. And you know, it's uncomfortable to hold on to them, and they're slippery, and they're cold. And then I dump a whole bunch of ice cubes in the hands of ice cubes for everywhere. And then I say, you know, with the best people in the world, even if they want to hold on to this, they just can't, because sooner or later, they're going to melt and those leap right out of their hands. And that's exactly what happens to facts in our brains. So that's my sort of my second argument. And then in the third one, quote, some research just to prove that this is not just inventing ideas, I actually say that I could give them a lot more research, but I don't think I have to, because I'm willing to bet that they have a favourite movie. And even though they haven't watched it in 10 or 20 years, they still remember what the movie was about who the main characters were some of the some of the favourite, their favourite scenes, and maybe even some lines of dialogue. And everybody agrees to that everybody's sort of nodding and agreeing with me. So I attacked the same problem in three different ways, which is, the first two are mostly about proving to them or having them agree with me that normal communication is easy to forget. And I gave them a very visual representation of that the ice cubes. And then my third argument is, I'm just showing to them how, even though they don't remember most things, they do remember movies, which are type of story. And then I get to my takeaway, which is if you want people to remember anything, you're telling them, then you need to tell stories to Okay, so this is this is the heat structure applied to a part of a presentation. I mean, this was a, you know, it's almost two hour workshop. This is not all I did, obviously, this, this whole thing only took maybe 10 minutes. And that was just how I introduced the idea of storytelling and the idea of the workshop. Now, how do I use what I did for the rest of the workshop, but most of it was practical exercises. So it's not as if I was presenting and talking for all the time. But just about every time I'm going to talk, I'm using the structure again. So maybe I'm going to introduce a completely different part of the workshop. So maybe it's about vulnerability, or it might be about how people were embarrassed about telling stories. So I, I introduced it either straight with the story or just with the hook. Then I lay out my arguments. And then there is some sort of takeaway, and that is the approach that you Use for just about anything like when I'm, when I'm writing a post on social media, there is going to be a hook, which is that very first line there. Often there is a story right after or an example, then I lay out my arguments and there'll be a takeaway at the end of the post, when I'm doing a short presentation, this is a structure I use. And if I'm doing a longer presentation, this structure is going to repeat itself a few times. So maybe you have a longer presentation to do at work, there's a few different points you're trying to hit, then what you're going to do is you're going to do the structure, close one of the sections of your presentation, and then go again, right, get another hook to grab their attention, or the move their attention to different parts of, of the subject, then an example then arguments and then takeaways is the example part, the only part you need to that you can put a story in No, I mean, if your arguments are good depends on the type of the length of your presentation. But if your arguments are about things happening in the business or with customers, one of those arguments can be an example. So it just depends. If you already used an example earlier, then you're not going to use another example of the same kind as one of the arguments. But if you're, if you're storing the beginning of the presentation was how you discover the problem. One of the arguments can be a story about what's happening to a customer, or a story that's happened that's happening within your team. So you can absolutely use more than one example in a presentation. In that means you can use more than one story. Alright, so just to recap that the structure, the structure spells out heat, which stands for hook exemple, another word for story, arguments and take away. Now what I'm going to do is, if you hit me up on LinkedIn, or anywhere else, my email is probably somewhere on the on the show notes, but you can find my website, contact me there. Let me know that you listen to the pod to this episode. And you want the actual structure. I have a PDF a one pager with all the steps of putting together one of these presentations with with the heat structure, and a whole bunch of ideas of how to do that well. So if this sounds interesting to you, hit me up. I would love to share that. And that's that. That's how you bring the heat and fire up your presentations with storytelling. So as always, thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves and until next time

I hope you enjoyed the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find the show. Then scroll down a little and when you see the stars tap, I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find us. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website

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