This is a guest post by Ted Frank, author of Get to the Heart.
I’ve seen people, specifically new leaders, struggle with presentations. As they try to explain complicated diagrams and metaphors, their confidence and credibility drain as they show stock-photo slides to a bored audience.
The problem? Their storytelling. But there’s a storytelling method that works for real workplace situations, and it comes from a place everyone already knows: the movies. By harnessing the strategies of filmmakers, your presentations can be concise and powerful, and your employees will understand your ideas and get inspired by them. Here’s how:
Find your key points
Most movies are actually built around three key scenes. Screenwriters determine those points first, emphasize them, and then build the rest of the story around them. If you start with three important things your listeners need to retain and build your presentation around them, you’ll get to choose what they remember.
Make it powerful
A filmmaker’s most powerful tool? Emotion. We feel it in the theater when we get excited, scared and sad, and it’s why movies move us so profoundly. Yet emotion is rarely leveraged in presentations. Bullets and charts speak to the rational mind, but the brain’s emotional part is what makes your listeners actually take action.
Rally around a hero
We all love movie heroes, and there’s no reason your presentation can’t revolve around a hero. For example, a customer whose life is made better by your products, a department that can jump on an opportunity, or an employee who went above and beyond. Make your hero relatable and someone listeners will care about and you’ll have a powerful way to inspire your team.
Feel it with action
Showing your hero in action (dealing with a problem, for instance) can take you even further, establishing the need for your product or idea, and compelling listeners to end your hero’s suffering.
Build the cause
Wrap your presentation into a nice package and your audience will be able to buy-in to your ideas and encourage others to do the same. Follow this structure:
- Recap your hero’s aspirations.
- Highlight gaps between those aspirations and the current situation.
- Show the pain and frustration those gaps cause.
- State opportunities that close those gaps and relieve the hero’s pain.
- Express the payoff of being a person who champions this idea, like additional revenue or taking market share from a competitor.
- Outline any assets, partnerships or initiatives that are already moving in that direction so you minimize the risk of doing something new.
The best tool of all
There’s an amazing element you can utilize that’s so powerful, it could raise your presentation to the next level. It’s in every great movie, and I believe this magical ingredient is in everything we find compelling. What am I talking about? Wait for it …
It’s tension. Tension makes stories gripping and can drastically improve your presentation. Movies have turned tension into an art form, using these methods:
- Anticipation: Remember above when I made you “wait for it?” I was reeling you in, making you anticipate the answer. A rhetorical question, followed by a pause is a perfect way to create anticipation.
- Framing: Not the framing of an argument, but what the eye actually sees. Movies use a powerful technique called the “dolly push.” When filmmakers want you to emotionally attach, they move the camera toward the actor. Do the same thing with your fee. When you want to stress a key point and make your audience members listen closely, move slowly toward them to increase the tension and emotion.
Those are just a few of the many ways movie-style storytelling can make you more compelling, and hopefully they’ll get you started on making your presentation memorable, powerful … and cinematic.
Ted Frank is the author of Get to the Heart, available now at www.gettotheheartbook.com. As a story strategist at Backstories Studio, he uses movie-style storytelling to help people make their presentations quicker, more visual, and more emotionally effective. A longtime veteran in advertising, marketing, consulting, and filmmaking, Frank has discovered how to transform corporate projects into powerful stories for companies such as Netflix, Fiat Chrysler, Twitter, and Pacific Gas & Electric.