Big Presentations in Small Rooms book cover

Big Presentations in Small Rooms

helping ordinary people communicate with extraordinary effectiveness


When preparing Big Presentations in Small Rooms, one challenge is to find compelling presentation stories and illustrations.  A great story can create a mental hook for your audience.  It can deepen their understanding and increase their retention. 

Often, these presentations are quick-prep assignments. Your preparation and practice time is limited.  You want to do a good job.  You want to communicate well.  Stories could help.

What can you do?

Be patient.  This quick lesson goes to the moon and back.


In July of 1969, something extraordinary happened.  It was one of many remarkable events associated with the Apollo 11 Moon Landing. 

At 3:17 PM CDT, Neil Armstrong announced a safe landing, “Houston, Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed.” 

At 9:556 PM, CDT came the famous quote, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The moonwalk lasted 2 hours and 31 minutes, and the first moon rocks were collected.  We had gone to the moon and brought home rocks to prove it.  (

My father was a guard at NASA from 1973 through 1978.  One of his responsibilities was to guard those rocks.  He would be present when rocks were moved from one vault to another as various departments would study them.  They were rare and precious.

A year after Dad moved to a different job, something else extraordinary occurred.  In November of 1979, The Japanese National Institute of Polar Research discovered a moon rock meteorite in Antarctica. It was the first of  (

What we traveled to the moon to retrieve had been sent directly to us.  As of July 18, 2021, 471 named lunar meteorites are recognized ( 

Man on the moon
Great presentation stories are like moon rocks. Photo by History in HD on Unsplash;


One of my favorite teaching projects involves helping organizations communicate their core values and equip employees to function in ways that support those values.

At first, it was tempting to go out and find stories that support these values.  It was like going to the moon to collect moon rocks.

I was delighted to work with one organization that had been collecting positive feedback.  Whenever a customer would write a note, post on social media, or call in with appreciation for good service, they would capture that information in a data table.  They had names, dates, and descriptions. 

All of the best presentation stories and illustrations were at my fingertips!  It was like discovering the moon rocks in my own backyard!

Perhaps the same thing is available to you.  When you are seeking presentation stories and good illustrations, look within the organization.  You might find some moon rocks. 

Work happening in office windows.
Look for stories within your organization. Photo by dylan nolte on Unsplash;


If you can discover good stories and illustrations, it accomplished a few powerful things.

It is quick access.  When you are on a tight deadline, gathering in-house stories might prove to be the fastest way to collect good content.  A few strategic conversations could yield great stories!

It builds up the people featured in those stories.  Setting up an employee to be the hero of a story that makes the organization look good can be a win-win-win.  The third win is that people appreciate your ability to build up individuals and the organization.

The third benefit is that these stories are more attractive.  In-house stories capture attention more effectively than an illustration featuring someone unknown to the audience.

Smiling man giving thumbs-up
Good stories create appreciation and healthy relationships. Photo by Aziz Acharki on Unsplash;

When I presented the core values training featuring the in-house customer service stories, the audience was invested! And they were able to add even more stories to the mix. It was a positive way to acknowledge ongoing good work and then building on that solid foundation.  It was much better than teaching in ways that might communicate that these core values are new and that we need to change to honor them.  The values were already being honored.  We had stories to prove it!  This is who we are, and we want to celebrate it and pass it on to future generations of employees.

We didn’t have to go to the moon for the valuable nuggets.  They were right here with us.

As presenters, this is good news. 


When you compile information for your next presentation, ask yourself if stories or illustrations would be helpful.  If so, then ask whether those presentation stories could feature the in-house successes of the organization. 

Then perhaps you can achieve that win-win-win.  You build people up.  You build the organization up.  And your reputation is built in the process. 

Your presence will be appreciated when your stories share the spotlight in ways that honor the organization by honoring its people.  And your message will be more powerful.

The presentation stories can be short (30 seconds to one minute) and fit into a brief presentation without monopolizing it. 

Not all presentations benefit from stories, but some do.  When they do, be willing to ask questions and request stories.  You might find moon rocks in your own backyard!

If you want to read more, there are more articles on the blog, or you can pick up the book Big Presentations in Small Rooms.

If you like to listen, check out The Big Presentations Podcast.

If you are looking for a community, join The Workplace Presentations Hub.

There are so many ways to receive help and encouragement.  It is an honor to serve you!

Like this post? Please share!

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

More posts you might like...

Leave a Comment