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The Power of Storytelling

When was the last presentation you sat through that didn’t include PowerPoint? What about the last presentation you delivered? My guess is that you would probably have to be older than 45 to remember a time before PowerPoint existed. Why are presenters so dependent on this technology? Do they think it always leads to success?

Like many of you, I have sat through countless 50-slide PowerPoint presentations where the presenter, using a rather monotone voice, walked me through the material by reciting the slides that they were sharing with me. What the presenters don’t realize is that they have lost me within the first ten minutes.   My mind begins to wander and my thoughts turn to literally anything except for what is being shown on the screen. I think the overuse of PowerPoint has created an impersonal relationship with people sitting through these presentations.

How has this happened?  How have buyers and sellers become so disconnected in their approach to learning and communication?  My theory is that technology has overcomplicated way we interact with each other.  When PowerPoint came out, the theory behind the solution was that it would create a standard for the business world to communicate better using a visual medium.  In reality, PowerPoint has turned us into robots that depend on technology to get a message across.  We have all lost the ability to develop the storytelling skills that gives each of us a unique perspective, and our ability to use those skills to craft a powerful message.

After becoming increasingly frustrated with our sales team’s dependence on PowerPoint, I began to search for something better. What I found was an approach that has changed the way I think about business selling and interaction overall. Late last year I came across a book written by Michael Bosworth called “What Great Sales People Do”.  Bosworth’s approach was very simple – we all like to hear a great story.  Stories humanize us and allow us to create connections with other people.  After reading Bosworth’s book, I had the entire sales team read it as well. I’ve incorporated storytelling into our sales meetings, and run workshops to role play each other’s stories.   

I would like to be able to say that the impact of reading this book and the workshops had an immediate effect on the team and everyone ditched PowerPoint.  While that hasn’t happened yet, I have seen improvement across our team. We’re no longer leaning solely on PowerPoint to tell our story because it creates a gap as we try to build relationships with our customers.  

The next time you have an important meeting, or want to get your message across, don’t think about how to create a presentation, think about how to tell a story. What would you like to tell the buyer? How can you personalize your message? You’ll be pleased with the results.

Article written by Kirk Dauksavage, Chief Revenue Officer at Billtrust

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