Six Ways to Make Your Presentation a Hit

Guest post by Ted Frank

Scientists say our
attention spans are now shorter than a goldfish, so it’s more important than
ever to make our presentations as engaging and compelling as possible. How can
we do that?  One way is by taking cues
from the place that can still captivate us for hours at a time: the movies.

Storytelling: In the way execs have wanted it all along

storytelling is actually a perfect fit for corporate presentations because it’s
built on the same principles we’ve all been seeking from presentations: being
simple, quick, visual and powerful. But the best news is that you can get a lot
of movie power without even using video. Here are a few tips to make your next
presentation a hit.

1. Find the three key points that matter mostScreenwriters are able to write so quickly and powerfully because they start with three key scenes, then build the rest of movie around those. This not only keeps them out of the weeds when writing, but it will make it easier for us to remember and share it with other people. Business people can do the same thing: decide what three things are most important and emphasize those. It will make it easier to write your presentation, and will enable you to choose what people remember. If you evenly emphasize ten points, who knows what they’ll remember.

2. Cut out what you don’t need
Now that you’ve got
your key story, take another cue from movies and cut what you don’t need.
Hollywood calls it “killing your babies,” but in truth, few in Hollywood kill
their own. Screenwriters cut the novel to 150-or-so pages, the director cuts
down the script, and then finally, the editor cuts it all down to the story we
see on screen.

And you know what? Most of the time, we don’t miss those cuts one bit. Because
having less detail often helps us absorb and remember the most important parts
of the story. So grab a colleague close enough to your work to understand it,
but far enough from your weed pile. Tell him or her the three key points you
want your stakeholders to remember, then ask them to cut anything that gets in
the way. In my workshops, I’ve seen people cut 80% from their partner’s deck,
and their partners are always, always grateful.

3. Tell those points through example stories We all know how much easier it is to understand and remember a concept when we hear or see it through an example. The example helps us grab hold of it. So unless your point is so simple a kid can understand it, always look for a way to describe it through an example. And then, cap it off with the opportunity your point presents to your stakeholders. Put the example and the opportunity together and you give them not only a story they can relate to, but also one they can use.

4. If
you can make it visual, even better

Just like an
example helps us grab hold of it, seeing that example makes it even more clear.
It also puts everyone on the same page because we all see the same visual. And
while we normally gravitate toward a drawing or animation, a photo can actually
be more helpful because photos depict real things, and that makes it even
easier for stakeholders to relate and believe.

5. Speak to the emotional side
We all know how
powerful emotions pull on us, otherwise, no one would own a sports car or SUV.
But for some reason, when we get to the office and pull out our PowerPoint, we
forget about emotion. The truth is that no matter where we are, we are
influenced by our emotions. So speaking to the rational side and informing can
only take you so far. If you want people to get behind you, you have to inspire
them and make them believe, and that all comes by engaging their emotional

6. Stand up for what you believeOne of the most profound ways people can raise the level of their presentation is to get up from behind the projector and stand in front of the screen. Do that and you’re already a million times more engaging. First, because they see the words come from you, which increases your credibility, solely because it shows you believe in your message enough to stand for it.
But it also enables you to enhance your communication through gestures and body language. You can even emulate one of the most powerful shots in movies: the dolly-push. When you want to make your big point, walk slowly toward your stakeholders like a dollied camera and you’ll feel all the power movies bring to their heroes.

is the principal
story strategist at Backstories Studio.
His book, Get to the Heart, shows
professionals how using movie-style storytelling can make presentations clear,
compelling, and c-suite ready. Follow him on Twitter @backstoriestv.