Story Power in Presentations

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Our brains like stories. That’s not a new theme here at Neuromarketing, but now there’s biometric evidence that supports what the best speakers already know: telling a story keeps the audience engaged.

In Avoiding Death by Powerpoint, the Neuro Way, I described how at a recent advertising conference a portion of the attendees were fitted up with special belts around their ribs to allow real-time monitoring of multiple biometric measures. This data was used to estimate the engagement level of the audience during each presentation. According to the analysis by Innerscope Research, one of the key strategies of the most engaging speakers was to TELL A STORY. The two presentations rated the most engaging both told stories:

– Mr. Moorhead describing how Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign led to an actual marriage proposal that was accepted.

– Mr. D’Arcy sharing inspiring anecdotes that the audience found personally relevant, such as how “creativity won” when media fragmentation and changes in the industry launched a “quest to find answers” that was “led by brave marketers.”

According to Dr. Carl Marci, CEO and Chief Scientist for Innerscope Research, noted, “Great stories told well, engaging videos, and simple take-home messages consistently increased the audience’s emotional engagement during presentations.”

I found countless references to support the story strategy, including:

So, even if telling a story to make your presentation or speech more engaging isn’t breaking news, it’s good to know that strategy is confirmed by biometric data gathered from real presentations.

By |December 22nd, 2010|

About the Author:

Roger Dooley is the author of Brainfluence: 100 Ways to Persuade and Convince Consumers with Neuromarketing (Wiley). He is the primary author at Neuromarketing, and writes at Entrepreneur and Forbes. Learn more at RogerDooley.com, and follow him on Twitter at @rogerdooley.


  1. David Lee
    Twitter: HumanNatureWork
    December 22, 2010 at 11:25 am - Reply

    Fantastic post Roger! Thanks for sharing important research that has huge application for the world of business and communication.

    It’s another great example of how science can add credibility and “oh…so that’s how/why it works” insight to so called “soft skills”.

    Best regards,
    David Lee

  2. samuel arendt December 23, 2010 at 8:55 am - Reply

    É, parece que mais uma vez a igreja está na frente.

    Afinal 99% dos sermões é iniciado com um testemunho, uma história ou uma parábola.

    Entre outras coisas, como é citado no livro de Martin Linstron (Buyology).

  3. Pablo Edwards December 24, 2010 at 11:08 am - Reply

    In the post modern world we are driven by narrative and meta-narrative. The art of story telling has to be included in most, if not all, presentations.

  4. Victoria Zillioux December 29, 2010 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    I think this same theory applies to blogging. even if the message is about business, a good short story about how it applies or a personal experience not only makes the message clear, it encourages the reader to continue to the end. thanks for the good links in this post.

    • Roger Dooley
      Twitter: rogerdooley
      December 29, 2010 at 5:18 pm - Reply

      I couldn’t agree more, Victoria. Stories work in print, in spoken word, and online. I need to use more stories myself!


  5. Lisa Robbin Young
    Twitter: lisarobbinyoung
    January 18, 2011 at 1:25 pm - Reply

    One of the tools I use when I work with clients is the power of storytelling. We talk about “romancing” products, when in reality, all your’e doing is painting a story picture around the product. Facts don’t engage, they educate. We all need to be educated, but we WANT to be entertained. If we can be edutained, we like it even more and stay more consistently engaged.

    Great post!

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