Everyone wants to be an effective presenter. Everyone wants to WOW the audience. Everyone wants to be the presenter that people talk about, even after the presentation.

Well, that is good aspiration indeed. If great movies can captivate audience for 2 hours, you can also do it for 15 mins, as long as we incorporate key elements of movie-making into the presentations.

People generally follow norms like below and expect great end result. It would be like driving a rickshaw and expect to race against Ferrari.

  • Have lot of content on slides. Even put pictures/graphs/notes if possible.
  • Spend lot of time (generally 3 mins) on each slide.
  • Build story line and walk audience through it step-by-step.
  • Invite people to ask questions and use it to drive discussions.
  • Conclude with message and thank the audience for listening.

Well, it might work if you are just giving status updates or just having one of those drab town-hall meetings. Then, it makes you AVERAGE presenter just like others who follow similar script.

Great presenters take cues from movie-making and incorporate into their presentations.

Here is how you can also do it.

  1. First of all, know your script. Great movies are backed by amazing scripts. Such scripts offer food for thought to the audience. Do not consider the presentation as just  the opportunity to throw information. It is all about INSIGHTs. So, even if you are just giving status update, offer insight about how positive or negative outcome will impact big picture.   Are you making audience think ,  interpret or relate ?
  2. Back those insights with data or facts. It can be supporting or contradicting your insights. Great movies are made using much focused effort , taking care of such small details. Consider period drama for example, lot of effort goes into visualising characters, their attires and language as well as replicating surroundings. Do you know the presentation topic inside out ?
  3. Introduce ‘Entertainment’ factor. Great movie scripts are never linear. It is like pieces of puzzle coming together. It keeps audience on toes in anticipation. You can also introduce non-linear flows/ entertainment aspects in the presentation. Introduce those emotions in the presentation – Humour, Suspense etc. For example, you can even go with presenting conclusion (often last slide in traditional presentations) upfront and kill the suspense. Add such surprise elements in the presentation. Are you able to entertain the audience during presentation ?
  4. Generate and structure lot of content. Great movies are shot for much longer duration and edited to fit 2-hour footage. They are also fast-paced. So, what you get in the end is much truncated and refined output. Traditional wisdom of having as few slides as possible is useless. You should probably look to run 3-4 slides per minute, so that flow is fast and engaging for the audience. Are you able to churn 3-4 slides per minute to keep presentation fast-paced ?
  5. Keep slides focused on the message. It is similar to a shot in the movie focused on hero while blurring the background. Slides in the presentation should be just about the MESSAGE, rather than lot of text/graphs and pictures. If slide is too cramped with information, then there are enough chances that audience will be distracted. Are you presenting the message optimally ?

If you want to see these concepts in action, check out talk given by Prof. Scott Galloway and be blown away by it, literally. Especially, ‘Adele’ piece is a lot of fun !!!

Gang of Four: Apple / Amazon / Facebook / Google