Keep your Audience Riveted by Adding Anticipation to Storytelling

By Ellen Finkelstein, Microsoft PowerPoint MVP

Everyone including PresentationXpert wanted me to share my opinion about two new features in PowerPoint 2016 -Morph and Design – that are available if you have Office 365 (meaning that you pay a monthly subscription) and you belonged to one of these free programs:powerpint-tips-storytelling-anticipation-loop-300x199

  • Office Insider: For consumer Office 365 customers (individuals)
  • First Release: for commercial Office 365 subscribers

But I couldn’t get access to it! It was very strange and I was the only PowerPoint MVP who didn’t have it — although others had difficulties earlier on. I got messages saying I didn’t have access to PowerPoint! Other messages said that my account didn’t exist. Read on and I’ll tell you what happened…

Did that make you want to read on?
When you tell a story, you can keep your audience glued to their seats by starting the story, interrupting it, telling them you’ll finish it at the end and then going on to other material. Of course, the story needs to be relevant to your topic. In this case, my story’s topic isn’t relevant, but it’s a model for the topic of this post. Perhaps you scanned down to the bottom of the post to read the end! But in a presentation, people have to wait until you finish the story. This is a powerful technique to keep their attention. You can use it for training, sales, and even internal proposal and progress presentations.

Why is storytelling so powerful?
By itself — without an interruption — storytelling is powerful because everyone loves a good story! We’ve grown up with stories and they put us in an enjoyable mood. And once we hear the beginning, we want to know the end.
Stories are also a way to provide a specific example. Generalities are fine, but they’re hard to relate to. You’ve probably heard how fundraisers find that they raise more money when they tell the story of one starving child than when they provide statistics about how many children are starving.

This technique is called a loop
Starting a story at the beginning and not finishing it until later on is called a loop. You can say, “We’ll find out what happened later on” or something like that. The story’s conclusion should make the same point as your presentation. In other words, the point of the story should illustrate the main point of your presentation.

Some storytellers use nested loops, creating 2 or more stories. This is common in TV episodes, where there are multiple sub-plots. You can use anticipation in many ways. For example, the title of your presentation can be intriguing:

  • How I Overcame Death by PowerPoint
  • Why I Couldn’t Get Access to Morph & Designer
  • What I Discovered When I Asked People on the Street about Their Smart Phones

Then you can start the story, interrupt it, and finish it at the end.  I have an older blog post about how to create intriguing slides that you might also find interesting. So try using interrupted stories in your presentations and see what results you get!

Have you used this looping technique in your presentations? What was your experience? If not, think of a way you can use it in your next presentation.

Oh, and you want to know what happened, right? After contacting Microsoft people for months via email, I called support. After 4 hours with 2 people, I was finally able to access the right version of Office 365 but it still wouldn’t update to the version with Office Insider or First Release. (By the way, you no longer need those programs to access Morph or Designer.) Finally, someone from Microsoft gave me a back-door method of installing Office 365 directly from Microsoft servers and that worked! So, a blog post on Morph and Designer, 2 great new PowerPoint features, will be coming out soon. Watch for it!

About Ellen Finkelstein:

EFinkelstein_by_rikk-smallllen Finkelstein is a recognized expert, speaker, trainer, and best-selling author on PowerPoint, presentation skills, and AutoCAD. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines, newsletters, and blogs. She is a PowerPoint MVP (Most Valuable Professional).There are only 37 PowerPoint MVPs in the world, and only 9 in the United States. Her Web site, offers a hug assortment of tips, techniques, tutorials, and articles on these topics.


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