Presentations have the potential to hold an audience’s interest just like a good movie. You might be thinking that it takes years to write a successful screenplay, and you have a real job to do. But isn’t part of your “real job” to communicate ideas well, help people understand objectives, and persuade them to change? Building your presentations with some of the attributes from myths and movies will help your ideas resonate with others. To learn more about persuasive communication, explore the multimedia version of Resonate, and read on!

In great stories you meet a hero you can relate to. This hero is almost always likeable. He also has an intense desire or goal that is threatened in one way or another. As the story progresses, you root for him as he successfully confronts his trials and tribulations until he is finally transformed and the story is resolved. As Author Robert McKee explains in his book Story, “Something must be at stake that convinces the audience that a great deal will be lost if the hero doesn’t obtain his goal.” If nothing is at risk, then it’s not interesting.

The pattern of your presentation communications is similar. There’s a goal you must reach, but you have to overcome trials and resistance to succeed. However, when you realize your desire, you will gain remarkable results.

One reason presentations are so boring is that they lack recognizable story patterns. The following pages analyze two story models that are considered by the film industry to be basic for creating a good screenplay. When you apply them, they’ll help you develop your message and discover the potential for storytelling in your presentations. These forms work! Rather than relying on set formulas or rigid rules, they focus on structure and character transformation. Because they’re flexible, they don’t stifle creativity.

Once you’ve been shown these story forms from Hollywood, you’ll be introduced to a form that’s similar, but designed specifically to help presenters: The Presentation Form.

Presentation Story Pattern

The most simplistic way to describe the structure of a story is situation, complication, and resolution. From mythic adventures to recollections shared around the dinner table, all stories follow this pattern.

a Hero's Journey chart comparing 3 movie characters

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