I remember getting to the end of the movie – Planet of the Apes wondering, what did I just watch? I couldn’t understand how Leo returned to Earth only to realize it had been taken over by Thade. Don’t get me wrong, I love a cliffhanger as much as the next guy but this ending only confused me – did the apes return before him or he entered a parallel universe or was it all a mistake? And, nope I usually get movies, so that isn’t it either.

Whenever you stand up to speak, this is definitely not the feeling you want to leave your audience with at the end of your story. You want them to exit with

  1. A clear memory of what you told them
  2. A call to action (moral) from your story

Making your story memorable

To make your presentation memorable, you need to connect with people in more than just the logical plane. Your story should appeal to their emotions and as you hook them, don’t fail to reel them in. So, how do you make the story more memorable, let’s take a look at two scenario’s

  1. Frank walks into a music store to have a look around. He has been thinking about learning how to play the piano and this seemed the moment to play with one. Walking up to him, the salesman takes him to a beautiful grand piano. The salesman rattles off the specs of this piano – polished surface, with 88 Ivorite keys and Noncontact continuous detection optical sensor. He spends the next 5 minutes churning out numbers and big words to describe the piano.
  2. Frank walks into a music shop. Having just made his first big sale, with a hefty commission cheque burning a hole in his wallet, he decides to spoil himself a bit. Having been dreaming of learning how to play a piano, this seemed the perfect opportunity. The salesman walks up to Frank and leads him to an antique looking piece and explains to him that this is the piano which Mozart wrote some of his best pieces. However, this piano had been stolen and assumed destroyed, but recently in a small village of Austria, it was discovered when the owner died. And, this discovery led to it being auctioned off to a museum but today, the museum has decided to put it up for sale.

Even without finishing the story, which version is more convincing? To make your story memorable, don’t forget to introduce a protagonist, who goes through a struggle and eventually rises above it all. Key to your call to action is how he rose above the conflict.

The Moral of your story

Is it clear for you how you would like the people to respond after listening to your presentation? Or to ask it in other words, what if they tell you – thanks for the presentation, what can we do now?

The moral of your story or the call to action is the audience’s response after you have successfully convinced them. A friend of mine refers to it as the 3 am statement. In the above example, the salesman simply wanted to get Frank interested in the piano and thereby make a sale. So he uses a story to make him see the value of this particular piano. Even Frank as he sits down behind this piano will believe he feels the creative juices flowing through him from the fingers of Mozart himself.

So as you prepare to deliver a presentation, make the story count. As you get the attention of your audience, give them a memorable story and make sure the moral is clear. A cliff-hanger is nice, if you are certain of a well-planned follow-up, however, it can also throw people off. So bring the story to a close and get people to go out and (just like I tell you now), do it.