E45. Master the Hollywood Secrets of Presentation with Ted Frank
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Francisco Mahfuz 0:00
Hi everyone, Francisco here. Just before we get started, I wanted to share something I'm really excited about. I recently launched the story powers bootcamp, a course that teaches you everything you need to know about how to find craft and tell stories that work. But it's not just an online course, because you get personalised feedback from me for all the practical activities in three hours of life coaching to work through any challenges, or focus on specific projects. So it's like if you bought a cookbook, but the chef came along with it. So go to story powers.com and click on Course, all the information you need will be there. So please check it out. And if you love the show, and would like to support us, you can go to buy me a coffee.com forward slash story powers. I drink about five coffees a day, so any support would be much appreciated. All right on with the show.
Welcome to the story powers podcast, the show about the power of stories, the people who tell them and why you should be doing it too. I'm your host, keynote speaker and storytelling coach Francisco mahfuz. My guest today is Ted Frank. In decades of working corporations, he got tired of seeing great ideas go to waste, and people losing their sense of purpose because they couldn't present successfully. Now Ted runs his own strategic story consulting firm teaching people movie storytelling techniques to get to the heart of their audiences. The company he works with make cars like Porsche and Fiat Chrysler, they make toilet paper like Georgia Pacific in they make shows about cars and toilet paper like Netflix. I've already learned a lot from him. But I must admit that his book made me a little nervous when he filled many of the first pages with detailed instructions on how to put together in elite baby killing squad. Ladies and gentlemen, Dad Frank. Welcome to the show.
Ted Frank 2:00
Oh, it is so good to see you. And I say see you because normally when I do these podcasts, I can't see the person. And it was like being behind the curtain and seeing all the magic. Now
Francisco Mahfuz 2:11
that you've you've already started us with with a movie reference. I wanted to ask, what is this rumour I hear that your last name has a relation to Frankenstein?
Ted Frank 2:23
Actually, that is that is my proper last name or was my my grandparents proper last name. And I think what happened was like right around the time when the movie came out in about the 30s, they were probably getting too much flack. And they went to the courthouse and they shortened it down to Frank. And then funny thing was that when I got married the first time I decided to take my ex wife's last name. And my father was not happy about that. So you know, he confronted me on it. And I said, you know, you guys changed your last name, you know, and it all worked out? And that shut him up. Good.
Francisco Mahfuz 2:57
I'm not sure it's quite the same thing. But a fair enough. One of the things that that I wanted to get out right at the beginning, is because a lot of the stuff we're going to talk about is why presentations suck, and how you approach making them better. So before I give my take on that, why do you think presentation suck? Well, I
Ted Frank 3:24
think presentations probably for a lot of the same reasons you feel as well, which is that you're asking way too much of the audience. And way too much, let's say in my world is which is the corporate world of the executives and the senior managers that are coming in this room, they have probably had already six or seven meetings that day, they've watched chart after chart after chart, probably hundreds, maybe even 1000 charts that day, and to go subject them to more charts and more text, heavy slides and more really hard work for their brains and their eyes to go through. It's just too much for them. And it's it's, you know, it's no wonder that they all zoned out on their phones, or they you know, leave the room not remembering a lot of the
Francisco Mahfuz 4:06
time. Yeah, it's interesting, because that that approach is one that I think you reference, that expression or that book title of drinking from the firehose, in this idea of just being overwhelmed. And drowning in information is clearly one of the typical problems that people come across with, with presentations, particularly the more technical type of presentations, I come across a different when I come across that problem, but I come across a different type of problem as well, which is this idea that every presentation needs to be backed up by a slide deck, which for now, one will call PowerPoint for simplicity because everyone recognises that more easily than slide deck in they think that they need to have slides. They don't necessarily know what those slides need to be is not a whole bunch of technical information that probably they have to present some some way or another. And then what you end up getting is either the classic headline with bullet points, or you get, even when you get images, it becomes this thing of I cannot say anything that is not backed up by as light. Because I think I can forgive more easily a technical presentation that has graphs that a sales presentation that has the exact words you're saying on the screen. Or you say, when we look at millennials picture of millennials, when we talk to boomers, picture of boomers, it's okay people can hear what you're saying they don't need to, to see everything, particularly in it's not adding. And then in my world, what tends to happen is just people become it becomes a crutch, people read it. And whatever presentation skills they had to begin with go down the drain, I tend to go down this extreme route that most people shouldn't have any PowerPoint in, I want to defend that that's not what I want to talk to you about. But I just wanted a quick take from you on why you think that in the vast majority of cases of the people you work with, that's not really an alternative.
