Public Speaking Tips: Do Presentation Audiences Prefer Data Or Stories?

Storytelling is a creative and effective tool for creating an engaging presentation. But do stories work on all audiences? One contributing writer for Forbes argues that storytelling in presentation could hurt your career. Mark Murphy looked at the results of his presentation style quiz and discovered that while the majority of respondents agreed that stories were more persuasive than data; Murphy found that specific audience do find data to be more persuasive. Based on Murphy’s argument, here are public speaking tips you need to know when deciding on using stories or data in front of an audience.

Public Speaking Tips: Do Presentation Audiences Prefer Data Or Stories?

public speaking tips

According to the results the Leadership IQ quiz, there are groups that stories work better to persuade than data. These groups are: Human Resources, Marketing and Sales. On the other hand, there are three different groups that report finding data more persuasive than stories. Those groups are: Operations, Finance, and IT/Technology. This divides presentation audiences into two teams – Team Stories and Team Data. Apply these public speaking tips to help make your presentations impacted for each team.

Team Stories

It makes sense for Team Stories to have a stronger action to presentation storytelling. These groups tend to rely more on stories to perform their jobs. HR professionals tell company stories during their trainings. Marketing department invest teams into developing brand stories and engaging content. Sales teams win over customers with compelling and exciting product or service stories. Team Stories appreciate a good story when they hear one because their professional lives revolve around storytelling.

If you are giving a presentation to an audience made up of Team Stories, use these public speaking tips:

Create a story based around your audience’s needs.

Use a true story that is personal to you to be a more natural speaker.

Stories work best as an introduction to your presentation or woven throughout your speech.

Team Data

The groups that fall under Team Data know the difference between great research and data for data’s sake. Operations want to know the results of each company’s function. Finance needs to see updated numbers to measure success. The technology industry is based around trends and coding developments. Each of these groups in Team Data bring something special to the table. It’s important to not neglect their need for cold, hard (and impactful) numbers.

If you are giving a presentation to an audience made up of Team Data, use these public speaking tips:

Be creative with visuals to represent your figures, and stray away from too many charts and graphs.

Give your data more meaning by providing enough context to support your discoveries.

Highlight and review the major takeaways from each data heavy slide.

All presentation audiences have a preference over the type of content they want to consume. The best solution for Team Stories and Team Data is to include both in your presentation. Stories add creative flair and help make sense of complex ideas. Data drives home your stories with facts to support your decisions. When in doubt, bring something to the table that all audiences will understand and enjoy. If you want to know which content persuades you  more, take our Badge assessment to discover your unique set of presentation personality traits!

For more public speaking tips on presentation audience, check out these posts:

Presentation Trick: Persuade Your Audience

Impactful Presentation Imagery: A New Study Reveals Its Power

How To Create An Audience-Focused Presentation

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