Turn Your Great Ideas into Board Approvals

Humans have evolved, but the urge to hear a good story has remained inherent. Learn how to use this technique to engage and persuade your board.  

Storytelling is a powerful tool, whether you use it to engage association members, or for your next presentation to the board. History proves this point, dating back to thousands of years ago when humans told stories through cave drawings. As we evolved, the setting changed to huddling around the old campfire to be inspired and educated.

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Storytelling is still just as effective today even in a conference room setting (with the smell of coffee percolating through the air).

This is because our brains are hardwired for narratives. We process our world in a narrative. There is proof people recall and retain information more effectively when it is presented in story form – not in bullet points.
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Neuroscientists have proven that listening to just data activates only the language-processing and comprehension areas of the brain; but if a narrative is heard, the motor cortex gets engaged capturing the movement of what is being said – not just the facts. This is where the magic happens.

It is why storytelling is so effective.

It also explains why the experience of reading can feel alive. Words like “peppermint” or “eucalyptus” or “popcorn” trigger a response from the language-processing areas and those also devoted to dealing with smells.

A story is really the only way to activate parts in the brain that can make a listener turn the story into their OWN idea and experience. If you want your ideas to spread as you present to the board, telling a story is the single best way to “transfer” that idea to each member.

There’s a connection that is often missing when using presentation slides. Don’t let it put an invisible barrier that won’t allow you to share your expertise. Without that genuine connection between you and your audience, your goals will most likely not be met.

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Here are a few tips to help as you get started building your narrative:

Tip #1) Define the structure – What it looks like in the beginning, middle, and the end. For example, talk about a problem your association is facing as you start the story. The middle is where you would introduce the conflict and talk about your plan to save the day. The end would state the outcome after your solution is implemented. The board will be envisioning a “happily ever after” once you are through telling your story.

Tip #2) All great stories have a conflict – Include one in your story. Create a villain against you (the hero or heroine) and the board will naturally be on your side. Consider hit TV shows, or blockbuster movies. They undoubtedly have a conflict to resolve that keeps watchers intrigued, engaged, and coming back for more.

Tip #3) Nail down the story – Don’t spend any time on the presentation slides until your script is complete!

  • The focus should be on what you want to say, not the slides.
  • Highlight in yellow the parts of your narrative that speak to your passion. (Emphasize those while speaking to create a compelling connection with board members.)
  • Highlight in pink points that are important, but not critical to your story.
  • Use the highlighted verbiage to prepare your outline for your PowerPoint deck.

Bonus tip:  Bring values into your story, and it will make listeners take notice. Remember the superheroes of the Justice League? Their desire to stop the bad guys and protect good people always drove the plot and gave fans that feeling of victory – where evil never triumphed.

Now you are well-armed to be the superhero of your association, turning board member ‘Nos’ into board member ‘yeses.’


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