Ted Frank 6:07
You know, I in the corporate world, it is definitely expected. And it's kind of the default. But you're absolutely right, it's definitely not necessary. And when you can do without PowerPoint, you should absolutely do it. I'll give you a perfect example for that in a minute. But first, I kind of wanted to hit on one of the things that you brought up the end, why it's so awful, you talked about putting text on the slide, and putting a lot of text on the slide and you said reading the slide. When people do that, it really does them a disservice. Because if you're the executive sitting watching that presentation, your eyes can read that across the screen far quicker than the person can say it. So when the person says it, and they're reading it, unless they read it really, really fast that executives eyes and ears are out of sync. And that requires them requires their brain to have to put it all together. And it's more work. The reason why, you know we might do things like show a millennial, when we have when we say millennial is that it puts everybody on the exact same page. And we now have a visual reference for who that millennial is, and especially if you're going to bring people back to that millennial and that millennial becomes a hero, let's say in the presentation, it really helps. You know, because in corporate culture, people have hundreds and 1000s of things to think about all the time, especially if you're an executive. making it as easy as possible is so helpful for them.
Francisco Mahfuz 7:33
Why I spoke to another speaker called James Taylor, he was one of the first episodes on the podcast and a friend someone I work with. And he believes the visuals are what people remember, I disagree. I think it's the story that people remember. So my my view is that if you're comparing someone up, they're doing a story based presentation with no PowerPoints with someone doing the reasonably competent presentation and a whole bunch of visuals on the PowerPoint, but not necessarily connected to the story, not the stuff you do. So let's call it let's say a competent, regular type of PowerPoint presentation. I think that a story based presentation with no deck is going to beat that hands down every time you do it. Well, what I don't know, is if a story based visual presentation would always beat the story based presentation with no deck.
Ted Frank 8:22
Well, that totally depends, I think on the person either telling the story or the person presenting it. If you're a skilled storyteller, like yourself, or Garrison Keillor, or you know, any of the people who do it really, really well, yes, you you can visually you can evoke visuals and people's brains, they don't need anything else. And the voice, your voice is just amazing. Like, you know, and I listened to a podcast called This American Life with iron glass, that is one of the most captivating podcasts ever, but not everybody's got those skills. And you know, you know, from, you know, making the split your life's work, how much talent and how much work went into it, and how much discipline you have to have when you tell a story. And I've found that that's often asking a lot of the average person. So you know, we sometimes they need that crutch. And if that crutch can make it just make them more compelling, and can make it easier on the person who's watching it, probably if it's good enough, but I kind of also want to hit another point, which is that there's storytelling, but the most powerful thing you can do is what I call story staging. And that's where you make your whoever's watching the actual hero of the story, and they experience everything. And that is even more powerful than any of the other things and
Francisco Mahfuz 9:39
I want to get into that. But let me let me just ease us into it. And as a from a slightly different way, we've agreed that most presentations suck. And you came across this in your previous work where a lot of great ideas never follow through and never got developed. Because when it came to selling those concepts, people couldn't do it. Well. So you said Just figuring out that storytelling might be the answer. And one thing I don't think we need to do is bang on about why storytelling is the answer. Because then anyone listening to this podcast probably has heard that from me a million times, but you said something in your book, which I wanted to pick you up on is you said, when people try to do storytelling, it's either too difficult, or often it's too difficult, or hokey. So I just wanted you to explain why, you know, just give me an example of what you mean by either the too difficult or the Hokey type of storytelling.
Ted Frank 10:31
Yeah, well, the two difficult is kind of like, you know, what, what I just hit on before, but the too hokey is when people had a, let's say, a hero to the story that seems like it's artificial, like they they started their presentation with meet Francisco, you know, he's a podcast, you know, he's a podcast journalist, and a story at storyteller in Barcelona, and then they give you like, 30 seconds of Francisco. And none of that is really important. So then, you know, then they keep really forced fitting story elements into something that could be a whole lot more simple, and could just come down to, here's what's going on, here's what here's why it matters. And here's what needs to be done about,
Francisco Mahfuz 11:15
I guess, that has a little to do with something that a lot of people do when they're trying to tell stories is that they will pick some of the elements, but not actually tell a story. So it happens in both ways. You see, some people say, you get some social media a lot storytime. And then they say, are you know, when I went to university, I didn't have that many friends. And I decided to dedicate myself to whatever. And it was really important to me, that's not a story. I just give me a statement about you know, how University was there's not nothing is actually pick a phrase from your book. It's not, you know, something's happening to somebody somewhere. There's just like, This is what university was like, that's not a story. So that's one problem. And the other problem is people will say, you know, meet Francisco, and you give some of my character traits. In San Francisco likes to do this. Francisco likes to do that. It's not a story. So it backfires. Because you're trying to do something, which is kind of artificial. And you do it very badly. So it's the worst of both worlds in a way.
