Different ideas in a presentation aren’t a problem. The polarity between similar and dissimilar concepts creates a force that can be put to good use. In fact, both extremes are necessary in a presentation. They allow you to move from the familiar to the unfamiliar—and to cover several points of view. They create observable distinctions between your perspectives and your audience’s perspectives— this helps keep their attention. Though people are generally more comfortable with what’s familiar to them, conveying the opposite creates internal tension. Oppositional content is stimulating; familiar content is comforting. Together, these two types of content produce forward movement.

There are three distinct types of contrast you can build into a presentation:

  • Content: Content contrast moves back and forth to compare what is to what could be— and your views versus the audience’s.
  • Emotion: Emotional contrast moves back and forth between analytical and emotional content.
  • Presentation Delivery: Delivery contrast moves back and forth between traditional and nontraditional delivery methods.

Contrast is at the heart of communication because people are attracted to things that stand out.

As the polarized nature of magnetic fields can be used to generate electrical energy, polarity in a story seems to be an engine that generates tension and movement in the characters and a stirring of emotions in the audience.

-Chris Vogler

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