Home » Blog » Presentation Storytelling – What Would Pixar Do?

Few things unite people like cinema. A straw poll across the Eyeful team showed that we all missed that wonderful collective experience of sitting in a dark room and immersing ourselves in a powerful story when ‘deep lockdown’ regulations forbade it.

As storytelling geeks, we have nothing but respect for the masters of story, Pixar. After all, it takes great talent and skill to have audiences sobbing into their (overpriced) popcorn in the first five minutes of ‘Up’ and then manage to pick them up and take them on a rip-roaring journey for the rest of the film. Bravo.

But what about us corporate storytellers? What can we take from Pixar and bring to our next presentation, video or other comms piece? A quick Google search throws up a vast array of Pixar storytelling techniques posts, but, frankly, we think that the exhaustive lists are missing the point. The secret to a great Pixar story – in fact, any story – is that they are about change.

Think about it. From ‘Toy Story’ to ‘Luca’, Pixar takes their audiences on a journey from point A to B.
A challenge thrown down…and then defeated. The protagonist is transformed over the course of the film. We empathise. We’re hooked. It works.

The good news is that this is a powerful guiding principle for any corporate storyteller. Rather than throwing countless slides of corporate noise at your audience (yes, we’re talking about Death by PowerPoint), take your audience by the hand and share a story of change. Make it about the outcome/destination/result – you choose.

If this all sounds a bit um, fluffy, worry not. It really is very simple. Consider the following for your corporate presentations:

Option 1 – Content Information Share

Start: This is who we are (credibility). Tell-tell signs are slides featuring maps highlighting office locations, details on turnover, and customer ‘logo-soup’ visuals.

Middle: This is what we do (features/benefits). Typically this is a deep dive into specific products with a long list of features, and the odd benefit dropped in here and there.

End: What now? (conclusion). Concluding with a ‘Thank you for your time. Any questions?’

Option 2 – Outcome-Based Presenting (Audience Focused & Story Based)

Start: Here’s a challenge – recognise it? How does that make you feel? Approaching your presentation as an opportunity to demonstrate empathy and common ground. An invaluable way to prompt conversation and interaction

Middle: Here are your options/fork in the road – tricky, isn’t it? Here’s the approach we’d recommend…and this is how it works out (perhaps illustrate with an example?) Subtext: We’ve been here before and supported customers in a similar position/with similar challenges, but rest assured our focus is on YOU.

End: This is the destination of your journey. Look where we’ve ended up. What have you learned? What’s changed? How has the outcome ‘vanquished the challenge’?

Now, of course, we can’t guarantee that your next presentation story is going to have your audience in tears in the same way we all were when watching ‘Up’ (in truth, this might be a bad sign for a sales presentation!). However, connecting with an audience and then taking them on an outcome-based journey will get you closer to their needs, demonstrate greater empathy, and, ultimately, deliver better results.

And, just to reiterate, results are what your corporate communications are all about, right?


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