Ted Frank 12:20
Yeah, did you just answered better than I did? So well done. Thank you.
Francisco Mahfuz 12:24
It's this is one thing I always I always say to people, the job of anyone who calls themselves a speaker is sound confident and sound like we know what we're talking about. When we speak about stuff. It does mean we know it better than anyone else, we just put it together in a way that hopefully sounds convincing. I must admit, I was surprised. With, you know, both the people we work with and some of the one of the major examples in the book at the very end is Netflix. So it's a it's it's a very interesting story about a consumer insight presentation that Netflix highlighting how most consumers at least at the time, weren't very aware of Netflix originals, I think now that that would have changed significantly by now. But then it was a big, potentially big issue for them. And what I was very surprised about was that, you know, I teach people storytelling, I would think that Netflix is the last company I would ever bother pitching, because surely these guys know what they're doing when it comes to telling stories. And I would have expected that it permeated more to other parts of the company and not just, you know, the creatives that are actually involved with the content, based on what of the impression I got from your book, that doesn't seem to be the case?
Ted Frank 13:40
Well, I definitely think it's much more the case, then then other companies, it definitely has permeated, but it's a long, long road from you know, someone who's let's say, you know, a researcher, or a data analyst or a programmer, up to that creed to that director level that they are in the creative on the creative team. You know it at Netflix, one of the reasons why I love them so much is that the standard for presentations is so much higher there than it is anywhere else. And every single presentation has to almost be a movie in order to make sure that that it's compelling. And one of the things we do is we put a lot of video in all of our presentations so that we can really show and we can really bring a fourth emotion and things that I just don't get to do in other, you know, with other clients. But it is still a long road. That's why I say you know, it's a lot to ask of people to be good storytellers, because it's a whole skill set that they just don't have yet. I need to meet people at their desk in my world and really help them, you know, do what they can do within that month that they've got to do it.
Francisco Mahfuz 14:48
Yeah. One thing that I found very interesting throughout the book is comparing your approach to most of what my approach is and the approach of people like anecdote which story based consulting as well, whereas the things I resonate more naturally with are so simple, that the idea of, of that people are not necessarily good storytellers and how much of a craft it is, becomes a lot less relevant because often all, again, this is not going to be appropriate to every presentation. But often, all you need to do is say, Okay, you you're now presenting to the team, the company is going through a transition period, and you now need to convince them that you were the person to lead that transition, all you need to do now is think of a moment in your life where you've gone through an experience that was similar personally, or not even professionally, either. And either you got it right them, or you got it completely wrong, and realise that you need to dedicate yourself to becoming better at it. And people will typically be able to think of an experience that they had that was that, and then the presentation mostly becomes, you go in you tell that story in the new move on to, to the action points of what they have to do, and that I would argue anyone can do, and they might not be able to deliver it terribly well. And the way I deliver it, when I practice with them is one way the way they deliver and get there on stage is different variate it's a world apart from from some of the higher end stuff you do. And just so it's clear to everyone who's listening, I wanted to talk about what you just called Story staging, which I think is what I'm thinking of the type of stuff you do to open presentations. And under if that's what you mean by story staging,
Ted Frank 16:39
well, that's that definitely a story staging, but you can actually make the entire thing store or your entire presentation, a story stage. Okay, I actually did to answer your first part. First point, I think you're absolutely right, that everybody can tell stories, it's just whether or not you know, they have that time to put into it to get there. And I think that there are certain people that are naturally wonderful in operators, and that for them that that verbal approach is perfect. And then there are people, you know, like me who are very visual, and the movie approach where you know, you're, you're taking people right to the scene works really well. And so it's really, you know, what works best for anybody and what the people that they're talking to, will most, you know, we'll most gravitate toward, and what will make an impression on them. So I'll give you a story about story staging, I did a project for a cable company. And they had a lot of these set top boxes that they were doing, like kinda like DVRs. And their DVR. On the end, they had the standard one, then they had better ones and better ones. And the executives all had the best one. But the majority of their subscribers had the one had the bait had the entry level one that wasn't nearly as good. And it wasn't nearly as good as the competitors. And the team that I was with was charged with convincing the executives that they needed to upgrade that box to get up to their competitors, because they were losing. But they knew the executives all had the premium model. So they didn't have a problem. And they couldn't, you know, no matter what they told the executives, the executives were always thinking about what's my experience at home. I don't know what these people are bitching about, because it's fine. So what we did was we told the executives to not