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Use Storytelling In Presentations

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Summarize the three steps for incorporating storytelling strategies into presentations.
  • List the key questions you should ask when preparing for a presentation.
  • Identify the elements of a basic presentation structure.
  • Describe ways to add visual appeal to a presentation.
  • Recognize storytelling strategies in action.

Present Like a Pro with Storytelling Strategies

When you give a presentation, you want to captivate your audience. Today, captivate means to, “influence and dominate by some special charm, art, or trait and with an irresistible appeal” (thank you, Merriam-Webster). But the word captivate has an older meaning, which is to “seize” or “capture.”

You certainly don’t want your audience to feel like they’re being held against their will during your presentation. What you do want to do is capture their attention and their imagination by incorporating storytelling strategies. 

A man giving a presentation in front of an engaged audience

This is a cinch if you follow these three easy steps:

  • Step 1: Do some presentation preparation.
  • Step 2: Build a simple structure.
  • Step 3: Add some visual appeal.

Let’s walk through each step.

Step 1: Do Some Presentation Preparation

Before you start your presentation, you need to answer a few key questions: 

  • Who is my primary audience?
  • What do I want my audience to know?
  • What do I want my audience to feel?
  • What do I want my audience to do?

Answering these questions will help get to the heart of the story and determine how to connect with your audience. From there, you can start to create a high-level structure for your presentation.

Step 2: Build a Simple Structure

Your presentation’s structure doesn’t need to be complicated. You just need the following:

  • An introduction
  • Talking points
  • A conclusion

Here’s a brief explanation of each part of the structure. 

What It Is What You Do


Welcome your audience, introduce yourself, share an anecdote to break the ice, and provide a high-level overview of what you’ll be presenting.

Talking Points (typically at least three)

Walk through the key information you want the audience to know, including facts and figures, case studies, challenges, etc.


Summarize your talking points and outline next steps and any calls to action.  

This framework creates a very basic story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending that the audience can recognize and navigate easily. 

Step 3: Add Some Visual Appeal

When you add infographics, photos, timelines, colors, themes, and formatting to your presentation, you tell a visual story that helps support your talking points and brings your presentation to life.  

Here are a few ways to create visual appeal in your presentations:

  • Keep it organized. Use the structure you built in Step 2 to guide you as you create your slides. Incorporate formatting elements such as bulleted or numbered lists to break out key points.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t overload your slides with content. There’s no need to present everything you say; include only a few bullets per slide. If your presentation is in Google Slides, reserve your more detailed explanations for the “Speaker Notes.” Avoid using complex animations or transitions that might distract your audience.
  • Keep it legible. When it comes to text and images, bigger is generally better. Use at least a 24-point font and make sure there is enough contrast—people usually find it easier to read dark text on a light background.

Now let’s meet Jasmine, a people leader, and see how she uses these steps and strategies to create a captivating presentation.

See Storytelling Strategies in Action

Jasmine is a people leader who wants to bring her team together for an annual review. She intends to share what they’ve all accomplished and to present the team’s project plan for the upcoming year.

Jasmine could put her team’s accomplishments and her future plan on a few slides and just wing the presentation. But this might result in a disorganized mess that doesn’t do her team justice. Or, she could present her points using statistics and detailed charts and graphs. This would be informative—but dull. Jasmine instead decides to use storytelling strategies to turn the facts and figures from the past year and her future planning into a lively and engaging story.

Jasmine thinking about putting storytelling elements into her presentation

To prepare for her presentation, Jasmine first answers those four key questions: 

Question Jasmine’s Answer

Who is my primary audience? 

My audience is my team of eight creative professionals. Some of my direct reports are new to my team, while others are more tenured and have more experience than I do.

What do I want my audience to know? 

I want each team member to understand how they’ve contributed to our organization’s success. I want newer team members to see what the team produced in the past year so that they can quickly come up to speed. Finally, because the year is coming to a close, I want my team to see which projects they’ll be working on in the next year.

What do I want my audience to feel? 

I want my team to feel proud of what they’ve accomplished and to be excited for and optimistic about the projects to come. 

What do I want my audience to do?

I want my team to celebrate—and continue—their excellent performance and to develop a success plan for the projects that lie ahead. 

Jasmine digs a bit deeper into her team’s story by asking herself questions such as:

  • What specific events or accomplishments defined us as a team?
  • What achievements were turning points for individuals on the team?
  • When was our team strongest?
  • When was our team weakest?
  • How do I see us all growing and evolving together?

Jasmine uses the answers to these questions to outline her basic presentation structure. adding details as she goes. She also includes the amount of time she’ll spend on each element of the hour-long presentation and visual elements that support her talking points. Take a look:

What It Is How Long It Takes What Jasmine Does


10 min.

In this portion of the presentation, Jasmine: 

  • Welcomes the team.
  • Breaks the ice by sharing a few anecdotes and photos from the last team outing.
  • States the objectives of the presentation.

Talking Point #1

15 min.

In this portion of the presentation, Jasmine:

  • Details the team’s accomplishments from the past year.
  • Supports her talking point with a line graph of the team’s performance.
  • Highlights each team members’ contribution to the team’s success.

Talking Point #2

10 min.

In this portion of the presentation, Jasmine:

  • Expands on the obstacles the team overcame during the past year.
  • Supports her talking point with a graphic that shows challenges/solutions.
  • Summarizes the lessons she learned as a people leader and how she plans to incorporate those lessons in future planning.

Talking Point #3

15 min.

In this portion of the presentation, Jasmine:

  • Describes the team’s upcoming projects and their value to the business.
  • Describes her vision for the team roles and responsibilities.
  • Supports her talking point with a graphic that shows the project plans and timelines for the year.


10 min.

In this portion of the presentation, Jasmine:

  • Briefly recaps her three talking points.
  • Opens the floor for questions.
  • Closes the meeting by summarizing next steps and action items.

Jasmine’s presentation is so much more than just the team’s annual review—by using storytelling strategies, she creates an engaging narrative of where her team has been and where they are going. 

As you’ve learned, storytelling is a great way to communicate and connect with your team—and a vital part of our culture at Salesforce. So, sharpen those storytelling skills and get out there and share!  


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