Vivek Singh runs presentation design firm Jazz Factory and recently published a new book, Presentation Masala. Vivek and I reconnected via email the other day to discuss it.
Andrew: When and how did you become interested in storytelling?
Vivek: I got drawn into telling stories by chance. Back in my MBA days (2005), birthday celebrations were a big affair on campus and each dorm used to send out simple invites to all the students. My friend Ranga and I thought we should make those invites a bit more entertaining. We started telling the life story of the birthday boy with images, videos and music. This really caught on and we created lots of such stories. And all this was done on PowerPoint.
Andrew: What are the keys to telling a good story, in your opinion?
Vivek: Every story you tell has to be vivid and entertaining. Talk about real people and real incidents. Show your audience the photos or videos. Involve them emotionally. Entertain them as you narrate it and keep it short. Every speech or presentation is competing with more entertaining options like Facebook and Instagram. You start to bore and your audience will switch off. Your presentation is like the starting ad on YouTube. I’ll skip if I am not intrigued.
Andrew: What is the most impactful story you have ever told?
Vivek: There is no one rockstar story but there are many good ones. I was helping a friend who was running an online real-estate start-up in 2015. They were a late entrant to the market. On top of that, another start-up BRICKLY was pouring millions of dollars into advertising. They were all over the news and every investor was talking about them. Investors thought no one could compete with them.
My friend was in a precarious situation. He business was doing fine and he had some angel investment but fresh funds were needed. Investors however were not even giving him a meeting. That’s when we created a new teaser pitch deck for the start-up.
Multiple rounds of interviews with my friend revealed that his revenues were higher than that of BRICKLY. That was the shocker for me. His budgets were puny yet his business was better. This is how we started the new deck: “BRICKLY is present all over India. We are present in 7 cities. Yet, our revenues > BRICKLY.” The rest of the deck talked about how did we achieve this with a tiny marketing budget. It was a short story with a powerful start.
This new story worked! My friend started landing meetings and eventually got acquired by a larger start-up.
Andrew: The power of a story! So what will readers learn from your book?
Vivek: My aim is simple. My reader should learn the basics of creating any business presentation. He/she should be able to avoid common pitfalls. They should learn how to:
Presentation Masala can be found on Amazon.com.