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How to get started with presentations

Every presentation must tell a story

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Presenting is about communicating, and the enemy of communication is boredom! I'd imagine that you have sat through some boring presentations before, so you'll know that boring presentations are difficult to listen to, hard to understand, and sap your will to live. So how do you avoid giving a boring presentation?

One very good way of making sure that your presentation is interesting and engaging is to ensure there's a clear story running through it. A seemingly random list of points is hard to follow, unmemorable and boring. A story establishes the 'characters' and sets the scene, presents a problem that the audience can care about, and solves the problem in a satisfying way.

By using your presentation to tell a story, you make the job of structuring your presentation easier too. Everyone knows a story has a beginning - where the scene is set and the 'characters' are introduced; a middle where the action takes place; and an end where the the story resolves itself into a satisfactory conclusion.

But how do you decide what story to tell? Presentations should be built using the 'rule of three': you need to decide what three messages you want your audience to take away with them. What are the three things your audience must remember if your presentation is to be a success?

If a presentation is going to engage and entertain, it must tell a story. In the following activity, you'll explore the Slideshare website and discover that the best presentations have strong stories.

Activity: every presentation should tell a story - 10 minutes

1. Take a look at this presentation on 'death by PowerPoint': Death by PowerPoint

2. Think about the story which runs through this presentation?

3. Browse the the Slideshare site: Slideshare.net

4. Take a look at some of the presentations on the site. You can search for a topic you're interested in, or look at some of the featured presentations. See if you can find a story running through the presentations you view.

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