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The 5 C’s of Storytelling: A Follow-up



by Bob Goodyear

I just came back from a sales conference where I had the opportunity to train technical sales teams on various soft skills.  One of the techniques that was taught was the 5 C’s of storytelling, that I’ve written about previously.  After the sessions were over, I had several attendees talk to me.  The most common question I heard was “When do I tell a story in a technical presentation?”

The “traditional” technical sales presentation is considered to be a “data dump” and the expectations are generally very low for  it to be engaging.  While adding a story would help the audience become more interested in the topic, there is an unstated assumption that doing so makes the technical presenter lose credibility because it might be perceived as trivializing the topic.  Nothing could be further from the truth!  It’s becoming more apparent that technologists MUST tell a story in order to be listened to.

In the book titled The Storyteller’s Secret: From TED Speakers to Business Legends, Why Some Ideas Catch On and Other Don’t, the author, Carmine Gallo, says the following:

“Technologists and scientists no longer talk to just their peers.  If they can’t explain the benefits of their products to consumers, their ideas won’t catch on. They must translate the language of bits and bytes into a story every consumer understands.”

Technical presenters MUST learn to tell stories in their presentations.  One way to add a simple story is to add an analogy of something that relates to the technical concept being discussed.  Another is to use a customer story to illustrate the value of a product or feature.  Using the 5 C’s to construct such a story will make it stand out and also make it easy to tell.

As I answered my session attendees, a story is ALWAYS appropriate anywhere in a technical presentation.  Use a story in the beginning of the presentation as an opening to gain attention.  Use stories in the middle to illustrate your next point.  Use a story as a closing instead of the traditional “Do you have any questions?” remark.  Use the 5 C’s structure and your stories will be interesting and will allow your audience to be engaged with you and your topic.

Bob Goodyear is a veteran speaker on technology who understands the communications challenges that technical professionals face. Find out how Bob can help your organization with
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Reach Bob by email or by phone at 678.447.7272