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Refuse to Present (But Tell a Good Story)

A c-suite executive walks into a ballroom with a duck under each arm.

Alright, he didn’t actually carry ducks to the stage. What he DID bring was the opportunity – and the responsibility — to connect with his audience, while inspiring confidence and influencing behavior.

When the executive got to the podium, he refused to give a presentation.

He did tell a story, though. And around his company, the success of his speech is the stuff of legend, to this very day.

So what went right?

This particular executive was speaking to over 5,000 franchisees, who made more than a small investment in the company.

His objectives were to demonstrate a deep understanding of their day-to-day business challenges, while providing vision and leadership. He needed to inform them of best practices, inspire action, and reinforce the company’s commitment to each franchisee’s success.

This isn’t where I tell you how the executive added engaging anecdotes and relevant stories to his presentation. He didn’t. And he didn’t have to.

Because his entire presentation was the story.

From beginning to end, his words took everyone on a journey. His story was personal. And funny. And full of dramatic twists. It was conversational and relatable, calling out a number of audience members along the way.

His story flowed with details that sparked the imagination, and had everyone recognizing the value of well-executed company best practices.

When he was done, his objectives for the meeting were met. In the year ahead, the Franchisees remained energized and engaged. Best practices improved at locations coast-to-coast. Customer satisfaction scores increased. And sales soon followed.

When the time comes for you to make your presentation, don’t do it. Tell your story instead.

Bernie Garzia

Senior Writer / Chief Creative Strategist
ADM Productions

Bernie has been a business communications strategist for over 35 years – the last 15 years with ADM Productions.

He began his career writing and producing for both broadcast and cable television (Sesame Street, NICKELODEON), moving into the corporate arena
in the mid-1980s.

Bernie has written award-winning video, multi-media and web content; and has written or edited remarks for hundreds of corporate, broadcast and non-broadcast events. 

A partial list of speakers he’s written for includes: Lee Iacocca, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the US Secretary of the Interior, Barbara Walters, Jane Hanson, Judd Hirsch, and top executives for Abbott, Alcon, American Express, Canon, Dunkin’, Goodyear, Guardian Life, Sam’s Club, Travel Leaders Group, True Value, NCR, and Walmart.

In his “other” life, Bernie is an award-winning playwright.  He co-wrote the book and lyrics for the Off-Broadway musical The Prince and the Pauper, and contributed lyrics to A Christmas Survival Guide – both published by Sam French.