that you have unlimited resources to design a speech that will make you the
hottest commodity on the market, inspire your sales force, or close more sponsorships.
Where would you go to get the best, highest-priced writers and directors in the
What makes a good Hollywood movie? Exactly the same principles that make a
great keynote speech, executive presentation, and sales conversation.
you probably don’t need the unlimited resources to hire an Oscar-winning writer
and director, you can adapt these seven basic Hollywood techniques to increase
the impact of your keynote speeches, business presentations, and persuasive
Embrace the creative process. The late, great comedian George Carlin said,
"Creating a great speech or comedy routine is more like going on a field trip
than working in a laboratory.” What he meant was, the creative process is
messy, more free-flowing, so just embrace it. Forget the PowerPoint. That’s
tidy. With a yellow pad, a flip chart, a whiteboard, just list or mind map what
content could go in your presentation. You want stories, examples, quotes,
statistics, your association’s message, and member successes. Then organize the
structure of your presentation in a conversational and logical way and add the
visuals. Special effects are not consulted until the "storyboard” is created.
Consider collaborating. Collaboration is the norm in Hollywood, and it can
work for association communicators no matter what their audience or venue. In
Hollywood you have directors, producers, actors, set designers, makeup artists,
and editors who all work together. If you are a sales professional making a big
sale, a publisher who wants to inspire the staff, a speaker who’s keynote
speech is setting the tone for a convention, remember that it is often
difficult to be creative in isolation. Who can help? Do you have a mastermind
group or brainstorming committee, speaking buddies, team members, a sales
manger, or mentor?
Start with a great story. We all love stories, and whenever we hear one,
subconsciously we feel it is a luxury. With your association stories, identify
your main theme, premise, or purpose—your plot—and any subplots. For example, a
recently promoted retail executive found that a week after his promotion, he
was invited to speak at the company sales meeting to 500 young store managers.
His challenge was to inspire the managers to embrace a program to get employees
to contribute money-saving ideas.
walked on stage, looked at the audience, and said, "We are here to talk about
heroes.” In seven words, he proved that his was not another dull, corporate
speech. "They may be sitting in front of you. They may be sitting behind you.
They may be you. In the trenches heroes!”
then added some Hollywood drama with characters, dialogue, and an everyday
hero. He found a story about a young man in the shipping department who noticed
that he was shipping seven company newsletters to the same location on the same
day in separate packets. This mailroom hero asked if he could package them
together with a note requesting distribution at the other end. That year his
idea saved the company $200,000. Relating the money to something specific, he
explained "$200,000 is 18 miles of shelving.” That added specificity and color
to the story. Statistics will not stick if they are not compared to something
memorable. Your audience remembers what they "see” while they hear.
Begin with a flavor scene. Good movies open with what is called a "flavor
scene,” grabbing attention and positioning the audience for what is to come. A
senior scientist grabbed the interest of a breakfast club audience by
beginning: "Being a scientist is like doing a jigsaw puzzle, in a snow storm…at
night…when you don’t have all the pieces…or the picture you are trying to create.”
Everyone sat up and paid attention, they realized that they could understand
and relate to the challenges and frustration of a scientist.
teams start their presentations with "Good morning. My name is John Smith.
Thank you for your time. I am with the ABC Association. We have been serving
our industry for 26 years and are known for our …” The audience is thinking:
"So what? Who cares? What’s in this for us?” Don’t start by talking about your association.
Create the "flavor scene” first.
flavor scene doesn’t necessarily have to lead where the audience expects it to,
but it should make an impact, and it must tie in to what follows.
Create captivating characters and construct vivid dialogue. Gone with
the Wind doesn’t begin with historical background on the Civil War.
Instead, we find Scarlett O’Hara sulking about the impending conflict that
might interfere with her social life. Immediately, we observe her frivolous,
shallow, fun-loving personality. Characters establish themselves by their
decisions and actions. The sooner this happens, the sooner the audience gets
it’s a conference presentation or a sales call, your audience would rather hear
from "flesh and blood characters” who have overcome the same obstacles they now
face. Add a "back story” to your speeches. Always use the "character’s”
dialogue to talk about their situation. You can tell the prospect what your
solution was in your words; the success needs to be in the client "character’s”
6. Remember scene changes. Early in
nearly every movie we are introduced to a day in the life of our protagonist.
Then something happens! The lead character overcomes one challenge and runs
right into another. This involves scene changes. The movie literally moves from
point to point, maintaining interest by changing settings, focal points,
emotions, and energy levels.
biggest enemy of a speaker, no matter how good, is lack of variety. Each time
you move from story to story or example to example, this is a scene change. Use
variety to keep your audience interested.
Provide a lesson learned. All great films—and speeches—have a message. When
preparing a presentation, ask yourself: "If you had one sentence rather than 45
minutes, what would you say?” The purpose is to simplify and clarify your
central theme. Even with a complex subject or proposal, make sure you can you
explain it simply.
are always compelling. Most people ask "Does the audience really what to hear
these stories?” Yes! We are all motivated when we see the life lessons beyond
the business message.