Lights, camera, action: presentation tips from the movies
A great movie can have a powerful effect on its audience, not only provoking debate and dialogue, making headlines and winning awards, but sometimes even bringing about permanent societal change. We’re talking big bucks too – the worldwide cinema box office is worth US$38.6 billion – so, when it comes to presentation tips, there are fewer better places to look for inspiration than the film business.
- Tell a compelling story
The best films grab your attention from the opening sequence and don’t let go until the closing credits. Whether your presentation is five or fifty minutes long, make every frame (slide) matter. Create a story arc which draws your audience in and keeps their interest for the duration. Great presentations have a thread running through them which ties all the elements together and takes the audience on a journey which is both captivating and memorable.
- Make sure it looks amazing
Presenting is a visual medium so don’t just rely on the words you’re saying to keep your audience’s attention. Think carefully about how each slide looks and the images you use. Great graphics and beautiful imagery will help to convey your messages more effectively and ensure all eyes are on you and what you’re saying. Think about the colour scheme and the layout too, using white space effectively to make colours and photography really ‘zing’. Choose a font which is easy to read and appropriate to your content (and it should NEVER be Comic Sans!). Check the details too: is the logo correct, are the photographs sharp and well-cropped?
- Edit, edit, edit
A great movie is edited to perfection, and some directors spend almost as much time in the cutting room as they do filming. Similarly with presenting, less is so often more. Don’t bamboozle your audience with too much information but rather, keep your message simple and your delivery sharp. You can always follow up afterwards with more background material, or secure another meeting to dive into the detail. For more assistance with editing a presentation, click here.
- Rehearsals matter
Unless you’re an improv genius, rehearsing your presentation is hugely important. It’s the bit which is so often missed out (admit it, you sometimes edit your slides in the taxi on the way to the meeting…) but can make a massive difference to the effectiveness of your presentation. Part of conquering presenting nerves is to know your material, so memorise your script, practise the physical movements of delivering your presentation and put your performance hat on. Schedule time for a run-through and invite a colleague or two to act as ‘pitch doctor’ and be your audience. Ask them to give you constructive feedback so you can tweak and improve before performing for real.
- Do it like you mean it
Francis Ford Coppola, one of the all-time great movie directors, describes filmmaking as “a game you should play with all your cards, and all your dice, and whatever else you’ve got. So, each time I make a movie, I give it everything I have. I think everyone should, and I think everyone should do everything they do that way.” This may seem like overstating it when it comes to presenting, but really it’s not. With a presentation you often only get one shot at making an impression, so do it properly. It pays to be organised with your material, so consider how you can manage resources and ensure that all your slides are top-notch. For larger organisations or those with a sizeable sales and marketing team, using an app like Presenter can be invaluable. You can create and manage your presentation library with ease and, with built-in data capture and interactivity, each presentation gives you a host of useful management information too.
If you want to make sure your next presentation is a box office blockbuster, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d be happy to assist.