Almost anyone can deliver a standard presentation … and they will probably achieve a ‘standard’ result. But if you want to really win your audience over you absolutely must tell a story. Writer/teacher Robert McKee is the author of the what is widely regarded as the bible of screenwriting
His students have won more than 20 Academy awards and over 100 Emmy awards for writing. So it seems he knows a thing or two about creating compelling content. In June 2003 Robert co-authored an article in the Wall Street Journal. In the article the WSJ concluded “Forget about Powerpoint and statistics. To involve people at the deepest level you need stories”
You can download a copy of the entire interview between Robert and HBR’s Bronwyn Fryer by clicking here
Those principles have been followed famously by the advertising industry to not only get information across, but most importantly to do it in a way that persuades.
Here’s a great clip from the excellent TV series Mad Men that shows exactly what I mean.
Madison Avenue learned a long time ago that simple recitation of facts, do not make a persuasive argument, particularly in a crowded market. So it would have a waste of everyone’s time for Don to present boring flip charts of statistics on market demographics … not that supporting evidence may not be needed later … but it does not form the basis of your presentation.
Instead he slays them with a highly emotional, highly personal insight into his own life which is in fact … a story. Note also that the whole pitch from ‘lights down’ runs for less than two minutes. If he ran on for 15 minutes it would have been boring. When you distill the time, you concentrate the power … like reducing a sauce in a pan concentrates flavour.¬† So what are the take aways ?
Craft your presentations.
Don’t be afraid to let a little of yourself into the pitch.
Shorter is better.
How are your presentations ? Are they full of dry facts, or are they presentations that resonate, that inspire, that dare to fail, that deliver an unexpected and persuasive punch ?
Break a leg.