Often, a meeting lives or dies by the quality of its presenters.
"How many presentations have you sat through where slide after slide was packed with text and gaudy graphics; where the presenter was droning on, reading directly off slides?" asks Successful Meetings contributor Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Inc. and author of Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations.
According to Duarte, a good meeting hinges on good presentations, and good presentations hinge on good stories. Whether you're a meeting planner introducing a speaker, or the speaker himself, the best way to captivate an audience, therefore, is with a compelling narrative.
So, what makes a good story? "After studying hundreds of historic speeches, I discovered that the backbone of great talks is a 'What Is'/'What Could Be' framework," Duarte says. "For example, [Steve Jobs'] 2007 iPhone presentation begins with him talking about the way technology is today before he then launches into what it could be and how the new iPhone ushers in this new era."
The secret ingredient, it seems, is contrast. "Great stories contain contrast, created through cycles of tension and release that keep an audience on the edge of their seats, fluctuating from struggle to bliss and back," Duarte concludes.