Filmmaking probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about your business PowerPoint, but the two have much more in common than you’d first realise.

Like a film, a presentation is a form of storytelling: the template acts as the set, each slide is a different scene in the story, and ‘characters’ mount the action. The problem in the story becomes the villain of the piece and the dramatic climax comes when key issues are resolved.

Business PowerPoint and Film

business powerpoint

PowerPoint has been given a bad reputation, which has led to many organisations ditching it altogether.

But it’s not the application itself that’s to blame, it’s people’s improper use of it.

The below tips from the world of filmmaking will enable you to rethink your approach to PowerPoint and start delivering presentations that excite and engage your audience.

Tell a Powerful Story

Filmmaking doesn’t start out with cameras and actors. First, a film requires a compelling script. So why fire up PowerPoint and start inserting your content without proper thought for narrative structure?

Storytelling has been an integral part of human culture as far back as we can trace for good reason: when digesting a story, multiple parts of the brain are activated and retention increases dramatically.

So if you want your audience to remember what you said, use of storytelling is a good bet. Give you presentation a dramatic structure with beginning, middle and end: set the scene with exposition, create audience investment using conflict, then build towards critical points where the action takes place. Then finish with a meaningful resolution that drives home your key message.

Make the Most of Sequencing

After the script has been written and photography has wrapped up, a film’s components are amalgamated in the editing room to produce the final version that viewers see. And PowerPoint works surprisingly similarly: story and content are established first, then layouts are created to hold this material – which is subsequently delivered to an audience.

Once you’ve decided on key messages and content, you’ll want to figure out the running order of your slides. But what makes sense written in long form won’t always translate effectively into slide visuals, meaning time-consuming edits and changes that many business PowerPoint users see as inevitable.

You’ll be happy to hear that it doesn’t have to be that way: you can save yourself time and stress by establishing your slide running order before you even open PowerPoint. A great tip is to sketch out the content of each slide onto post-it notes and place them in the chosen order. This will allow you to gauge the scope of your presentation in a tangible way, and means you can chop and change content without the needing to edit final layouts later.

Communicate Information Using Mise-en-Slide

Mise-en-scène (‘place on stage’) is a piece of film jargon that refers to the visual composition of a scene, incorporating lighting, dressing, props and even the positioning of the actors to evoke information about tone and setting. Your business PowerPoint should do the same thing.

Your slides shouldn’t just contain messaging – they should add to it. Make use of graphic elements that chime well with and enhance your material. Choose the best colours for your presentation based on your brand and content, use presentation fonts that match what you’re saying, and ensure all designs are consistent by using a PowerPoint template and slide master.

Take Advantage of Dramatic Timing

‘What happens next?’ is the most compelling question that drives all plots forward. It keeps film audiences engaged and enables the resolution to deliver appropriate satisfaction. It’s also what you want your audience to be asking themselves as your business presentation keeps them on the edge of their seats.

The format of PowerPoint is such that it reveals one piece of information at a time, lending itself perfectly to building multiple layers of messaging, creating cliff-hangers and pulling off dramatic reveals.

When presenting, work your story up to critical points, then use PowerPoint to reveal a slide with surprising or key information that will have a real impact on your audience.