watch this really this really big football game that we knew they all wanted to watch, don't watch it, we're going to record it for you, and you're going to get to see it but don't watch it. So they came into that presentation really wanting to know what the score was and what what the game was. And when they walked in, we had three Lazy Boy chairs all set up in front of three televisions with three set top boxes, one was ours, and two were the the other competitors. And the three executives sat down and we asked them, what we want you to do is we want you to fast forward to the first score in the game, and then tell us what it is. And the competitors, the gut, the executives who sat in front of the competitors, they got there very quickly. And the executive sitting in front of our set top box didn't and the other two were, you know, they were they were just clowning him. And it was such a huge scene. And it was so demonstrative about why that our setup box was so far behind. And in the end, they got that story.
Francisco Mahfuz 19:21
It's one of those which it's a very good example of show don't tell it does another one, you you you describe that I thought it was really, really interesting. Where you talked about turning off the lights.
Ted Frank 19:34
Yeah. If often if you want you know, you need to set people right into your story. And you know, so having like you said a great opening when they walk in and like you know, they walked in they saw nothing but three lazy boys was that would tell them right away. This is not gonna be like any other presentation. So all the dread that they had that day just get sucked out of their minds in there. They can think about nothing else in the lazy boys and turning off the lights It's like the easiest way to get people to completely, you know, refresh their minds, because no one expects the lights to go down. And that's actually how I start. One of my workshops is, lights go off, everyone's a little uncomfortable. They don't know why the lights are off. And then I launched in with the trailer for Moneyball the movie with Brad Pitt, because that's all about data. Data is the hero of that story. And about data's effect on sports. And it just, it just cleanses everything that was in their minds before and, and laser focuses them on what we're going to talk about that day.
Francisco Mahfuz 20:33
I think anyone that doubts the power of story, just needs to look into Michael Lewis's career, the men can make anything exciting, I think when he wasn't happy enough to write the Moneyball story, which, as you said, is about you know, baseball statistics. He said, No, this is too easy. I'm going to do I'm going to do harder one, and then he did one about traders, you were trying to do a federal record on fast traders or people trading like instantaneously and trying to get fibre optic cables across the United States to gain in a 10th of a second on a trade. And they said, No, that's too exciting. I'm going to do one on behavioural economics. And I think his last book was one of his last books was on was in Daniel Kahneman, and Amos Tversky. But the guys who this basically discovered and founded behavioural economics, I really liked the to be I think you call them the big two questions, which are, what do they need to do? And once you know that, which you only know by empathising with them, what are the three most important things they need to do? They need to know to do it, right. I really like that approach. And how do you go from there, to just the the concept of of the three key scenes,
Ted Frank 21:49
I start with empathise with the people in that room? What are they going through? What do they need to do with the information you're giving them, and then help them out, give them what they need to do to succeed at that, that when once you really put yourself in the, in the shoes of the person you're speaking to, it's amazing how people's perception of the information that they have in their deck changes, and for the most part gets cut by like 75% a lot of the time, then they create, they put together three part of the divide their slides into three piles. And I emulate Hollywood because Hollywood has three key scenes that every screenwriter starts with before they write the 100 scenes of their movie, they start with these key three scenes, there's the inciting incident, which is this, I'm going to use Star Wars as the example. That's when Luke says lay in the hologram. Because before that, he is just a whiny ass farm boy that is never getting out of tattooing. But he sees the princess and he has to save her. And then scene number two is what we call the turning point or sometimes called the midpoint, but it's not necessarily in the middle of the movie. And that's when we re understand that our hero believes in the theme of the movie. So in Star Wars, it's when Luke uses the force because now we know that we are all in with him, he is taking the big risk, it really gives us an emotional lift for the movie and sets us up for scene number three, which is the climax, which of course is when the Death Star blows up. And what screenwriters do is they write those key three scenes first, and then they always know where their story's going. And whenever they have a key scene, that new scene that scenes job is to drive toward the next key scene. So it when when we put that to people in their terms of their 100 Page deck, it really helps them understand, okay, I can actually have a story with these three, every other slides has has the job of moving me forward, rather than what they used to have, which is just, it's what I have. And I'm going to tell it, what is
Francisco Mahfuz 23:46
the simplest way to explain to someone, how will you turn a sort of code, database PowerPoint deck into three key scenes? Because having seen what you're doing it through the book and some of the other videos, that that's clear enough to me, but I think for someone listening, I think the concept of what is my key scene? What's my turning point? I think they might not have seen it as a story to begin with. So how do you find what's the important scenes in that story?
