Do you want to make a presentation or tell a story?
Not all information need to be storified – it’s useful to be clear at the beginning about what we are going to do and why.
In a presentation the focus is on presenting information. Brevity and clarity are the main goals. We all know that people’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter, so you might want to deliver your information in three or four steps. It’s important that your audience understands what you’re telling them. Sometimes using a couple of storytelling principles can help make your presentation more memorable, like giving a visual example. When a doctor explains the procedure of the surgery she’s recommending she’s likely to follow this format.
When you tell a story, your first priority is not necessarily that your audience understands the facts: you want them to experience a change, an event, an insight. You want them to experience how it feels. You want them to come to their own conclusions. You’re looking for an emotional connection. Telling a story is a bit scarier than making a presentation because you aren’t totally in control of how it’s affecting those who are listening. You’re inviting people to experience something, and their responses can vary. For some people the story might be about growing up, for others it’s about change, and for a third group it’s about loss. There may be different interpretations until you figure it out how to tell a story that more and more talk about what the main message is. That’s why storytelling is a process.
In a presentation we can measure its success by asking our audience whether they’ve understood the message. We want to hear “It was clear. I’ve got it now.” Did your patient understood the main steps of the operation she’ll be having?
When you tell a story you’re expecting to hear “That reminds me of when…” or “I felt connected to what you were saying…” or “It made me feel…” or “Now I see….” Following the example of the patient, is she feeling confident about the operation? Does your story address how she feels about the operation? Is she now ready to agree?
Our main mistake is that we assume that because we understand something we’re OK with it.
Even if I understand the medical intervention that I’m about to have I may still have plenty of emotions and doubts that the explanation of how things will be on the day of the operation haven’t addressed at all.
The first and most relevant question that you need to address before you start thinking about how you’re going to communicate your message is what you want your audience to think or feel when you’ve finished.