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Buying something new can often turn into an unexpected domino effect. Here’s a short story about the Diderot effect where a change in a couch led to the change in a living room

Photo by Marisa Howenstine on Unsplash

Explaining through stories is a powerful way to convey a message to audiences. This is a short story from the StoryBank publication that you can use next time in your presentation to convey your message.

The Story

How many times has this happened to you?

The three of us, (my wife, my son and myself) were all at the dining table having an afternoon snack during a lazy Sunday. Yet, where was our daughter? She seemed awfully quiet.

Calling out her name, we saw her give a big grin as she walked over from the couch, proud of her work of art. She had dutifully drawn all over the couch with a ballpoint pen.

After the excitement, we thought it was time to upgrade anyway as it was an old couch and promptly bought a new leather couch. When it had been placed in the living room, we were happy as can be. There was a new couch, it was a lot newer, more sturdy, more comfortable, and a better fit for our living room. However, our happiness subsided as we saw that the rug no longer fit the couch, nor did the old cushions, nor did the coffee table.

Soon enough, we went on to replace each of these one by one till we had a new living room. All from that one ballpoint pen scratch on the old couch.

This happens to all of us, we buy a new possession that is either an upgrade of an existing possession, or is a totally new consumer category that enters your home. Some examples are: a new shirt which requires cuff links, a new Mac computer when you had always used PC before, a new blazer, a new bike, and the list goes on and on.

This phenomenon is known as the Diderot Effect after the French philosopher Denis Diderot who reflected on how he received a gift of a new dressing gown which quickly didn’t fit the rest of his possessions. He quickly went to change his chair, his desk,and even his paintings.

Using the story / Key Messages

You can use the above story in your next presentation with the following key messages:

  • There can be knock on effects when changing things drastically
  • Although consumers may think about a purchase in isolation, there can be spiral effect which could be capitalised if planned carefully
  • Don’t think about offerings in isolation — there is always more opportunity
References

Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, give a clap below so that others may find this (you can also find me on Twitter ). You can also signup to the mailing list here.

Why we can’t stop with just the one purchase was originally published in The Story Bank on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Sometimes you could offer new services for next to nothing to your customers from your existing products

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Explaining through stories is a powerful way to convey a message to audiences. This is a short story from the StoryBank publication that you can use next time in your presentation to convey your message.

The Story

Southwest airlines is famous for operating a transparent low cost airline for passengers for decades. It is famous for it’s customer service, and the lack of any hidden fees — customers get free baggage, beverages and snacks, and also no additional fees for changing flights

Customers also don’t have assigned seats, customers sit where they like — hence, this benefits the first customers that board the flight.

A few years back, Southwest decided to offer a premium boarding option for customers that could pay extra to board the plane first for a fee. This cost the airline nothing, customers were very happy with the option and this helped to generate millions in revenue.

They even had other innovation options such as Early Bird Checkin, where for $15 you get automatically checked in 36 hours prior to departure (rather than standard 24 hour).

You don’t have to go to great lengths to create new services from your existing products.

Photo by Owen CL on UnsplashUsing the story / Key Messages

You can use the above story in your next presentation with the following key messages:

  • Think creatively about how you could add more services to your customers with your existing products
  • New services doesn’t need to cost you anything
  • Getting a deeper understanding of your customers pain points can help you offer new services
References

Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, give a clap below so that others may find this (you can also find me on Twitter ). You can also signup to the mailing list here.

Be creative in new services from your existing products was originally published in The Story Bank on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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You can’t escape the expectations of your product’s identity

If you use a given identity or brand for your product, you have to match the expectations of that identity

Photo by Ben Sweet on Unsplash

Explaining through stories is a powerful way to convey a message to audiences. This is a short story from the StoryBank publication that you can use next time in your presentation to convey your message.

