A good way to spruce up a PowerPoint presentation is to add a narrative structure. A common mistake of beginning presenters is to forget structure completely and just rattle off a bunch of information, regardless of flow, timing, or good sense. A nice way to combat this tendency is to think about the elements of storytelling.
You probably remember a diagram similar to the one below from your high school English class.
Many people mistake the “Rising Action” and “Falling Action” for actual physical action. I.E., the characters gradually get more and more hyper, running faster and faster until the climax, when everything slows down until the end. While this is true of some stories, it’s not necessarily what is going on. When you hear “action”, think “dramatic tension”. As the tension rises, the audience wants what they were promised in the exposition more and more until they get their payoff in the climax, while loose ends get tied up as we fade to the end.
This basic story model can be used for your presentations as well, especially when you throw cutout characters into the mix. A character puts a human face on the subject, someone you can latch onto and vicariously explore the topic through.
Perhaps you are making a corporate presentation on workplace etiquette. If so, consider this scenario involving our cutout character Christine.
We meet Christine at the beginning of the saga. Somebody has stolen her yogurt out of the break room fridge. How inconsiderate! This kicks the story into motion, and is accentuated by the look of frustration on Christine’s face.
Christine thinks for a moment. “Who was just telling me they love yogurt? Didn’t Gary say something about enjoying cultured dairy products?”
“That’s it!” Christine exclaims. “Gary stole my yogurt!”
Christine marches over to Gary’s desk in accounting to find that not only has he eaten her yogurt, but also the entire plate of cookies that Janice brought in. Those were for everyone!
“How could you be so greedy, Gary?!” Christine shouts. “You’re not the only one in this office who eats!”
Christine takes a moment to collect herself and heads to HR, to calmly and genially explain her frustration with Gary’s conduct, and his large case file of abuses against break room property.
At last, Gary’s reign of terror has ended, having been relocated to the fifth floor of the office. Christine basks in the glory, knowing that justice has finally been served, celebrating with a smooth and creamy strawberry yogurt.
Notice how the Christine’s facial expressions drew you further into the story, allowing you to relate to Christine’s plight. This simple trick can allow you to humanize any manner of scenarios in your next PowerPoint presentation, whether they be as goofy or mundane as this one, or something with an actually serious subject matter.
You can find Christine and our other cutout characters in the Cutout People library. Download today and make your next presentation a slam dunk!