Pachter's Pointers:
Business Etiquette Tips & Career Suggestions


Tell Tales: Bring Your Presentation To Life

Consider these recent experiences:

·       --During one of our Sunday walks, my husband commented that I was interrupting him. I apologized. Yet a few minutes later, he interrupted me. I asked, with a smile on my face, “How come I am not allowed to interrupt you, but you can interrupt me?” His response: “Is there a right answer to that question?”

--A woman in one of my seminars told me about a delivery man who routinely walked into the office where she worked and greeted the women with "Hi, Hot Mommas.” One of her coworkers told him: “Please don't call me ‘Hot Momma,’ regardless of whether I am or not."  The next day, the man again visited the office and said, "Hi, Hot Mommas" – and then pointed to the woman who had confronted him and added “...except for you.”

--One of my undergraduate students followed my advice and sent an email to his professor, thanking him for his email answering several questions about an upcoming project. The professor was so pleased that the student had thanked him that he gave him two additional points on his project.

My presentations include many stories, and the examples above will find their way into some of my future seminars. Good stories reinforce and/or prove your key points. They create a picture for your audience, bringing to life the information you want to convey and making it much more memorable than a recitation of statistics or data.

Following the steps below will help you to add stories to your presentations:

1. View your experiences as opportunities to find stories. Very few of my seminar participants forget my story of going to the bathroom with my mic on. I use it to illustrate the point that it’s not what happens to you that matters, it is how you handle what happens to you. Every story doesn’t have to be as extreme as my mic incident. You will soon build a reservoir of potential stories if:
  • You observe something that illustrates a point in your presentation.  
  • Someone says, “That happened to me…” in response to some point you are making. That person’s anecdote can add another voice to your information. 
  • You reference someone in an article or book, or on a website, who proves your point.
      2. Keep a story file. Write down or copy just enough detail of the story material so you will remember what happened. Keep this information in an electronic file or in an old-fashioned manila folder so the story will be readily available.
3. Prepare the story. When you start to put your presentation together, go to your file and choose appropriate examples to support your points. Don’t use people’s names, unless you have their approval or the person is clearly a public figure. Don’t criticize or belittle anyone, and don’t lie – but you can embellish the truth a little for dramatic effect or to protect someone’s identity. Also, be cautious with humor. Although humor can add a lot to your story, it can also bomb badly.

4. Practice. In business presentations, shorter stories generally work best. Once you have chosen a story you want to use, practice saying it out loud, using as few words as necessary to convey your point.

The more you include stories in your presentations, the more comfortable you become using them. Additional information on presentation skills can be found in my new book, The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success. Happy Tales!  

Pachter & Associates provides seminars and coaching on presentation skills and business etiquette. Contact Joyce Hoff at 856.751.6141 or for more information.


  1. Anonymous11/21/2013

    Great suggestions here, Barbara. Whenever I'm giving a presentation I'm always a bit apprehensive about whether or not the material will actually be impactful. I'm sure using your story suggestion will help things stick!

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  4. Those are even the very good stories which have been initiated here and hopefully for the future the concerning objects would amount to better understanding of the values.


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