The Story

In April 2011 RIM, the company that launched the BlackBerry, launched the BlackBerry PlayBook. It was an advanced tablet that had a great display which had better technical features than other products in the market at the time. As an example, they included Flash capabilities — something that was not available in other tablets. The thinking about the tablet could be highlighted by the message from the CEO at the time during the initial announcement: “We’re not trying to dumb down the internet for a mobile device. What we’ve done is bring up mobile devices to the level of desktop computers”.

However, there was one thing that was missing — there was no BlackBerry email application. Users had to have a physical Blackberry phone to pair to or had to use a web browser on the tablet itself. Needless to say, this was not seen very positively from critics or consumers alike. The tablet was not a success, where after launch, many units stayed on the shelf. People were naturally expecting a BlackBerry tablet, to have the features that were expected of the BlackBerry they’ve come to rely on.

RIM later fixed this issue, but then it never really recovered. It was not something that could be undone since from launch the story was about this gap rather than the other merits of the device.

BlackBerry was (and still is) famous for email — launching a tablet without email just conflicted with the BlackBerry identity.

When you launch a product, make sure it matches the expectations of the identity that the product is connected to.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BlackBerry_PlayBookUsing the story / Key Messages

You can use the above story in your next presentation with the following key messages:

  • You need to match implied expectations otherwise people will not have trust
  • If you intend to use a known identity for a product launch, you must match the expectations of that identity
  • It’s better to delay a launch and make sure you are true to the identity and brand
References

Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, give a clap below so that others may find this (you can also find me on Twitter ). You can also signup to the mailing list here.

You can’t escape the expectations of your identity was originally published in The Story Bank on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Incentivize behaviour change

Not all problems require technology solutions, sometimes you can have profound behaviour changes by simply having strong policies in governance.

Photo by Marcus Wallis on Unsplash

Explaining things through stories is a powerful way to convey a message to audiences. This is a story from the StoryBank publication that you can use next time in your presentation.

The Story

In the early 90s halibut fishing was so dangerous in Alaska, that 3 in 1000 fisherman would not come back from an expedition.

In the 1970s fisherman were allowed to fish for 150 days within the year. As fishing for halibut became more and more popular, the period allowed to fish become smaller and smaller. By the 90s it was reduced to the point where fisherman were only given a few 24 hours periods to fish.

The problem was that the 24 hour period was set so far in advance, that rain hail or shine, fisherman would still go out which led to the high number of deaths. This also resulted in large price fluctuations in price to consumers tied to the 24 hour periods.

In 1995, regulators found a simple solution to this: they introduced Individual Fishing Quotas to fisherman. This meant that a portion of the years total allowable catch was given to each fisherman and they were allowed to fish that volume any time. So when the weather was bad, they could stay home. This also helped to spread out the supply to consumers throughout the year which to manage prices. Fisherman could even lease out their quota to others.

Fish was also handled more carefully as there was more time to fish rather than this mad 24 hour rush.

One downside with this system is that it relies on allocating fairly which is always a challenge. However, the deaths dropped, there was fresher fish, and better supply. All thanks to a policy change.

Jess Jiang/NPRKey Messages
  • Policy changes can have profound impact
  • You don’t have to have complex solutions
  • The importance of governance
References

Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, give a clap below so that others may find this (you can also find me on Twitter ). You can also signup to the mailing list here.

Changing behaviour through the right policies was originally published in The Story Bank on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Sometimes taking the direct route could be much slower than taking what may seem like a longer route

Photo by Markus Gempeler on Unsplash

Explaining things through stories is a powerful way to convey a message to audiences. This is a story from the StoryBank publication that you can use next time in your presentation.

The story

In the late 1760s, Benjamin Franklin wondered why it took weeks longer for ships carrying mail to sail from London to North America, compared with the other way around. However, this wasn’t always the case. There were some captains that were able to sail a lot faster to North America — like Franklin’s cousin Timothy Folger.

