When it’s time to meet with executives in your company, do you find you’ve got too much information for the short amount of time they’ve given you?
Do you get questions that derail your presentation and leave you wondering what they really wanted?
Do you wonder what you could do differently so you could meet the needs of your executives and accomplish your own goals?
Andrew Abela teaches a method to communicate successfully when you need to “convince a small number of people to make a specific decision and to take a particular action.”
In his ebook The Presentation: A Story About Communicating Successfully with Very Few Slides, Abela explains how to use only a few slides to tell a story of conflict and resolution to persuade your audience.
If you ever have to meet with executives, Abela’s ebook is worth studying. He will show you how to tell your analytics story. Here are some of the main points.
Objectives, problem and solution, evidence
What are your objectives? What is the audience problem and your solution? What is the evidence?
Start planning your presentation by deciding on your objectives. Ask yourself what you want your audience to do.
A tool to clarify your objectives is the From-To, Think-Do matrix. This matrix will help you describe exactly how you want the audience’s “thinking” and “doing” to change.
Once you know your objectives, then ask yourself “Why are they going to listen to what I have to say?”
The answer? You make it clear that “you are going to solve an important problem for them in this presentation.” You raise an issue that is vital to your audience and you provide a solution that you can deliver.
Of course, simply making a bold statement that gets their attention is not enough. You have to back it up. You have to provide evidence.
Thus, the structure for your presentation is objectives, problem and solution, evidence.
Use S.Co.R.E to sequence your presentation
How do you turn your structure into a compelling story, one they’ll listen to from start to finish?
Turn your entire presentation into a story. Sequence your presentation content into the form of a story.
Like all stories, yours will proceed “by creating and then resolving tension. That’s how stories keep you interested.”
Think about movies that keep your interest. They tell a story that is a series of tensions created and resolved.
In Hitchcock’s North by Northwest:
Roger Thornhill (Cary Grant) is kidnapped, then forced to drink bourbon in an attempt to stage a fatal road accident.
Thornill escapes but is so drunk he nearly wrecks the car he is driving.
Then he is arrested, but his mother pays his bail.
He is nearly kidnapped again, escapes, goes to the UN where it appears that he has killed Lester Townsend with a knife.
All this in the first twenty minutes! The film continues in this fashion, creating and resolving tension every step of the way.
To tell your analytics story, use Abela’s S.Co.R.E method:
- Describe the Situation in neutral terms, a brief “why we are here.”
- The first Complication is the business problem they have.
- The first Resolution is your solution to that problem.
- The Example brings the solution down from generalities to specifics. It gives the audience a “flavor of the reality you are going to be sharing with them.”
The next Complication is how you are going to do what you say. Each ensuing complication needs to be the next likely objection that the audience is likely to have. The role of the complication is “to keep raising an important question in their mind, which you answer for them.”
Storytelling and the battle at Agincourt
This method of sequencing a story to persuade, of introducing complication followed by resolution, is a universal method for moving an audience to action.
Remember Kenneth Branagh’s “St. Crispin’s Day” speech in Shakespeare’s Henry V? King Henry and his small army are about to go into battle at Agincourt with the much larger and well-armed French army. They are exhausted from their march across France. Henry rallies them to battle with this sequence:
Complication: Some of you say we are too few.
Resolution: I say, “the fewer men, the greater share of honor.”
Complication: Some of you may have no stomach for this fight.
Resolution: Let those of you who feel this way depart. I will give you money and your passport back to England.
Complication: (An unspoken worry that many will die in the battle.)
Resolution: He who survives this day (St. Crispins) will stand proud every year on Saint Crispin’s Day. “This story will a good man teach his son.”
Complication: You may be a vile or a crude person.
Resolution: But he who sheds his blood with me today will be my brother, a brother to a king.