The second page of a business presentation is most likely the agenda page, and they all look the same: we will summarize what we are going to say, then we go through the story, and then we will summarize it again.

The rule “tell’ m what you’re gong to tell, tell ’m, and tell ’m what you just told them” is often quoted as a good structure for a presentation.

There is one place where repetition is used to force people to remember things: education. We pound, and pound, and pound, on the brains of children reluctant to absorb new facts until the brain “snaps” and finally gives up the resistance.

As a result, content is remembered, but not for long. The day after the test, it already starts to fade away. If we have to hammer in the messages into the minds of our audience, we have not got our story straight.

Stories are a much more powerful way to make people remember things. People love stories. Take for example this very short one:

“For sale, baby shoes, never worn.” 

It is the shortest story that Ernest Hemingway has ever written (and he claims that it is his favorite). Upon reading this story, your mind lights up. It is curious what happened to the baby. It starts to fill in the missing blanks.

The brain needs a framework in wich to put a story. Stories are great frameworks, and so are physical locations. Our mind is spatial.

We have all been in brainstorm sessions where the white board looks like a complete mess after an hour of discussion. If you take a picture of it using your cell phone camera, and look back 3 weeks later, there is a good chance that you can almost remember the entire debate minute-by-minute. Not because the writing on the picture is so clear, but because your brain has allocated a location on the board to store all memories form a particular fragment of the discussion. 

Consider yourself a movie director when designing a presentation. The director has the option to tell the story chronologically, but she rarely uses it. Instead, we have flash backs, flash forwards, slowdowns, different camera angels.

The logical structure of your story is the chronological script. You used it to solve a business problem, you used it to check that you have all the facts in place, covered every angle. That logical structure is not the end of your presentation design, it is the beginning: now translate that logic into a captivating story that people will remember.

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