Ted Frank 24:16
Well, I think that you know, how Hollywood does it and their turning point, their their climax, you don't really need to worry about at that stage, just figure out what are the three most important things you know that your stakeholders need to know, in order to do what they need to do, right? That's the key and then later on, we kind of will be able to get them to where they can build a story arc around that. But in the beginning, when they're just choosing what are my big three, just really think about? What's going to be most helpful.
Francisco Mahfuz 24:44
Okay, and just to make this more even more direct, would it be fair to say that what they need to figure out are the three most important insights or the three most important bits of data so you know, what you want them to do is say at adopt this new strategy. So what are the three most important things that they need to know to adopt that strategy? Would it be fair to say that, you know, one of them might be? This is the big problem? And then the other one might be the opportunity. And then the last one is the solution.
Ted Frank 25:19
Yeah, that's that often is, is the story arc, because to kind of where you were, where we emulate Hollywood is that instead of having the insightful an inciting incident, the turning point and the climax, one of the story arcs I've seen work really well is first establish urgency. You know, why do we care about this? Why are we in the room? Like you said, What is the problem? Or what is the big opportunity? And what is it that makes that makes it important right now, you know, is there time running out? We'll get if if it's an opportunity, you will somebody else, grab it before us? Or if it's a problem, we'll get worse. And so often, you're the first thing you have, the thing that's really important is, why do we care about it right? Now? Then the second thing, like I said, is that what's the big payoff? If we go this route, if we you know, take, or from learning this information? What are they going to be built to to achieve or do and you know, what's the reward they're going to get? And then confidence, I think, is the last thing that's really important, which is, what are we going to do about it? Or what can be done about it? And you know, what's my strategy? What are my next steps, so the executives in that room have a sense of, we have to do this, we want to do this, and these guys can do it. I have faith in these people. Here's your Greenlight, here's your budget, go make us a tonne of money,
Francisco Mahfuz 26:43
even talking about how to get to the three most important things they need to know to do it right. Obviously, we're talking about heavy editing, which is when the the baby killing comes into play. For anyone who doesn't know this is a very common saying in Hollywood is that you have to kill your babies, it means you have to get rid of some of the things you like or that you've you favour in a script or in whatever you're working with, to end up with the stuff that is really essential and good to to the movie or to the presentation. But I really liked one technique that she described from, from David Mamet, David Mamet. Yeah, Matt. Yeah. Can you just describe what exactly he how he decides if a scene should stay or go?
Ted Frank 27:26
Yeah, and I think anybody you can apply this to their slides, as well as he goes through his his his scenes. And if anybody's seen a screenwriter, what they work, what they do is they usually write their scenes on index cards, and they either put them on the wall, or they put them on the table. So they have, it's just like a PowerPoint slide when you're looking at the slide sorter view. It's that rectangle. And he goes through every single one. And he looks at the scene before it and he looks at the scene after it. And he asks himself, can I get from the scene before it to the scene after it without the same? It'd be can it goes in the garbage? And he can't, then it stays. But he puts him, he puts that up, he does that exercise with every scene, so he can get rid of any scenes that really don't matter. And you can do the same thing with your deck.
Francisco Mahfuz 28:11
I mean, it's pretty obvious when you think about it. But no one does it this way, is this idea of saying something and then backing that up, which is what most people do with those slides, you know, big headline, and then here's the bullet points that substantiate it. And your idea of flipping that. And again, that's very normal. When you're speaking, if you're doing it, if you have this and that speaking, you're always going to do it the way you do it. So can you just explain how that what that is and how that looks when it comes to slides?
