I’m on a quest to learn more about potent presentations.

I started by interviewing my husband, a non-evaluator who’s attended dozens and dozens of required trainings for his government job. I wanted to hear more about the best and worst trainings he’s attended and see whether the presentation skills needed for these trainings might transfer to presentations in the evaluation field.

“A lot of it has to do with whether or not you’re a good storyteller,” he began. “You know what I mean?” (Well, pretty much, but this is an interview after all, and I was trying hard not to jump to conclusions.) “Kind of… but tell me more,” I requested.

Some of the trainers were so dynamic that he could remember key details from their presentations years and years and years later. So what made these trainings “stick?” How are great storytellers similar to great presenters?

  • The storyteller/presenter doesn’t  jump around too much or rush through the “plot” too fast. Instead, the speaker stays on one topic just long enough for people to understand what they’re saying.
  • The speaker includes all the key details. Sometimes the best stories are ruined because the speaker forgot to mention a key detail in the very beginning of his or her presentation. “Just like you’re telling a long joke,” my husband explained. “You’ve got to remember all those little steps in the beginning of the joke or else you’ll ruin the punchline at the end.”
  • Great storytellers and presenters can describe a process.
  • The speaker can build some drama or suspense.
  • They’re descriptive and use plenty of details.
  • The speaker “paints a picture” for the audience and “takes the audience back to a specific moment so they can really feel that moment.”
  • They enjoy “the art of conversation.”

And why is great storytelling a central skill in giving great presentations and trainings? “When you’re having a good time, your brain’s more open to learning,” my husband explained. “Your brain feels stimulated, you want to learn even more, and you’re going to remember the information forever.”

Do you have ideas about what makes a great presentation? Please share your feedback below.

Thanks, Ann Emery