Just like a movie engages an audience for hours, your
communications can have the same effect ó and most of the time, you donít even
By Ted Frank
When it comes to communicating ó whether it is a big
presentation, an email to your members, or revamping your marketing kit ó
youíre almost always faced with the same quandary: the need to communicate
insights, ideas, strategies, and policies, but also be memorable so your
audience is motivated enough to take your ideas into the real world.
A typical first move is to fill up on bullet points,
charts, and quick hits; but a more effective way is built on what works in a
conference room ó being simple, visual, and powerful ó and comes from a medium
thatís universally loved: movies.
Here are some ways to establish credibility and trust by
using movie-style storytelling, so your ideas are taken seriously and your
the three key points that matter most. Movie screenwriters are able to
write so quickly and powerfully because they start with three key scenes, then
build the rest of the movie around those moments. This keeps them out of the
weeds when writing, and enables an audience to remember and share with other
people. You can do the same thing; decide which three things are the most
important and emphasize those. It makes it easier to write your narration, and
you get to choose what people remember.
for clarity and recall, then cut more. Now that youíve got your three key
points, take another cue from movies and cut out what you donít need.
Screenwriters cut down a novel to 150-or-so pages, the director cuts down the
script, and finally, the editor cuts it all down to the story we see onscreen.
Most of the time, we donít miss those things that are cut. Seeing less detail
helps us absorb and remember the most important parts of the story. Grab a
colleague and tell him or her the three key points you want to establish, then
ask them to cut out anything that gets in the way. In my workshops, Iíve seen
people cut 80 percent from their partnerís piece, and their partners are always
grateful ó and never miss the weeds that got whacked.
your points through examples. Itís so much easier to understand and
remember a concept when itís seen or heard through an example. It helps us wrap
our heads around it. What makes it even more meaningful is capping it off with
the opportunity your point presents. Put the example and the opportunity together,
and youíll give them not only a story they can relate to, but also one they can
take with them and use.
you can make it visual, even better. Just like an example helps us grab
hold of it, seeing that example makes it even more clear. It also puts everyone
on the same page because we all see the same visual. A drawing or animation can
work, but an actual photo can be more effective because it depicts a real
thing, which is a more effective way for people to relate and believe.
to the emotional side. Whether itís laughter, tears, anger, or
exhilaration, youíve felt the compelling pull of emotions in movies. But for
some reason, when we get to the office and put together our PowerPoint,
newsletter, magazine, or whatever, we neglect this powerful tool. Speaking to
the rational side and simply informing can only take you so far. If you want
people to get behind you, inspire them and make them believe by engaging their
up for what you believe. One of the most profound ways people can raise the
level of their communication and establish authenticity is to get out from
behind the message and stand in front. Do your members know you and your staff
on sight? Show them there are people behind the message, not just just autonotoms.
Do that and youíre already a million times more engaging ó they see the words
coming from you, increasing your credibility, and showing that you believe in
your message enough to stand for it.
The good news is that screenwriters, directors, and other
master communicators of the movie industry have already created the
storytelling template for you. Simply follow their lead to engage your audience ó theyíll be inspired and motivated to
get onboard and invest in your associationís mission or cause.
Ted Frank (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the principal story
strategist at Backstories Studio and author of Get to the Heart, which shows professionals how to use movie-style