• Written by Maaike van der Velden
    19 May 2016

Source: Modman

As part of our staff talent development programme we have started a series of workshops that will run throughout 2016. Tuesday May 10th, we organised a workshop called Powerful Storytelling. Seventeen Akvonauts joined the workshop, most of them in Amsterdam. But there were some heroes who joined the session online, some stayed up late or woke up very early.

During the workshop I shared tips and tricks, but I think we learned mostly from each other’s stage performances. There were very creative presentations prepared. I hope that all of our colleagues on Skype picked up most of it. For the next session, I want to come up with a better solution for participants online if possible.

workshop 2

Above: Maaike van der Velden presenting on speaking with impact.

In this post you will find the recordings of the workshop as well as the slides. The most important topics of the workshop were:

  • The dynamic on stage: when you are on stage or give a presentation, an extra dimension and energy occurs. You need to deal with this energy. Some people do this very easily and even play with the energy between themselves and the public. Some people find the energy overwhelming and don’t like to be on stage.
  • Be aware of this energy: make contact with your own space, breathing and positioning yourself on stage can help you to give an outstanding performance. Always be on time, and do a little exercise like controlling your breath and imagine a glass dome around you.
  • Keep your story simple and short: select the most relevant information you want to share. The attention span of your public is not that long.
  • Make it sensory: if you want to explain something to the public, make sure you bring in other human senses like sight, touch, hearing, smell and taste. Your public will easily imagine the experience or the point you want to make. They will remember your story better.
  • Practice body language: use it to emphasise things, but don’t overdo it. It will distract. You can ask feedback from colleagues or peers about your body language. Notice that habitual repetitive movements are very hard to change and diminish. So pick your battles.
  • At the start of your story, you could:
    • Use an interesting prop, a metaphor of your story
    • Do something awkward, just like Joris Luyendijk does in this presentation
    • Tell a personal story
    • Involve the public, for example, ask a question of your audience
  • Structuring pitches
    • Start – get the attention
    • Situation: what is the situation?
    • Problem(s) (max 3 issues)
    • Provocative statement or question, like: “Wouldn’t it be nice if..?”
    • Solution (max 3) with positive effects/results (max 3)
    • Final statement
  • If you link the problems directly with the solutions and effects, you will make your storyline even stronger.
  • You can use the narrative structure of a pitch also for a longer presentation, blogs or even during an introduction at a network event.

It is always good to prepare well and, if possible, ask feedback from colleagues. If you would like to have professional guidance on presentation skills, I can connect you with several coaches.

Maaike van der Velden is the Talent/HR manager for Akvo. She is based in Amsterdam. Follow her @MaaikeVelden.