Stories presented in an unappealing way might as well not be shared at all

Estimated read time: 3 minutes

You are sitting in a room of about 150 people. Right in the middle. You are at a conference that you begged your boss to let you attend. This speaker knows his stuff – at least that’s what you’ve gathered from written materials – social media, web articles, etc.

The audience welcomes the speaker with an enthusiastic round of applause. And then the presentation starts.

“Welcome. I’m so glad you picked my session. You have a lot of choices here today,” he says in a voice so quiet it’s best used to make sure not to wake the sleeping kids at home.

“Um. Today I want to share a success story with you. Now, keep in mind that this might not work for your organization, but here it goes…”

His voice shivers. You’d feel sorry for him but instead have tuned out and are now checking email. Thank goodness the wireless connection is holding up,

Whatever content he presented was lost on you because the presentation was sleep inducing. At one point you took a break from email and Twitter and looked up.

Wait, is he reading that slide word for word? I can do that myself. Just upload the slide deck to Slideshare.

You end up running out of emails (totally possible!) and look for something to do. You Google the presenter. He’s a world-renown expert on this topic – and not just according to his self-authored Twitter profile.

Wow, this study he’s talking about is really ground breaking, according to an article you found from a reputable magazine. But what if you can’t listen to him because he is too nervous to speak publicly?

The story is lost.

Stories have to be presented in an engaging and compelling way – no matter what the channel of distribution is.

If it’s a presentation, there usually has to be some entertainment value included to keep the audience’s attention.

I’ve learned this over the years of speaking at conferences and seminars across Northern America. Once I started adding some entertainment value, my ratings went up – way up.

After one presentation, an audience member hand wrote a 10 and circled the 10 on the feedback form. This was a scale of 1 to 5, with five being the best. Most others have a 5.

The person’s comment below: “So much fun.”

But what about the content?

People will remember content if they remember that they felt great because the interaction was fun, fast paced, etc.

If presenters put them to sleep, they’ll remember that but not the content – no matter how award-winning it might be.

Once again, storytelling comes down to picking the channel that will work for you (and your audiences).

If you can’t speak publicly, don’t sign up to speak at conferences – or get coaching before the next time.

If you can’t write, don’t blog. Maybe podcasting is better for you?

The biggest thing to remember: Find the channel that fits your skills. Use that to start spreading your story.

Then practice for the other channels. Nobody wants a good story to be lost because of terrible delivery – no matter the channel.