Ted Frank 28:46
Yeah, it's all I think it's all started from the way the template is set up in PowerPoint, where you've got the big headline, and then you've got your first level bullets and your second level bullets and your third level bullets. So you naturally do it that way, you naturally like I said, put the big thing that's really important in the headline, and then you back it up with bullet one, bullet number two, bullet number three, number four, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And all of that just creates this downward slide in engagement for the people watching it, because you've already given this big thing away, and then they just fall asleep and fall asleep and fall asleep even more because they don't need to pay attention. So great storytellers, like yourself too. And what movies do is they flip it and what were bullet points that were supporting it, they now lay out as kind of clues that lead you toward the big point. And one of the examples that I bring up is how newspapers which are a lot like corporations and PowerPoint templates, do it because you've got the headline, and every you know, every journalist says should you know taught you got to give them meat in the headline and then you you have your story to back it up. I give an example of this one article called sharks to kill two in Australia and we've got the the article that flips that backs it up. And the way I contrast that with the movie Jaws and how movies do it, which is that first thing you see is you see the swimmer, and you don't even know there's a shark going on. Whereas before you knew that sharks that the sharks killed two people. Now you just see the swimmer, and then you see the outline of the shark. And then that's clues. Number one, Clue Number two, then you see the fin pop out of the water. And even though you know exactly what's going to happen, you still have to pay attention because you just have to, and then at the end, that's when you get the bite, it's never in the beginning, because they know we're gonna lose interest. So as soon as the bite happens, and you see some blood in the water, they're off to another scene, because they know like you like, you know, you've got to build up that tension, tension, anticipation, anticipation, big moment, and then do it again. But don't do it. In the reverse.
Francisco Mahfuz 30:49
Yeah, I find interesting what works and what doesn't work for different types of storytelling. So the resource or technique that people use a lot in movies and books called immediate rests, where you start in the middle of the action that's works very well in movies that works very well in books. I don't find that it works terribly well, in oral storytelling, it's difficult for me to say to you, my girlfriend on the her parents are visiting caught me with you know, my child is down with my crotch inside the freezer. But what happened that day was it just doesn't really work. You just feel super artificial. You can definitely do it on a on a book, even perfectly do it on a movie, because you just paint the scene and then you go back and well, what the hell was that? I don't know. Now, I want to know, it's interesting. How is trying to tell a story through visuals or slides? It doesn't really work that well, because then you kill the suspense. Yeah, well,
Ted Frank 31:43
I think, you know, you just kind of hit hit the nail on the head, because the headline of your story is, my girlfriend's parents saw me, you know, with my, with my penis, in the fridge,
Francisco Mahfuz 31:55
there was no penis being seen the everything was being blocked by the by the freezer.
Ted Frank 32:01
That's the key thing. And so you cannot like you said, you cannot start with that. That has to be the end. It's effective. Exactly. So what you've done is you flipped it and everything that came that you've given some setup to it by giving that information? And yes, it's not it's it's not starting the middle of the scene. But that's fine, because the middle of the scene is the key point.
Francisco Mahfuz 32:23
Yeah, what does work well, is to give the moral of the story or a taste of what the moral or the theme of the story is, as a way to get into the story. So So you can say, you don't have a second chance to make a first impression. But but you can recover from a terrible first impression. And then you tell the story, or I've seen people say sometimes is the things we don't realise that are where our biggest learnings come from, and then just tell the story. So it's it buys you time for telling a story that is not getting to the point for people that perhaps expect you to get to the point. But But no 100% agree with the way you you use slides. I think that the only concern I think most people would have is, if you're not going into the point straight away, that the people watching might feel that you're wasting their time. I think you and I know that they won't feel that if you do it properly. But I think the concern would remain to some people.
Ted Frank 33:22
Yeah, and you have to do it very quickly. You can't Yeah, you can't lag. That's why I like you know, to the question you had, at the beginning about you know, like the meat Francisco story is you're wasting people's time you got to move, you got to get people, everything has to be engaging, and it has to to be engaging quickly.