Folger had previously been a whaler in Nantucket, and the phenomenon of the Gulf Stream was well known to the fisherman. There was a strong current caused by differences in temperature, water density, and water salinity that went from the Gulf of Mexico, along the east coast of North America, to the British Isles.

Originally from http://www.offshoreengineering.com/education/oceanography/114-education/ocean-environment/284-map-of-large-scale-surface-currents

Ships coming from London to North America, instead of going directly west (a straight line), should in fact go south and then follow the currents which would lead to a much faster route. If ships did go directly west, they would be sailing against one of the strongest ocean currents which would severely slow them down to reach North American.

This was well known to the whalers who discovered that whales could be seen along the boundaries of the Gulf Stream. However, the mail ships were “too wise to be counselled by simple American fisherman” and had ignored this advice.

Key Messages:
  • Asking for something directly from a decision maker may be slower than convincing influencers first then going to the decision maker
  • The direct route may seem quick but may have invisible resistance
  • Learn to listen from others in adjacent fields
References

Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, give a clap below so that others may find this (you can also find me on Twitter ). You can also signup to the mailing list here.

A straight line is not always the fastest route was originally published in The Story Bank on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Communicating complicated ideas is not an easy endeavour at all. Especially in a corporate setting, you’re pretty much setup for failure from the get go.

Photo by Teemu Paananen on UnsplashThe Challenge

Prior to the presentation

  • Multiple parties that have to pre-review your content and may re-shape your intended messaging (everyone has an opinion)
  • The message itself you want to convey can be complex to deliver
  • You’re tainted.. you know the topic much better than the audience, hence explaining things without implied knowledge that’s in your head is tough

During the presentation

  • You’re fighting for attention in a meeting room from people working on email, checking their phones, or just simply zoning out
  • Audience members maybe focusing on something else
  • Your content is too complex to understand
  • Some of your audience members may already have preconceived ideas
  • Having a complex slide at the start may throw people off and lose them for the remainder of the session

After the presentation

  • Your content will likely be forgotten almost immediately as people move onto the next thing
  • Your audience may only takeaway only part of your message
  • Or even worse, your audience may take away the wrong message
Lead with a story

This is where it helps enormously to lead with a story. Everyone loves a story. It was how we communicated to each other for thousands of years, and in fact our brains are wired to be more receptive to stories. A far greater part of the brain is activated during listening to a story rather than seeing numbers in a spreadsheet.

Here are some great examples of presentations that have killed it because of leading with stories.

So how does this help in a corporate setting?

When you tell a story in a corporate setting, what works well is to have a few simple images only on your slides, but then have the narrative ready to present. With this in mind, lets revisit the above situation — your presentation could very well play out as follows:

Prior to the presentation

Multiple parties that have to pre-review your content and may re-shape your intended messaging (everyone has an opinion)

  • Whenever you tell a story, have a large visual with simple content. In your notes, if your boss is really interested, just put down the key message of the story. There will be little challenges on this — so you will get this through the way you want it

The message itself you want to convey can be complex

  • It is no surprise that providing a message through a story is much simpler for people to grasp

You’re tainted.. you know the topic much better than the audience, hence explaining things without implied knowledge that’s in your head is tough

  • You can only tell a few stories in a given presentation. You must choose one that conveys your core message — hence you’re forced to select messaging careful with full mindfulness of context from your audience

During the presentation:

You’re fighting for attention in a meeting room from people working on email, checking their phones, or just simply zoning out

  • People sadly spend an awful lot of time in their day in a blur of meetings. Having a story quickly grabs everyone’s attention as it will be something different

Audience members maybe focusing on something else

  • Telling a story, will pique everyone’s interest and they will continue to listen after your story is over. It can be in some ways a very polite slap in the face

Your content is too complex to understand

  • Having a simple story forces you to breakdown your complexity into a simple message, and helps make it easier to consume

After the presentation:

Your content will likely be forgotten almost immediately as people move onto the next thing

