Welcome to my regular series entitled My Light Bulb Moment. This column highlights a 'blinding flash of insight', business, cultural and sports leaders have experienced, and how this changed their lives forever.

Kevin Bowler — chief executive, Tourism New Zealand
Born and educated in Hamilton, Kevin Bowler completed a Bachelor of Management Studies at the University of Waikato. During the first 20 years of his career, Kevin worked for a number of leading international brands including Unilever and New Zealand Dairy Foods (now Fonterra). In 2003 he joined Telecom and led a range of marketing teams before becoming the inaugural chief executive for joint venture media business between Telecom and Yahoo! in 2007. In 2010, Kevin became chief executive of Tourism New Zealand, the Crown Entity responsible for growing the $10 billion international visitor market for New Zealand.

Lightbulb moment — the power of the story
"In recent times I've discovered the benefit of using relevant 'stories' and my own 'voice' when I'm speaking publicly or to our team," Kevin says. Like many business people he has been pretty good at delivering facts, graphs and strategies while leaning on PowerPoint slides for prompts. "However, these days I'm trying hard to introduce real stories and personal experiences into my messaging to bring my points to life and to make an impression on my audiences. Whilst I'm no expert, I am finding is there is real power in using stories and personal accounts in business communications."

Connecting with your audience
Whether you are the MC at a wedding, delivering the year's financial results to the board, or speaking at a conference to hundreds of audience members, the most important goal is to connect with your audience. Kevin believes "the benefit of communicating a great story to get your point across is key; great stories quickly resonate with customers, staff, stakeholders and wider communities - and most importantly people remember stories!"


As a professional speaker I am reminded again and again that insightful, inspiring and humorous stories can give you great 'keys' to help you unlock your audience. A quality and well-thought out story allows your audience the ability to quickly identify and apply key learning points you wish to make.

A great speaking technique I sometimes use is 'pre-framing', where you start a presentation with a story that sets the scene for the rest of your talk. Later on after your presentation, your story will help 'anchor' your learning points as the audience moves off to process and apply what you have shared.

The next time you are preparing an important presentation, don't be afraid to include an insightful and engaging story that hits the spot. Your audience will be glad you did!

• Come and join Tom O'Neil and friends at the 'Supercharge Your Results' half-day workshop on August 18 in Auckland. Register at http://supercharge.thecorporatetoolbox.com/?r=Tom