You’ve heard it said many time: a picture is worth a thousand words. Yes, and a picture can tell a story or at least help you tell it. When planning a presentation, determining the story that you want to tell includes picking the best photos to bring it alive.
This picture is perfect for the right story because it asks questions. It makes you wonder. Who lived here and why was it abandoned? Was there sickness? Did the well dry up? Were they simply better options somewhere else. And it’s a photo that sets as many moods as the many questions as it asks. Does it arouse feelings of isolation, depression or solitude and memory? It depends on how you look at it and the story you want to tell.
Every Story Needs Structure to Work.
We’ve been writing about how it is important to speak out in order to get ahead in a male-dominated workplace. Let’s assume that you’ve taken the leap and are ready to develop your presentation. How to begin?
Aristotle (yes, the Ancient Greek guy), determined that stories must have three acts. Screenplay, short story, novel, blog post, presentation – regardless of the platform, all stories must have a beginning, middle and end, he says. Each of these three acts must fulfill a specific purpose. If you don’t pay attention to these purposes your story will not satisfy. Why? Because one act leads to, builds upon, informs and feeds the other. Without this guidance and structure and rising stakes, your audience is confused, bored, left behind…
The purpose of act one is to set the ground work, lay out the current situation – the world as it is, the status quo before the journey begins, the place from whence the journey embarks. Act one is a statement the current situation so that the audience can understand what is working, what is not, where there is satisfaction, where there is discomfort. It foretells a need for change or danger or fragile happiness.
For an example, let’s tell a story using Lucia’s photo. A young couple gets a fresh start in Eastern Oregon in the late 1800’s. They build and plant and have child.
Act two launches from the end of act one with what is often called an inciting incident.This is a fancy phrase for an event that kicks off the journey, unsettles the status quo, makes it impossible not to move or opportune to begin to move, to explore, to experience, to solve.
So what is our inciting incident for our young couple? Their beloved baby dies in a terrible accident that could have been prevented by the mother.
Act two is where the action of the story takes place. Here is where you or your central character deals with the dangers, setback, confrontations and obstacles that successful completion of the journey requires.
Act two is the longest part of your story. It contains a series of difficult obstacles that must be overcome in order for the journey to continue. If, for instance, your act two is about how a young couple tries to continue to live their dream in the face of great tragedy, then it must contain every setback and difficulty that they encounter and how they prevail despite nearly losing over and over again. As screenwriter Craig Mazin says, you’ve got to torture your hero to make the journey as exciting and as entertaining as possible. Throw everything at them and make them struggle as hard as possible. In this particular scenario, it might contain dealing with money problems, depression, the breakdown of the relationship, etc., etc.
But why is all this necessary? Without an act two, the audience has no incentive to care about the problem, or the solution. Without an act two, they can’t follow your steps and engage with the pain of your various failures. And finally, act two peaks at the climax: the moment of success, the relief and resolution to the pain, the payoff and reward for the suffering.In our story, it might be that they leave for somewhere or divorce or have another child. The final picture in your presentation is the one above.
Act three is simple and short. It is the resolution that shows how the world improved or changed from where it was in act one. Act three is about contrast. It shows that the conflict overcome in act two leads to the change made from the situation in act one.
There are two reasons to use story in your presentation. One is to entertain and engage your audience, to keep them riveted to your presentation. The second purpose is to teach, inform, enlightened them to your process, your solution, your innovation, your reason for living. Find your story!
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