Francisco Mahfuz 33:40
We haven't talked about this at all yet, but a lot of your book, and your work is based on infusing emotion into this presentations, because it's a key component of any type of storytelling. If you're not moving people emotionally, then probably not moving them at all. And I really liked that you had the math metaphor from Jonathan heights book, The Happiness hypothesis, which is a motherhood which is an elephant rider on top of an elephant. So the idea there is obviously that the rider can direct the elephant and the rider is the you know, the rational part of your brain. And the elephant is the emotion. So the rider, the rider can direct the elephant. But if the elephant decides is not moving is normal. So if you don't move the elephant or move people emotionally, so it's going to work. And I I care about that metaphor a lot because it happened to me. I was in Ireland in 2012, I think. And my wife and I went to one of these elephant places, but it was one of those places that they actually take good care of the elephants. So the only way you could go is you had to stay the whole day. So we would go we got in early, and they explained to us how it works. And it basically said, You need to feed the elephant and befriend the elephant before you can ride the elephants because we wouldn't be riding it wouldn't be on my hood trained my hood to be us. So you feed the elephant and spend time petting the elephant. And once you've done it enough, they say, Okay, fine, now you can ride. And then you stay on top of the elephant. And we didn't have the whole equipment, they just gave us some very basic clues about like, if you do tap them this way or pull their year, this way, they will kind of move to one side or to the other. I mean, wasn't great to have control we had there and any works well enough until the point that the elephant got into the water and decided they just wouldn't move until we base them. And the guy was like, Ah, fine, you really want to renovate the elephants, like I don't mind didn't really want to get into the mud. They're like, well, but the elephant decided there's nothing we can do about it. So yeah, so I think the idea that the rational part of your brain is the one that's going to stay in control is one that I've, once I saw the metaphor, I immediately related to it, because 100% That is 100% the case, you're not moving that elephant,
Ted Frank 35:57
I'm definitely going to eat thank you so much for telling me that because I'm definitely going to add that when I when I present that metaphor,
Francisco Mahfuz 36:03
well, I can, I can make it better. And this is something I probably will do when I used to speaking which is I can give you a photo. This is a piece of art. So it's a photo of myself and my wife on top of the same elephant. But I'm dressed like a prisoner of war. A prisoner of war in a in a cheap romance novel. Because I have the the prisoner of war outfit kind of open with some chess player showing this feature was printed that the place and the printer the place so it's now kind of aged, it looks like a 1960s movie with crap image quality. And the the frame I have is made paper made out of elephant dung. I'll send you that picture. Use it at your own discretion. But it's one of your might have to apologise before your show it.
Ted Frank 37:01
Oh, thank you so much that is that. Because I'm always way too serious when I go into these things. So it's like that would be perfect.
Francisco Mahfuz 37:10
Yeah, not not a problem. I have
Ted Frank 37:14
to know that you have to like you have to basically like you have to they're like kids, you have to show them you love them. Do you have to give the elephant chocolate? I think
Francisco Mahfuz 37:21
it was whatever we're giving them. I don't think it was might have been vegetables, or just some foliage or whatever. I can remember exactly what we fed them. They're nice. They're super friendly. And they really enjoyed getting bathed. But But yeah, you it was very clear you you weren't the control. There was no question about it. You could come you could feel kind of like I mean, like me, you've been married more than once. So you can feel yourself, you're in control. But let's be honest, it's not really happening. Yeah, exactly,
Ted Frank 37:52
exactly. You have to romance that elephant. Yeah, that's the thing. It's like when you tell people when you just when you act in that rational sense, you can make them understand. But in order for people to get off their butts and back your initiative and do something, you got to make them believe you have to inspire them, and that both of those only come from really moving them emotion and making them care.
Francisco Mahfuz 38:12
And what would you say would be the sort of the one or two things like if you could only do one or two things to try and move them emotionally with the presentation, what would those things be,
Ted Frank 38:24
I would say show them the people that are going to be most affected by initiative. So it's either the people that are going to help or let's say the people that are going to help achieve or something like that give them a person that they can identify with, that can become like a hero that they can root for, and they can want to help that's that's really the big thing, or that's the thing I would do.
Francisco Mahfuz 38:47
Okay, so essentially having characters or a hero, that that they can necessarily relate to, but but see in real life. And that is an interesting thing. And there's a lot of talk in advertising about avatars, which kind of feels very forced. But what I've seen you do in the book and the supporting videos that go with it, in I think in one case, the one where it was about diabetes medication, that was an actual person, right? So you you guys went and found an actual person that has diabetes, and then it's her telling about her struggles with it, and not this, you know, some of our clients find this problem.
