The very word presentation freezes people up. From the moment you know you’ve got a presentation to do, the tension starts to build.

So how would you feel if you told a story to make your point instead?

You’ve been telling stories since you could speak.  You’re probably a good story teller. We tend to feel more at ease when we’re telling a story to someone we know will enjoy it.

Story telling is as natural as standing upright. But we tend to forget our innate story-telling skills when hypnotised by the prospect of giving a presentation.

Here’s four reasons why telling a story will carry you through and make more of an impact.

  • When you tell a story you don’t need notes.
  • You’re more likely to be authentic.
  • You’re more likely to be relaxed.
  • And you’re more likely to be remembered – because your story will be personal and memorable.

The story-telling workshops I held in a number of Melbourne grammar schools this year, were themselves a case in point.

My message was that for story-telling to be powerful, it has to be personal, emotive and authentic.

Here’s the story I told to get that point across. It’s my own personal story of the humiliation I felt as a teenager with protruding ears. It’s no exaggeration to say they stuck out at a 90 degree angle.  Barn door ears, bat ears, open taxi doors, elephant ears – these were some of the names I was called, and more.

It’s a first world problem, but for my 14-year-old self it resulted in very low self-esteem. I struggled to look in the mirror, when my peers at school called me the ugliest person in the universe.

It was tough for a kid who would have preferred to go about unnoticed, but had to put up with people sneaking up from behind, flicking my ears and teasing me.

Without the support of my father, and pre-Internet, I found a surgeon. Then I convinced my mother that I needed an operation.  She supported me and in fact felt responsible, as she had laid me in my cot as a baby with my ears folded forward and had created the problem.

I went ahead with the surgery. It involved pain, needles and the sound of cartilage in my ears being cut out. Afterwards I wore an enormous mummy-like bandage around my head. When that was finally removed, I passed out at the sight of my bruised and swollen ears.

But three months later, once the bruising had subsided, so did the teasing, and I started to feel great!

The point is this. To make an impact you have to make it personal and emotional – and you’re more likely to do that with a story. I didn’t need notes or Power Point. The students at those grammar schools could see my pain and torment and probably relate to it. So the story reinforced my point. If your audience can walk away and remember your story, you’ve achieved any presenter’s goal – you’ve got your point across.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.


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