Thursday, August 7, 2014

Story vs PowerPoint

Robert McKee is a screenwriting lecturer and story consultant.  He is best known in the television and movie industries for his Story Seminar.  Over 60 Academy Award winners and 170 Emmy Award winners have attended his class to better improve their craft.

Story in business

In addition to story seminars that focus on drama and comedy for entertainment, Robert McKee also conducts a one-day seminar oriented to incorporating story into the business environment.

Where is the power in Powerpoint?

In a recent post on his blog, Robert McKee addressed the following question:
How would you recommend that I weave a story into PowerPoint presentations?

Rarely persuasive

In reality, according to McKee, PowerPoint slide presentations "rarely persuade."  He goes on to say that this is really counter-intuitive to key activities in business:
  • managers persuading employees to complete tasks and achieve productivity goals
  • managers persuading executive (c-suite) leadership to provide support
  • companies persuading customers and clients to engage in the company's services or purchase the company's products

3 ways to persuade others: rhetoric, coercion, story

  1. Using rhetoric, which is the typical use of slides, the audience is bombarded with data, in the hope that enough data will convince them to accept the conclusion or buy the product.
  2. With coercion, the audience is bribed or manipulated into buying the product or service.  The problem with coercive efforts is that people generally don't like to be tricked or duped, the win may be short term.
  3. With story, you can present a more honest picture where you present crisis points in your business, actions that you took, and the result of those actions.  Thus, by incorporating a few stories of crisis/action/success, you can help your audience understand why your business is the right solution for them.

Robert McKee's best advice in the video is to "if possible, eliminate PowerPoint."  However, when this is not possible because of a corporate expectation that slides must be used, you can still intersperse the crisis-action-results narrative with the data.

If you would like to learn more about Robert McKee's approach, visit his website at or check out his book, Story.

No comments:

Post a Comment