If you were asked to make a Hollywood Blockbuster would you hire a load of actors, buy some cameras, start filming and hope for the best? Yet that’s the equivalent of what most presenters do when they have to make a business presentation. As a result they fail, and get poor reviews. So what’s the alternative? Imagine you’re Spielberg and plan like they do in the movies.
Visit a Hollywood studio and you’d find that the planning stages of a movie starts years before the actual film is made. The writers start by getting the basic structure of the story together by drawing pictures of the main scenes. Having done that they write the words for each scene, decide how the words will be said, they rehearse, and finally they start filming. The process increases the chances of a box office smash. Isn’t that what you want for your business presentation, to increase the chances that it will be a blockbuster and you will be remembered?
I personally spent years learning how to plan and design presentations by listening to other presenters. It didn’t help; over the years I built up hours and hours of PowerPoint slides with no coherent structure, or story. But then I got lucky, I met a Hollywood actor who offered to help. Here’s what he taught me.
1. Plan your pitch: Start with basic premise of the story and then pose a question, if you had to write your whole presentation in one sentence what would it be. For example the basic premise of the film Jaws was “killer shark terrorizes small town, can one ordinary man kill it?
2. Storyboard your presentation: On the largest white board you can find, draw six boxes. In each of the boxes write out the answers to the question you just posed.
3. Develop the story: Under each of the answers – still within the box – make a note of your best piece of evidence to support each point.
4. Write the script: Go to your computer and open a word document. Write a page for each box. Head up each page with the point you want to make and then write about the evidence underneath. Note: leave a large margin.
5. Develop the script: Having completed a page for each point, print them off and underline the words you really want to emphasise. For example if one the words you really wanted to hit home was “profit” underline it.
6. Give stage direction: Using the margin, give yourself some stage direction i.e. how will you say the key word?
7. Rehearse: Practice.
8. Dress rehearse: Build your PowerPoint slides, and do another practice.
9. Film your blockbuster: Go for it, do your presentation.
You’re probably saying “that seems like a lot of work for a presentation”, and I guess you are right, for a simple business presentation it probably is, but if you want to make something worth seeing and talking about it’s worth the effort. So the next time you have to make a business presentation why not ask yourself this question: “If Spielberg was doing it, what would he do?”