The first story ever told might have happened in the gloomy recess of a cave. When and wherever they began, stories are an integral part of how we communicate with each other. We use stories to educate, entertain or convey our values. And importantly in the context of client presentations, you can convey meaning and make understandable complicated concepts or data through storytelling.

Here are some tips for how to craft an effective business-related story for your presentation meetings. Your story will be more relevant to the prospect or client if you use the following structure:

  • Start with a business context. “Our customer service score has improved by percent”
  • Tell the story. “How this trend began was last year we …”
  • Say what you learned from the story. “We heard loud and clear …”
  • Translate what it means to this prospect or client. “What this means to you …”

Your story will be well told if you use the following techniques:

  • Use Short Sentences and Bullet Phrases
  • Relive the Experience Emotionally
  • Be Vulnerable
  • Use Present Tense Verbs
  • Provide Sensory Details
  • Play Roles

Tell stories that use data to support your key points rather than the other way around. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a well-told, relevant story is worth a thousand data points in a presentation. According to Harvard Business Review, a data-driven presentation is now a crucial skill for many professionals, since we often have to tell our colleagues a story about the success of a new initiative, the promise of a new business opportunity, or the imperative of a change in strategy—stories that are much more compelling when they’re backed by numbers.

However, it is important to use it sparingly. Data should support your story rather than become a distraction from your main messages. Don’t bore your audience with needless or irrelevant data.