Venture capital investors don't always back a product; they put their money behind a person. Telling personal stories is critical for entrepreneurs who want to persuade investors to buy into their vision, because your personal story is something no one else can copy. It makes you an original.
"Anytime you try to sell something to somebody, you're selling a dream" venture capitalist Geoff Ralston once told me. Ralston is the president of Y Combinator, the early stage investor behind such names as Airbnb and Reddit. "Storytelling is fundamental," he said.
Here are three tips to crafting and delivering a personal story that will make your presentation stand out.
Build the story before your slides.
Movie directors don't pick up a camera and begin filming. They write and storyboard--sketching each scene. In other words, the story comes first.
When you open PowerPoint, it doesn't ask for a personal story. First, it asks you to select a theme--a palate and color design. Second, the slides give you space for a top headline and bullet points. Bullet points don't tell a story.
Before you open your presentation tool of choice, write the script first--the narrative. Choose the stories you're going to share with a particular audience. Then you can decide which images or photos complement the story. There might also might be a video you can embed in the presentation that brings the story to life. Answer these questions before opening PowerPoint.
Story first. Slides second.
Choose stories of success over adversity.
At this point, you might be asking, "What kind of story do I tell?"
Stories of success over adversity almost always work as long as they relate to the theme of your presentation.
Once you find the story that people find relatable, tell the story over and over. When you're sick of telling it, tell it some more.
For example, real-estate mogul and Shark Tank star, Barbara Corcoran, has been sharing her personal story for years. At the age of 23, Corcoran was working as a waitress and borrowed $1,000 from her boyfriend to start a real-estate company. She later sold it for more than $60 million.
"I can't shake it," Corcoran said in an interview. "You think I want to talk about being a waitress? I'm so bored, I almost fall asleep! But that's the one everybody wants...and I tell it with glee!"
Tell personal stories to make a human connection. And tell them again.
Show pictures, not bullet points.
Don't ask your audience to read text on slides as you're sharing your story. Slides don't tell the story; slides complement the story.
Several years ago I shared a stage with Shark Tank star, Daymond John. I was impressed with the quality of his talk and presentation. John is a storyteller who brings his audience along on his rags-to-riches journey (success over adversity).
His audience learns that John's parents divorced when he was 10, and that he went from middle class to poor. He started working to help him and his mom make ends meet. School was difficult as he struggled with dyslexia. He started a clothing line, FUBU, in the spare room of his mom's house while he worked at Red Lobster to pay the bills.
At each step of his journey, the audience saw photos of John growing up in Hollis, Queens, or sewing clothes in the kitchen of his mom's house. The photos brought the experience to life. Not one slide had text and bullet points. John was telling a story, not delivering a document.
Visuals are more powerful than text. Use more of them.
Our ancestors were sitting around a campfire swapping stories for thousands of years. PowerPoint has only been around for thirty years. Our brains are wired for story, not slides.