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Storytelling for Memorable Presentations

Mar 5, 2021 | 4m


Creatives, you may be teeming with great ideas, being able to present them convincingly is crucial. Think of every presentation as an opportunity to story tell. If you’re able to understand the components of a good story, you will be able to translate them to your presentation and thus convey your ideas in a way that captures your audience’s interest. Here are some tips to get you started.

  1. Every good story has a beginning, middle and end. Does your presentation have an engaging beginning? Does it have a strong middle? How does it end? Can you start with an anecdote before jumping into your presentation? 
  2. Every good story has a strong conflict. What’s the conflict in your presentation that your idea will resolve?
  3. Every good story has suspense that makes an audience constantly question what next. As a good storyteller how will you build suspense in your presentation even if you are presenting a campaign for the most ‘boring’ of products? This should also tell you that no product category is inherently difficult or boring. It’s only our reaction to it that makes it boring or tough in our eyes. 
  4. Every good story has strong characters. Look at your presentation  again. Does it have strong characters? Can you look at the brand you are advertising as one strong character of your ‘story’. What other characters are there in your presentation ‘story’?
  5. Every good story builds a great atmosphere in our minds. How will you do that when you are presenting? Trust me, you definitely can. 
  6. Lastly, memorable stories have great endings that will leave the audience thinking and reliving the story long after it has ended. Does your presentation have a strong ending? Will your clients be left thinking about your presentation and your work after you have left the room? It could be a story you recount to end the presentation. It could be a joke that you crack. It could be a dramatic leave behind. Whatever it is ask yourself as you are preparing for the presentation, ‘How will I end the presentation?’

Use whatever is in your arsenal to tell a good story and present it in a way that it comes alive. I recall this one experience when I was working on a campaign for  McDowell’s No. 1 Soda, a Diageo USL India brand. ‘Friendships’ had been the long running theme for the brand’s communication. As I was working on the campaign and researching insights around deep friendships, one  realisation struck me. 

One of the things that’s very authentic and epitomises deep friendships is the farewell videos that you play at graduation ceremonies or when a colleague is leaving. You find many such videos posted on YouTube too. In many of these videos one finds the same songs on friendship being used over and over again. The likes of  Bruno Mars’ “Count on Me” or ‘I'll be there for You’  or ‘That’s what friends are for.” That gave me an idea. What if a brand like McDowell’s No.1 could create and own India’s next friendship anthem?  Why not?

So I wrote a song on our deepest friendships and titled it ‘No.1 Yaari’ or ‘No.1 Friendship’. It not only borrowed from the brand name but also referred to strong bonds and deep friendships. I wrote about friendship that’s deeper than any ocean and higher than any sky, that has seen many summers together and become strong with each passing year. Much of the inspiration came from my own friendships and my own experiences. I guess that’s what makes some of our ideas most authentic. 

I got a scratch recording done and presented it to the client weaving in the story of how the authenticity and emotionally charged feel of farewell videos had inspired me to come up with a song instead of the usual 60 second ad. The client loved the idea. As we progressed with the campaign we built a story of three friends around the song and shot it as a music video. ‘No.1 Friendship’ is now a long running platform idea for the brand and the music piece from the song is now an important brand asset. The video continues to garner millions of views on YouTube but the best proof of its popularity is that many farewell videos on YouTube now use McDowell's No.1’s ‘Yeh No.1 Yaari Hai’ as their soundtrack.

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Sonal Dabral

Former Chief Creative Officer of South East and South Asia, and Vice Chairman, India




Presenting at Work