Presentation Skills? Seriously? (Part Eight)

Article Index


Stories can be the starting point for the consideration of serious issues that speak to us in a personal and powerful way. Think of your favourite fairy tale and how you felt the first time you were told that story. Consider your feelings and reasons for listening to it again and again. Similarly think of how long this particular story has stayed in your memory.

Part of the storyteller’s duty is to create similar emotions to his listeners. 

Tip #6: Working with the story characteristics

Read the accident report and complete the following table adding as many details about each of the story characteristics. Consider suitability and effectiveness.


1 Character   Physical description, Personality, Nationality, Social/ Educational background, etc.
2 Setting   Time (year, month, day), Place (location), Surroundings (landmarks), Season, Weather, etc. 
3 Plot Main events, Secondary events, Timeline (Before, During, After), Actions, Ending 
4 Conflict  Internal (between the character and his thoughts), External (between different characters) 
5 Theme  Central idea, Belief(s), etc. 

Tip #7: Working with emotions

Consider the accident report above. What are the main issues that arise? Which ones affect the characters? Which ones affect or should affect the audience of your story? Think of courage, responsibility, carelessness, honesty, calmness, etc.

Voice and Sounds

A storyteller can use his voice to add a dramatic effect to his presentation, to make the delivery of the story more interesting and engaging. The presenter’s voice is a simple, yet a very effective way to personalize the story, to help the audience understand the context.

In a digital environment, the presenter can use additional sound effects, music or other sounds that support the storyline. Both narration and sound effects can be incorporated into the software used to create the digital story.

In addition, the storyteller can use a storyboard to plan and organize his story. He can create similar storyboard templates using the PowerPoint/Print Handouts function. As a rule of thumb, he needs to remember that six frames allow for approximately a 2 minute narration. The total length of the story will depend on the length of the narration and the length of the video and audio files.

Tip #8: Complete your storyboard
Complete the example below with the images and sounds that you would like to use. Include transition effect that you may want to use as well as the narrative. Organise your files in folders named Frame1, Frame 2, etc. Think of what transitions would be more effective.

Tip #9: Create a presentation

Open a new presentation in PowerPoint and insert all the images and sound files that you have selected. Does the end product match your storyboard? Add transitions and run your presentation. Again, check the final product. Make any necessary changes.  


The story will definitely benefit from an economical approach. Simply put, using just enough content to tell the story without overloading the viewer with redundant information.

The storyteller should offer enough information to excite the listener’s imagination, yet allow the listener to develop his own understanding and assumptions about the story, its characters, their motives, the plot development and the like.

It is important to remember that economy does not only apply to content. It applies to effects as well. A presentation overloaded with audio and visual effects can generate interest and involvement for the wrong reasons.

Tip #10: Less is more
Look at the Accident Report in Tip #1 and the storyboard template in Tip #8. Decide on one word that you could use to in each box to tell the story. Use one word only. All words must be of the same category: verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc.
Give the storyboard to a colleague or classmate who has not read the report. Ask them to think of a story to tell you using the words in the storyboard. How close to or far away from the original is their story?
Repeat the steps above but this time using pictures instead of words. How different is the result?


Speed of delivery is important. A storyteller can lose his audience either because he is going too fast or because he is going too slowly. The story needs to progress at a pace that the audience can follow comfortably. They need time to take in the information offered, process it and start developing their own reactions. This loop will be happening repeatedly for the duration of the presentation.
As a rule of thumb variety is key. Vary your pace as the story develops using, for instance, a faster or slower rhythm to add dramatic effect to events.

Tip #11: Adjust your pace
Record yourself while giving a presentation. Listen to yourself (possibly with your eyes closed). What are your initial feelings? Where can you change your pace to make it more effective?

Tip #12: Polishing your presentation
Record or video yourself when giving this presentation. What changes do you need to make to content, effects and delivery to make it more effective? Use the following categories to assess yourself. Make any additions or deletions to content as necessary.

Delivery Slides
Voice Text in Slides
Vocal Emphasis Slide Format
Volume Images
Rate Animation
Vocal Properties Graphs
Articulation Slide Presentation
Pronunciation Visual Aids


Robin, Bernard R., The Educational Uses of Digital Storytelling, University of Houston,, [Accessed March 23, 2013]
Brown, J., Bryan, J., & Brown, T. (2005). Twenty-first century literacy and technology in K-8 classrooms. Innovate 1(3). (Retrieved March 13, 2013).
Center for Digital Storytelling, 2005
McDrury, J.& Alterio, M.G. (2003) Learning through storytelling in higher education: using reflection and experience to improve learning. London: Kogan Page.
Evaluating the effectiveness of digital storytelling for student reflection, Martin Jenkins and Jo Lonsdale, Centre for Active Learning, University of Gloucestershire, UK, Proceedings ascilite Singapore 2007
Digital Storytelling Manual,, [Accessed March 23, 2013], [Accessed April, 8th, 2013, slightly adapted], [Accessed April, 8th, 2013]

By George Drivas, Director of Studies, Department of Foreign Languages





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