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Three Presentation Lessons from the Big Screen

August 15, 2014 / Blog, Lessons, Presentation Science, Rick Enrico Blog, Tips & Tricks movies, presentation lessons

Film is a powerful medium. We’ve all seen a movie that kept us at the edge of our seats long after the credits have rolled. Just like other methods of storytelling, it can offer audiences new information and fresh perspectives in a manner that’s engaging for them.

Now, why does that sound familiar? Because your presentations should do the same thing. Here are the top three presentation lessons you can learn from the big screen. Keep your audiences engaged and involved with a few key points.

Don’t be a Drag

The_Hobbit_-_The_Desolation_of_Smaug_theatrical_posterOne of the most important presentation lessons you need to learn is to be as concise as possible. Most movies run for a little less than two hours. In the same way, presentations vary in length, but it’s important that you keep it clear and straight to the point. Keep in mind your key points and main goals, then trim out the unnecessary details.

Take a lesson from the adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. The adaptation is three movies long, while the source material is only a single, 310-page book. This leaves the director, some pretty big narrative spaces to fill.

In order to keep your presentation focused, start your preparation by asking yourself some important questions.


  • What is the purpose of your presentation? What do you want to achieve with the information you’re sharing?
  • What is your presentation truly about? What is the main message you want your audience to take away?

Upon answering these questions, you can begin drafting an outline of your presentation. You’ll have a framework to keep your PowerPoint deck from ballooning to, say, 50 slides.

Always give a fresh perspective

similar themes - presentation lessons

There are movies that have pretty formulaic plots. Despite that, some of them still go on to become big blockbuster hits. The themes that James Cameron tackles in the movie Avatar are similar to those in the timeless classics Pocahontas and Tarzan, However, because he gives the movie a sci-fi setting and interesting new characters, he was able to add something that audiences haven’t seen before.

The same should be true for your presentation. Even if you’re set to report about your company’s finances, there’s still a way to give new life to the same old presentations people are used to seeing. Keep your audience engaged with good content and interesting visuals. Add a bit of personality to your presentation with some anecdotes.

Use metaphors and analogies to explain concepts your audience unfamiliar with. You can even add humor, if the situation allows it. Lastly, show your audience a PowerPoint deck that’s more than just bullet points and bad clip art. Read up on some of our past presentation lessons on how you can give your audience a great experience.

Focus on delivery just as much as you focus on content

Troy2004PosterThere are some movies that suffer from sloppy editing. While the original premise and the plot may seem interesting, the technical side of the movie keeps it from clicking with viewers.

Similarly, your delivery can make or break your presentation. You can have the best PowerPoint deck, coupled with interesting content. But if you mumble through your presentation and just read your slides, the attention of your audience will wander.

Practice your body language to show that you are full of energy. You should also make sure your voice sounds equally alive and engaged. Break monotonous sentences with voice inflection.

Always know that there’s inspiration to be found everywhere when it comes to improving your presentation.

The next time you’re seeing a movie with friends, take note of some presentation lessons you can apply to the board room.


Featured Image: John Drake via Flickr