  • I’ve made 100s of presentations, and the ones that people continually remember, even more than a year later are the ones where I had a story to tell

Your audience may only takeaway only part of your message Your content will be forgotten

  • This is where you need to be tactical. Usually your story will end with a key message which you then need to segue into your context. For example, if you were trying to convince a team to provide for a funding for new product development which has uncertainty about success, you could tell a story about an unlikely product that was enormously successful but was a long shot (e.g. Zappos — who could ever conceive buying shoes online), or tell a story about how there might be unintended discoveries through the product development process (e.g. Slack, the billion dollar collaboration platform, was never purposely developed as a product, but was a tool that was created on the site to develop a game).

There are plenty of resources on the web about pulling a presentation together, but not many resources on stories that you can use in your presentation. I am convinced, with many others, the power of telling stories.

Some resources that you may find useful includes:

You can find Lead with A Story on Amazon or Audible. It’s a great book which goes through the reasons of why stories are a great to include in your presentation, how to add them, and many examples of stories to include.

Hence, in your next presentation, include a story that will not only grab attention, but help you to deliver the key message and help your audience remember your content.

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Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, give a clap below so that others may find this (you can also find me on Twitter ). You can also signup to the mailing list here.

Why presentations at the office are so difficult and what you can do about it was originally published in The Story Bank on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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We all tend to be quite predictable at times which one can take advantage of with the right level of planning and preparation

Photo by Ryoji Iwata on Unsplash

(This is part of the Presentation Storytellers publication)

In 1968, the manager of a bank in Tokyo (Nihon Shintaku Ginko) received threatening letters of an impending bomb threat on his house. The bank manager was scared and had shared this with his colleagues at work but he still continued with his daily activities.

On a regular basis the bank would have deliveries arranged with bank staff. On one such delivery days later, there were four bank staff in one of these cars that was suddenly chased and stopped by a police officer on a motor bike. The officer hurriedly told the staff that the bank managers house had been blown up and that dynamite maybe present in the car. As the bank employees stepped out of the car, the police offer looked under the car where smoke suddenly started to appear. The policeman screamed at the employees to run, and when the employees had retreated, the policeman and the car had gone, along with the $300m yen that was in the car. The bank staff were transporting the bonuses of employees in the car.

The police offer/bank robber was never found and they money never recovered.

Key messages:
  • Thinking a few steps ahead
  • One person can orchestrate with clever planning
  • Leverage human behaviour to your advantage
Presentation Images:

You can use the following images for your slides

Other resources:

Thanks for reading! If you like what you read, give a clap below so that others may find this (you can also find me on Twitter ). You can also follow the StoryBank publication here.

Leveraging predictable behaviour was originally published in The Story Bank on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Ever made a presentation at the office where you’ve bombed?

I have.. many many times, and it is painful.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

People ignore you, they nod-off, they start talking, or they pretend to have an important email they must check at that instant. It throws you off, and you shrink to a tiny size as the realisation dawns on you that you have 15 more slides to deliver.

There’s plenty of resources out there that guides on how to deliver better presentations: make eye content, address your audience, video tape yourself to practice, and on and on the advice goes. There’s one piece of advice that I have found especially useful though: lead with a story.

This single piece of advice has helped me to deliver better presentations, more memorable presentations, and more importantly has helped to hit home the key messages. However, finding the right story can be tough — it takes time to identify, verify, and also to focus the key message.

This is what this publication is all about. The goal is to have these presentation-ready stories collected here for you to reuse. Search for what you need, get the story, see the key points, and even have those important images readily available that you can have as a back drop in your slides.

I’ve been pulling presentations together in corporate settings for over a decade anywhere ranging from presentations about new IT systems, to launching new staff programs, all the way to introducing new procurement practices.

If you have a story you’d like to contribute and be part of the publication, please email me storybank2018@gmail.com!

Stories for your next presentation was originally published in The Story Bank on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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