4 Elements of storytelling that will bring your presentation to life

Aimee Rivers Feb 1, 2022 1:56:16 PM

Half the challenge in becoming a skilled storyteller is in finding a story that is worth telling. 

When I was first tasked with creating business presentations, I found it difficult to transform seemingly mundane material into something mesmerizing, meaningful, and memorable. Even then, experts were praising the effectiveness of storytelling, but I was a bit lost. How was I supposed to ‘get personal’ when I was branding ketchup? How did I create drama when introducing a new company policy? How did I pull heartstrings when sharing budget numbers?

My “aha” moment came when I started to see the correlation between the key parts of a business presentation and the basic building blocks of storytelling. In seeing these parallels, I was able to unearth the story lurking just beneath the surface of my business priorities and use it to bring my presentations to life.

Find your story by considering how these 4 elements of storytelling relate to your business presentation: 

1. Establish context 

What are the circumstances surrounding the current situation? What has happened before? Why are you giving this presentation? These details provide a foundation to support your story and shape its meaning. It’s the background information that sheds a light on why the information or idea you are presenting is important. Use context to give your audience a reason to listen. 

2. Focus on characters

Who does your presentation concern? Who will be affected by what happens? What part does the audience play? Answer these questions to find the characters of your story. Characters not only create focus, but they also provide someone to care about and believe in. They make stories relatable and help establish an emotional connection. Remember people invest in people. 

3. Create conflict

What is the challenge? What obstacles stand in the way? What is at stake? Conflict is the struggle between opposing forces. It’s the problem that needs to be solved. The situation that needs a solution. The change that needs to be made. Lying at the heart of every story, conflict adds drama that keeps things interesting. 

4. Deliver a resolution

What is your proposed solution? How does it work? What will be the results? A story concludes with a problem being solved, conflicts being resolved and change occurring. Beyond sharing the solution, you will want to give your audience a vision of what transpires thereafter – the benefits it brings, the opportunity it presents, and the possibilities it uncovers. 

Now that you have a story to tell, it’s time to get started. In my next post for Sparkol’s first Expert Blog Series, Let Your Voice Be Heard: Storytelling for Business, I’ll give you some practical tips that will help you hook your audience’s attention from the very beginning. 

Start Strong will be published on Tuesday, July 17th 2018. If you would like to receive this series straight to your email inbox, please subscribe here.

To read previous posts in this series, please visit:


Aimee Rivers is the founder of Plumage, a communications consultancy that helps creative companies tell their stories in an authentic way that thrills their clients and supports their business goals. Originally from Los Angeles, she is now based in the UK.