A New Tool for Adding Storytelling to Your Product Pitches

Suddenly, these objects are part of an inspiring narrative — one that I can use to reveal something meaningful about myself to others. That’s something I am willing to pay for. – Ty Montague

intelligent.ly storytelling adam sigel
Image of my storytelling class via Intelligent.ly

What if there was a tool that helped you through each step of the storytelling process: content gathering, narrative construction, and slide design. Think of it as “iMovie trailers for product pitches.”

There are countless books, articles, and blog posts out there preaching the persuasive value of storytelling. It’s becoming common knowledge that emotional appeals, user-centric content, and compelling narratives can influence customers, investors, and evangelists.

However, after all the inspirational reading, people are still left with the same broken process for building their story. PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi, and Google Docs are all built for slide design and delivery. They aren’t built for helping people design stories.

So I came up with something that makes it easier to design stories for your product.

storytelling slides narrative storyboard
Content, narrative, and design all in one place

Focus on the Narrative, Not Just Slide Design

The goal of this tool is to put the first two steps of presentation design—content gathering and narrative construction—on equal footing with slide design. Gorgeous slides are nice, but there’s definitely a lipstick-on-a-pig problem with most pitch decks. I wanted to make something that helps people incorporate all the storytelling theory I and others have offered into product pitches. Here’s how it works:

  1. The first few slides of the template are instructional. They outline the narrative structure to follow—for starters, I went with the venerable Hero’s Journey—and offer an example storyboard of the slides and how they can be used to tell your product story.
  2. The last of the instructional slides is a “Shot list” of the words and phrases specific to your product that will get plugged into the template—very Mad Libs. Filling out the Shot list requires real consideration of your product, target users, and market landscape. That’s the point.
  3. The presentation slides are simple and straightforward and designed not to require any visual jiujitsu. There is a human or a screenshot on every page so your audience can make a connection with your story. Text and image placeholders can be swapped out and edited as necessary. All the images are licensed under Creative Commons usage so feel free to leave them in or replace them with something more relevant to your product.

This template is designed to market mobile apps only for now. It’s not an investor deck template. If you like the idea and have other use cases in mind, contact me, I’d love to hear any and all feedback on this product.

Below are a few example presentations made with this template. As you’ll see, they frame the product benefits in a story of specific user pain. Pandora makes commuting to work easier. Nest keeps dads from yelling at their kids. RunKeeper addresses a latent user need of bringing fitness into your digital lifestyle.
Nest story
RunKeeper story
  • J. La Rochebrochard

    Hey Adam, thanks for your tweet. Here is my feedback :)

    1) Why don’t you use a mainstream product for slide 3 instead of that dog stuff?

    2) There are not only pains but also opportunities. And often a mix of both.

    3) The goal is one thing but the way people perceive your product is even more relevant I think. you often end up with a difference between the desired effect and the perceived effect.

    4) Can’t you try to make 2 or 3 examples with existing products on the market. I’ll actually try to do so with my pitch deck template.

    • http://adamdsigel.com/ Adam

      Thanks very much for the feedback. Using a mainstream product in the example makes lots of sense, I’ll update this soon to incorporate that.

      Regarding perception of product—I agree it’s important. How do you reconcile between the difference of desired/perceived impact?

      I have made example decks with real products on the market to test this out, but haven’t posted them. I would love to have a gallery of user submitted work though. Very interested to see how others adapt this framework to meet their needs.

    • http://adamdsigel.com/ Adam

      Well it took me longer to post these than I anticipated, but I’ve updated the post with examples using well-known products.

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