I'm a firm believer that incorporating a relevant, personal story into your presentation is a great way to connect with your audience. This is especially useful when you want to explain a somewhat 'dry' topic. It also adds a little bit of punch.
Let's face it. We all like a good story, if it's told in a personal, conversational tone. A word of caution: Use this technique sparingly and only when appropriate. In other words, don't pepper your presentation with a personal story for every bullet point; otherwise, you risk getting heavy sighs, or rolling of the eyeballs, by some in your audience. Worse, they'll go back to texting or checking their emails. Clearly a death knell and a sure sign that you've lost your audience's attention.
However, if used properly, telling a personal story to illustrate a specific point can be a powerful tool. But it also takes practice. Lots of practice.
Remember: At the heart of any good, memorable presentation is one where the speaker has connected on an emotional level with his or her audience. A standing ovation doesn't hurt, either.
A brief article by John Baldoni on the HBR Blog Network served as inspiration for this post. Also, check out this video from Nancy Duarte who explains the power of storytelling. Now go out there and deliver a compelling, meaningful presentation.