Persuasion Requires More than Storytelling

Telling someone about “Little Red Ridinghood” is into the same as telling someone to invest in your start-up or next venture. Some skills are the same – such as public speaking rules. Others are different: building drama, suspense and character development may be fundamental to telling the first story. Understanding the complexity of the venture (e.g., the scientific foundation, the competitive advantage, the strategic tradeoff, the expertise of your team and the implications of the financial model), and presenting it in simple terms, in a persuasive manner, and one that your audience recall and reconstruct with potential other investors, is fundamental to the second feat.

Recently, James Currier wrote “The 23 Rules of Storytelling for Fundraising.” He raises many of the common issues. I thought I build upon a few to help you with your next presentation.

  • Keep it succinct and concise. Focus on the key points five plus or minus two) and keep them brief because people’s attention spans keep declining. Note: it will take you longer to create a short presentation than a long one. Mark Twain said: “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” So leaving in unnecessary “stuffing” may save you time when developing the presentation, but that reduces the persuasiveness of the presentation, which now takes too long to hear and may lead people on unnecessary tangents.
  • Create various versions so each is compelling. Remember, one audience may have 45 minutes to listen while another has only 10 minutes. Use simple concepts, models and analogies to speed up comprehension.
  • Plan it so the audience can easily provide a summary to their partners.  Use the basic rule of 3: tell them what you’re going to present (to provide a framework); deliver your content; and provide a concise (5 +/-2) summary – which becomes their overview guide for sharing the presentation).
  • If there’s Competition: Counterpunch. Spending time on the full competitive advantages (or lack of them) is key to eliminating audience Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD). This is expert power.
  • Provide clarity: Share case studies, personals and examples  so your audience understands who the ultimate customer will be; use clear graphs rather than tables to highlight points and demonstrate contrast. Both provide the drama that demonstrates your company’s superiority.

Follow these rules and you’re likely to feel more confident when you present – which adds to the persuasiveness!   Feel free to ask share your questions and suggestions.

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