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We remember people who tell stories because, as psychologists and neuroscientists tell us, stories form the basis of how we think, organize and remember information. Stories can also move people emotionally and motivate them to buy.

It may surprise you to learn it’s not about your company telling your story. In story-based presentations, the target customer is always the protagonist.

Make the customer the hero of your story, with you simply playing a role in your customer’s story, and you’ll get the desired reaction from your audience — being memorable and creating deeper engagement and sales.

The protagonist of a story needs to be someone we relate to, care about and want to see succeed.

Here are the first three criteria for selecting your best case studies to engage your audience:

1. Find a story that fits like a glove.

Here’s the thing with finding the best stories for your presentation: You must do your research. When you put your time in and do your research, you’ll know which stories will become more compelling and relevant to your audience.

Your research should include a study of your audience’s background and needs. You can ask the promoter of the event, or you can review the prior year’s event to get a good grasp of the attendee profile. A great tip is to search for old hashtags from previous events to get a sense of the type of people that will attend your presentation.

2. Embrace diversity while staying relevant.

Analyze the event to find out who the other speakers are and get a good understanding of who the companies and organizers are. Facebook and LinkedIn are wonderful places to do this research so you can build audience profiles that will help you find stories that are relevant to them. If you were to speak with a women’s group, find stories related to women; if you are going to talk to doctors, find case studies on doctors or even chiropractors or dentists.

You want to appear as relevant to your audience as possible in the best way that you can. Think in their perspective or from their walk of life; bring stories that allow your audience to walk alongside the person within the case study. Telling stories that embrace diversity gives validity to your presentation. It is about maximizing your opportunity by being as relevant as you can to audiences that are male or female, young or old, or from different races and nationalities.

3. Take them on a transformational journey.

People love a great underdog story — there is magic in transformational results that gets a crowd to buy into the story, which will also translate into sales. Your case study should be very results oriented because at the end of the day, your offer provides strategies to get them from point A to point B successfully.

It isn’t much of a case study if you cannot identify the transformational changes from where the client started to where he is today — which should be where your audience wants to be as well. The criteria of transformational results in a case study are important because they allow the audience to buy into the opportunities that are also available to them. They can relate to the beginning of a tough journey but gain hope, knowing that amazing results are waiting at the end of the road for them as well.

I recently sat down with Ron Sheetz, a relationship and trust marketing strategist, who spends a majority of his time working with private practice professionals and creator of the “Transfer of Trust Triangle,” to discuss “the journey.”

Sheetz says, “People can instinctively identify testimonials, which, in a traditional format, doesn’t really further the cause. A better way to build rapport, trust and take the audience on a journey is by exploring the prospect’s pain. Instead of asking for an open-ended testimonial about you or your company, guide them with them specific questions related to the common objections, challenges faced and how they were able to overcome them.”

He also shared his three-part formula for capturing the most effective testimonials from clients and patients:

  1. Tell me about what your experiences were like before coming to us.
  2. What was it that finally motivated you to come to us? What was it about us that really was the motivator for you, that made us different?
  3. What were the results, and now how do you feel, or what results do you get?

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