Microsoft announced an “artificial intelligence” capable of designing slide templates based on brand identities, coaching users on the pace of their presentation, and even warning them if they fall into the trap of simply reading their slides word-for-word to the audience. (I’m hoping Clippy pops up during the presentation and says, “Looks like you’re boring the audience to death! Would you like some help?”)
Speaking of PowerPoint, this article nails the top three reasons most presentations suck. Note that only one of the points (“You don’t put in the time to make simple slides”) has anything to do with design; two of the three reasons have roots in empathy for your audience! To these three, I’d add a fourth: your presentation sucks because it lacks the elements of a great story: a relatable main character, a tension that needs resolving, a three-part narrative, and a satisfying conclusion. (That’s also why movies like Dark Phoenix and Men in Black International suck, by the way.)
A program is encouraging inmates to reconnect with their kids by writing letters and sending their kids good books. The fact that these narratives can help close the gap between the incarcerated and their loved ones makes for a moving testimony to the power of story.
Flexing — a dance style that contorts bodies into living origami — is providing a kinetic medium for suppressed and overlooked stories. Creator Reggie Gray: “There are ways of conveying a message when you dance. A lot of the time it can be pure entertainment, but flexing is a mode of storytelling. It’s a lot more than just entertainment or a wow factor: it’s a vocabulary, a means of expression for those who previously had none.”
These simple classroom exercises use sensory stimuli (a story, a scent, a quiet walk) to stir memories and inspire stories.
It’s not what you think! This storytelling workshop is encouraging storytellers to come up with a ten-minute traditional narrative (a beginning, a middle where something changes, and an ending that brings resolution) about their first time to try something new. This would be a great idea to put to work in a corporate organizational development program. What if, instead of launching a dry series of lectures on leadership competencies, you invited employees to a series of storytelling sessions featuring company leaders speaking honestly about what they learned from facing off with new challenges?
Photo: Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash