Examples and stories can bring your presentations alive. They can transform a dull, dry subject into something which is interesting and alive. When presenters give examples, it helps explain what they are saying in a way that the audience can understand. Examples make the material you deliver less 'information' or and more 'entertainment'.
If you can give your examples in the form of stories, you will be using a format that everyone can understand. We were all brought up on stories and some of the greatest influencers in history gave their messages as stories ? remember Aesop and his fables!
So, to make the most of the examples you could use you need to have a strategy to include them in all of your talks. There are several ways you can do this. For instance, for each of your main points try to think of at least one example that backs up what you are saying. You may not use each example, but you should have them in mind so you can introduce them if necessary. Keep a list of these examples handy, so that when you put your final presentation together you can choose the most interesting and relevant ones.
Make your examples include human beings, preferably real people. Examples that include people are much more powerful than abstract examples. If your examples include you in them, they will be much more attractive to the audience. Research shows us that audiences expect speakers to talk about their own experiences and find it immensely valuable.
Try to paint vivid pictures in the mind of your audience with your examples. If your audience can mentally see what you are describing they are much more likely to remember it. Psychologists have demonstrated that much of our thinking is visually-based. Hence, if you talk in word pictures you will make it easy for your audience to understand what you are saying.
Make your examples relevant to the audience. Find out in advance the kind of examples that are likely to interest them; do some audience research to help boost your examples.
Choose examples that are current. Do not use examples from the distant past as they have less impact than examples set in the present.
Always announce your examples with words like 'here's a story that shows what I mean'. Announcements like this will alert your audience to pay close attention.
Wherever possible make your examples light or humorous. Avoid being serious or stuffy with your examples. Tell your stories in the same way as you would in a social situation, such as a dinner party or in a bar. The more natural they sound, the greater their impact.
Always be on the lookout for new examples and stories that can back up your points. The more examples you have 'in stock' the more you will be able to choose one relevant to a particular audience.
Graham Jones runs The Presentation Business, http://www.presentationbiz.com