Use these storytelling techniques to create killer product presentations

This story has also been published on Medium.

I have spent countless hours breezing through novels. The evolving plot has consumed too many hours of my sleep. It is almost as if I am scared to abandon my novel from the fear the plot will move without me. True story, this is how I got my spectacles. By reading Harry Potter in my night lamps after my mom switched off my lights assured that I would switch to slumber. But, I have also spent countless hours sitting through presentations. The ones face-to-face I attend, a cellphone often becomes my savior. Online presentations are easier to dodge when once my video is switched off. So what is the difference between an exciting Novel and a presentation? A Novel is seldom associated with exciting, as much a presentation boring. Does it have to be this way? Do presentations have to be boring? As a Product Manager, I do spend considerable hours creating presentations. It almost feels like a duty to do right by the audience who are giving me their precious moments of attention.

As Product Managers, we give countless presentations. We present to stakeholders our exciting new features. We convince our leadership that our Roadmap is well thought of. We present to our teams to introduce them to our ideas. We present to customers to judge their reactions to upcoming features. The presentation we give must resonate with them. More importantly, successfully communicate the key messages we intend them to take away. A story is without a doubt more engaging than a bunch of randomly thrown facts, figures, and words thrown on a blank slide. A story is exciting, has a plot, involves twists and turns, and is more importantly effortless to consume. Let’s take a leaf out of the book, or borrow the entire book from Novelists and see how we can use it to build up our product presentations. Here are five inspirations that will help you build a better storyline. Each of the styles works well independently or in an interwoven fashion.

Add a Hero to your story

Not a persona, a person

This style works great to introduce your product to new folks. It works as well with stakeholders unfamiliar with your product line, or anybody who is not fighting in the trenches with you. The key to capitalizing this form is to make the audience feel this person you are describing. Taking inspiration from Anton Chekhov,

A creator shall not tell the audience what to feel but create the scenario to make them feel so.

Make the audience feel themselves in the shoe of your hero. You want your audience to empathize with the hero. To laugh when the hero laughs and to understand her pain and problems. Let them create a first-person perspective for themselves.

As the clock struck 8.30 am, she started panicking. Her first meeting started at 9, and there was a mountain of unwashed utensils still in her sink. Her kid’s unfinished breakfast still scattered the dining table. Even if she left now, 10 minutes to hail a cab (if she got lucky), then 20 minutes ride. This was going to be a close call.

So many words are not the only way to make the audience feel. You can use a combination of illustrations, videos, basically whatever works best with your audience.

Take the Audience through the user journey and key in your Product concepts

Interweave your solutions into user problems

The 7-point story structure, a commonly used storytelling technique often used in Novels can be translated very easily to Product presentations. This approach especially works well in scenarios where you need to explain the multiple features that your innovative Product has to offer. You drop the audience in the middle of the timeline and begin telling a story. A story that makes your audience put themselves in someone else’s shoes. Every one of the audience begins to feel the extent of the user’s pain points. And it is then that you subtly or not-so-subtly drop your solution.