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Cinematic Insight: Cutting to Continuity in Presentations

Continuity cutting is one of the most commonly used methods in filmmaking and editing. It’s associated with maintaining the flow of a scene or action sequence to preserve the illusion of reality on screen.

Missing a small part of this technique can create lapses on a sequence of shots and angles, as well as frame size. In fact, even blockbuster movies fall victim to continuity errors, including Mel Gibson’s Braveheart.

Simon Gallagher, Executive Director at What Culture, reviewed the said historical drama epic film and revealed movie goofs that might have been overlooked during the editing phase. One example is when a crew member was seen wearing a baseball cap at the back of the Scottish warriors.

What’s the issue here? Sporty caps weren’t common yet in the 13th century, so this one badly compromised the period setting.

This explains the importance of cutting to continuity. Failure to establish coherence between shots distorts the illusion of realism, causing audiences to express disbelief.

How Does it Relate to Presentations?

Director shooting a film or movieThe purpose of continuity editing is to create smooth transitions between shots. Though this method is predominantly used in the film industry, it can also be applied in the context of presentations.

If movie scenes are expected to run seamlessly, necessary cuts are likewise important in presentations to achieve a better delivery. The consistency of actors’ costumes, make-up, setting, and props in movies have equal importance with the messages and ideas conveyed in a presentation.

Let’s delve deeper into continuity’s two transitional devices and how they’re associated to making professional speeches and presentations:

1. CutawayCutting to Continuity in Presentations: cut away

In film editing, a cutaway shot is an interruption of continuously filmed action by inserting a view of a secondary scene. For instance, a shot is focused in the dance performers on stage. Cutaways might consist of crowds, and cheering fans who are watching intently, applauding, and shouting for joy.

These shots may not be a primary part of the main scene, but it helps aid the storytelling process.

Cutaways can be equivalent to buffers inserted between topics in a presentation. Plugging in secondary information that’s not directly involved in your message helps build the story.

In your presentation, giving out product information is a vital step in selling to prospects and customers. But this one can’t always guarantee you a new deal. That’s why, like a cutaway scene, it helps to skip shortly on the product details, and briefly talk about something else.

For example, you can bring your audience’s attention to the challenge or situation they’re experiencing. Share scenarios that touch your customer’s concerns to make your message more relatable. This should be a problem that has not been addressed for them—or addressed well—yet.

2. Cut-inCutting to Continuity in Presentations: Cut-in

Another method used in cutting to continuity is cut-in. Unlike cutaways, cut-ins are close up shots of something visible in the main scene. They specifically show a part of the subject in detail.

Let’s say the main shot is centered around the dancers performing on the stage. The cut-ins could be a close-up shot of a dance crew member. It could be his face, feet and anything that highlights the actual performance.

What sets it apart from cutaway is that it focuses more on the parts of the main scene to create emphasis.

This cinematic style also works in presentations, especially if you want to emphasize important points in your pitch. If the former suggests inserting points that are relevant to the main idea, this one prioritizes going in-depth with the subject matter.

If you’re introducing your company’s newly launched product in a trade show, it’s ideal to demonstrate how it works. Go over all the product’s features and provide a little background information to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Perfect Take!Supporting Images - 4-01

Cutting to continuity may have been a unique method associated with filmmaking and video editing. But when put into context, this technique can also be applied in public speaking stints.

A controlled delivery of information is important in any kind of presentation, and that’s where continuity comes into play.

You can either choose between cutaway and cut-in, or you can also apply both at the same time.

Use cut-away when you want to condense an extended flow of action. This creates a buffer by sharing information that’s not directly involved with the subject but somehow relevant to it.

Try applying cut-ins to highlight the primary purpose of your speech. Delve into the necessary points, no matter how small or big the idea is.

Explore these film techniques and be amazed on how it helps you deliver your message!


“Continuity Cutting.” Integrated Publishing. n.d. Accessed January 26, 2016.

Gallagher, Simon. “10 Movie Mistakes You Won’t Believe Made It To Screen.” What Culture. November 5, 2012. Accessed January 26, 2016.

Ossohou, Eric. “The Art of Cutaway.” VideoMaker. February 1, 2008. Accessed January 26, 2016.

Three Presentation Lessons from the Big Screen

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