Presentation Tip: Give It a Plot!

presentation tipWhen Martin Scorsese won his long-awaited Oscar® two weeks ago, he joked that The Departed was his first film that actually had a plot.

What do Marty and marketers have in common?  Stories.  Great plot or not,
we’re all in the business of telling stories.

We tell stories in campaigns and sales materials.  When we meet with colleagues to go through recommendations and proposals.  And of course when we present to prospects, partners or our entire companies.

When you’re watching a movie, it’s really hard to connect with a story that wanders this way and that, introduces a ton of ideas, is riddled with bullets and fails to build to a rousing conclusion.  You may walk out liking the film, but did you rave about it to family and friends?  Maybe.  Or maybe not.

Like most great films, terrific presentations have a strong plot.  And whether you’re leading an informal discussion or standing at a podium, you’ll be more persuasive and memorable when you treat your presentation as if it’s a story that you care about.  It’s easier to remember your key points and you’ll sound more natural when you’re telling a story instead of reading a pile of slides.

And you’ll be a lot more persuasive as a result.

Presentation Tip – How to Create a Plot

So next time you open PowerPoint to create a new presentation or modify an old one, take a look at the story you’re about to tell.  Your presentation should have:

  • A hook that gets your audience involved right off the bat – BAM!
  • A series of key story points (benefits) that take your audience on a journey and keep building their interest
  • An exciting conclusion that your audience will care about

Once you have those elements in mind, don’t just start churning out bullets in PowerPoint.  It’s too easy to use your deck as a crutch.  If the words are there, we’re tempted to read rather than to engage.  The meeting turns into a soliloquy.  Thus the term “death by PowerPoint.”

Instead, think like a film director and create a storyboard for your presentation.  Rather than just typing up slides, map out your hook, your key story points and your conclusion.  Then fill in the details with diagrams, phrases and images that will bring your story to life.

With this simple shift, you can change your presentations from run-of-the-mill to award winners.  And while you may never walk a red carpet, you’ll win more support for your ideas and have more fun in the process.

In my next post, I’ll offer tips to help you with the storyboarding process.  In the meantime, here’s some additional presentation tips:

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