Use stories in idea presentations to shift your decision maker’s focus from risks to rewards.

February 23, 2017 - 10:38 am

“People change their minds all the time, even about very important matters. It’s just hard to do when the stakes are high. That’s why marshaling data and making rational arguments won’t work. Whether you’re changing your own mind or someone else’s, the key is emotional, persuasive storytelling.” Maggie Koerth-Baker, science journalist

When scanning grocery shelves for dog food, I use reasoning to compare ingredients and prices. But, I have to admit, those photos of chunky beef stew and buttered salmon fillets on the packages often nab me. The images create stories in my head about how delighted our dogs will be when they see their bowls filled with my glorious selections — even though the brown stuff inside the bags actually looks nothing like those photographs.

Here’s the thing: buying decisions typically involve both reason and emotion. Buyers may assume they are using reason alone to determine the value of a product or idea, but emotion tells them what to value.

This is important to remember when presenting ideas — because if your decision makers focus on reasoning to determine an idea’s value, they tend to look only at potential risks. With that mindset, it’s easy for them to veer toward possible problems rather than potential success. Consequently, they’ll find fewer risks in killing the idea than in approving the idea.

But if you include persuasive stories and examples in presentations, you add emotion to the equation. And these emotion-inducing stories help shift focus to your idea’s value in solving a problem rather than your idea’s risk of causing a problem.

Tell vivid stories and paint mental pictures of how your idea will live and breathe in the real world. Let compelling examples clearly demonstrate how rewards outweigh risks.

Facts and figures can connect with your decision makers’ heads — but stories and examples will capture their hearts.

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