The Art of Storytelling – Your Big Idea

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Storytelling - Big IdeaWhile I’m big into fitness and staying healthy, I’m also a big fan of eating – unhealthy eating to be exact. One of my favorite foods is pizza. I had it as two of my meals yesterday, and I’m not kidding.

With pizza (or chinese food, ice cream, or whatever your food vice may be) the first few bites are delicious. The taste is exactly what I’ve been craving and I am in heaven. After a few minutes of eating my stomach begins to fill up. I start to slow down and gauge how much is left vs. how hungry I am. Eventually I can’t fit any more food in there and my body reacts by progressively making me feel worse and worse (fuller and fuller). By this time I can’t even look at the the pizza anymore.

It’s the Law of Diminishing Returns, and it basically means you can have too much of a good thing, or anything for that matter. When it comes to presentations, it’s no different.

As Nancy Duarte says in her most recent book, Resonate:

Most presentations suffer from too many ideas, not too few.

When we present, we’re trying to convey our ideas, our passion, and our story. We have tons of ideas, and rarely (if ever) enough time to convey all the ideas we wish we could. However too many presentations try to reach this unlikely goal, ultimately inundating the audience with so much information that they leave the presentation completely confused as to what the point of it all was. It’s overwhelming and incredibly ineffective.

Crafting Your Big Idea

We use stories to bring our audiences on a journey, but each journey must have a specific destination. Craft your stories, and ultimately your presentation, with a clear, single, BIG IDEA in mind. Ensure that it articulates your unique point of view and conveys what’s at stake. Once you define your idea, every aspect of your presentation should support it. Eliminate any extraneous information. Remember, it’s not how much you put in but what you leave out that makes all the difference.

What’s my big idea?

In order to succeed as a presenter, you must be a storyteller because great stories spread, and those who tell the best stories win.

This post is part of a series of posts addressing the Art of Storytelling, which I’ll be presenting at Hook: The Presentation Conference in March.

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