31 janeiro 2009

Structure your presentation like a screenplay

(That's exactly what I did, and it worked perfectly! But let me tell you the full story.)

This past week I had to build THE presentation for an interview process that I was participating in. Considering that the interviewers' reaction to this presentation would determine if I would get the job, and that getting the job would enable me to go work/live in US to be with my fiancée, get married and start a family... well, let's say it was a very important presentation. :)

I was struggling on this task when I saw this tweet from Tim Walker:

"Anybody wanna share tips on building good presentation decks? I'm working on a blog post about it."

After pondering about it for a while, this is what I replied:

"@TWalk My essencial thought on this is that you must tell a story through your presentation.. always.. This keeps people engaged. My 2 cents"

Little did I know that this reply would be the turning point on my presentation...

While I was going home on the night before the interview/preso, I had that moment of "Eureka!": why don't I follow my own recommendation and tell a story through my presenation?

To give a little more context to why this wasn't something so trivial to my mind, you should know that this presentation was about a very technical subject, including a few formulas and also involving some math (things like a base conversion from decimal to binary and a right shift). Ah, and I had only 20 minutes to present.

So, after this moment of enlightment, I began to structure my presentation like I would do with a screenplay, using a three act structure:

  1. Setup of characters (who is the protagonist? what are his/her motivations?)

  2. Conflict (introduction of an obstacle)

  3. Resolution

Translating this to my technical presentation, I used a case study approach, and it ended up structured like this:

  1. A potential customer has some business needs and contact your company, which decides to develop a proof-of-concept (POC) and you're the one left with this task

  2. You go to present it to the customer, who spot a "problem" (on their point of view) and you have little time to come up with good arguments

  3. After a step-by-step analysis of the problem, you have very good arguments to discuss it with the customer

(Looking at it now, it seems so simple)

In the end, what was the result of my interview/presentation? Even better than what I expected.

What did they like most? The structure. By using a case study and telling a story, it kept people engaged and interested (even though it was a Live Meeting presentation with only audio support).

So, here is my advice to you when you have a presentation to build: tell a story.

Because if it can work even for a very technical presentation, it definitely can work for you. :)

2 comentários:

Tim Walker disse...

Wow, Leonardo -- way to go!

I'm flattered that you would cite me as the inspiration, especially since you did all the hard work. ;) It's amazing how one little thought can trigger our creativity.

Great to hear about this . . . and good luck with everything!

Léo disse...

Thank you for the comment and for the best wishes, Tim!

Your tweet was indeed a fundamental trigger to my creativity!

It's really amazing how one small thing can have such a big impact in our life. :)