Valuable lessons Aesop’s fables offer modern-day presenters

Persuasion is often more effectual than force   ~  Aesop  (620–564 BC)

Neuroscience has only just begun to confirm what our ancestors knew instinctively: Stories teach. Stories captivate. And stories let us remember information with much less effort. Our brains are actually wired to retain, organize and recall information through stories.

That critical fact hasn’t changed throughout human history. 

But the tools that let us tell those stories have changed radically. The latest technology for presentations, though, can — and will — undermine your impact if you forget the age-old lessons that story-tellers such as Aesop conveyed through his fables.

Here are three tips for making your presentation unfold like a story, so your audience listens to your message, retains it and can access the information later.

  • Identify the most important thing you want your audience to learn
  • Use analogies and examples to reflect the main idea of the story
  • At the end, give your audience the moral of the story

It works for almost any subject.

I created an example, at the end of this post, for a presentation on the power of social media. It’s targeted to folks whose organizations want to deepen their use of social media channels and tools.

I’ll give this caution: distilling a presentation into three steps is not easy.

And, you can’t work around this task. You need to decide upon the main messages at the front end, before you create slides. The idea is that distilling the information you need your audience to grasp, as a first step, informs the rest of the preparation. It guides what you tell your audience, how and why.

Once you’ve got the main purpose of the presentation boiled down, the hard part is done. You’ve got a cheat sheet, of sorts, for deciding what to include, after that. The information all relates to the main point of the story and builds toward the lesson you want to impart to your audience — the moral of the fable.

The process gets smoother with practice.

Plus, it’s worth the work on the front end. If you give a presentation framed like this, and told as a story, it will captivate your audience. They will remember what you said. They will remember your main points. And that’s the whole point of making a presentation, isn’t it? (After all, we still remember Aesop and he was a slave who told stories more than two thousand five hundred years ago…)

Case study 

I created a presentation example demonstrating these three steps. It’s aimed at an audience from smaller organizations that aren’t sophisticated social media users, yet. But they want to deepen their use of social media channels and tools. The presentation unfolds like a story. (I suggest, under the button marked “more,” using the full screen setting, but not using auto-play.)

As you view it, watch for the three main components:

  • The most important thing I want this audience to learn is that social media is very powerful for brands
  • The analogies and examples that reflect this main idea of the story show this in different ways
  • At the end, the audience gets the lesson of the story (or moral of the fable)

It was created with Prezi, which helps direct audience attention precisely to specific elements of the presentation. Because of this, I like creating a Prezi much more than using slides. If you don’t work with Prezi, it’s worth exploring the site, where several wonderful tutorials await. This is another Prezi I created to help walk an audience through a subject that some might find daunting, otherwise.

I’d be eager to hear if this approach keeps your audience rapt during your next presentation.

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  1. Valuable lessons Aesop’s fables offer modern-day presenters

    Thanks for these tips, Becky! I am getting into doing more webinars and presentations lately. I’ll give Prezi a try. I’m always up for a simplistic way of doing things.
    Best Regards,
    Janine N. Truitt

    • Valuable lessons Aesop’s fables offer modern-day presenters

      @CzarinaofHR Janine, thanks so much for the comment. Let me know how @Prezi works out for you. The tutorials on the site are short and really helpful.

      • Valuable lessons Aesop’s fables offer modern-day presenters

        @BeckyGaylord You’re welcome. Nice to know even there tutorials are to the point.
        All the best,

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