Ted Frank 39:23
Exactly, because that's the thing. It's like some of our clients, it's so abstract, that you're never going to wrap your head around it. So you know, Taylor was our was our diabetic, and she is she is an absolute real person. And she's a wonderful person. And we bring out all the kind of heroic qualities of Taylor and how she wants so much and what she wants is what we all had can take for granted every day, you know, the ability to go to a friend's house without having to drag her diabetes kit with her. And then we contrast that with what's holding her back. And that creates this gap between what should be and what isn't is and we give people an opportunity to solve that, that gap and help tailor just be like the rest of us. And that that's where it becomes so much so powerful. Because once you like tailor and you want to help tailor, then you've got this more, it becomes a moral problem that you really, really want to solve.
Francisco Mahfuz 40:17
One thing that came to me off and as I was going through your stuff was that for all that I'm not lazy. For certain things, like doing my research for a podcast, or reading up and learning more about storytelling. I'm remarkably lazy about things I'm not that comfortable with. And one of them is, for example, video, which, which is why every video I ever put out on social media is a one take video of me telling a story, because I can't be bothered learning how to edit them. And I don't have any doubt that a well produced video, or not well produced, but a well chosen video, maybe an interview, maybe a quote, what you guys done with, with with Taylor, that's always going to be very powerful in a presentation. But a lot of people I think, won't be able to do that they won't have the budget, they won't have the time, maybe they just have absolutely no idea of how to do those things. And it's just beyond what a lot of these people will would ever do for a presentation. But you had a lot of techniques that I thought was super interesting when it came to making slides more like a movie without just by using the software itself. And so can you just talk a bit about two or three of those ways that you can just make them more cinematic, I think it's the word you use.
Ted Frank 41:36
You know, the one one key difference between a movie and and let's say the way that two people tell presentations right now is the movies are linear, they you only see one thing at a time. And that makes it so easy for our brains to process. So one of the ways you can emulate that in PowerPoint, is to build your slide, just have one thing show up as he talked about it at a time, instead of just having everything show up at the same time. And that it's it's very simple, but it is actually a cinematic technique, it also does a big favour for you, because it allows you to be in control of the narrative and in control of when people get information. So if you're talking about what's going on, let's say top left corner, no one is going to ask you about what's in the bottom right corner, because it's not on the screen yet. And they are not going to hijack your presentation. So that's the that's like the easiest way is one thing, just you know, hit the appear button. And a one thing at a time pops up on the screen.
Francisco Mahfuz 42:34
Let me just illustrate that with a great example you have there with with puppy claws. So if I recall correctly, this was it was about realtors and it was some data showing that the thing that they should be able to be talking about an open house that's going to engage their buyers more than anything else are the holidays and and dogs right. So I think the way you you guys did it was or you did it was there was a question, you know, what should you be talking about an open house to engage buyers or whatever. So that came out first, and then the next clique? It was the statistic that said holidays, then the next clique was a statistic that said dog, and then the last clique is this puppy with a Santa Claus hat, you know, Puppy claws, that there'll be one example of it. You also talked this is later in the book, perhaps this is the more sophisticated techniques, but he talked about things like transitions, and sear and zoom.
Ted Frank 43:29
Yeah, and that's that is the next level is is using animation in PowerPoint in a way that's going to reinforce your story and visually show your story not just to be kitschy, or you know, or gimmicky, but to really make it make it work. And there are a couple that I use all the time. And one of them is called the push transition. And it's really it comes right from Hollywood where they basically move the camera from, let's say the left to the right. And when they get to the right, it reveals something like you see it all the time when you see like the you know, you see this nothing wall and then the camera pans and then you see the like James Stan smoking the cigarette. So what you do is you have the thing that you reveal on slide two, the second slide, and then you have what's your setup on the first slide, and you have a trend, you have a push either from left to right, or from bottom to top. And it creates this idea that there's that whatever is on the second slide is really off screen and you're pushing it. So let's say you have a statistic that is so dramatically high, you can actually put that statistic on the second slide so that when you're you're building it, it looks like but you know you've got you're on the first slide and then this this stat is so high it doesn't even make it on the second slide because you have to push it down in order to get to there and it's a really really simple but dramatic effect.
Francisco Mahfuz 44:55
Yeah and and the other one I liked because because this one is not I mean it's not terribly different. got from a technical point of view, once you've, you've done it once or twice, but the one that I think a lot of people would find very easy to do is when you use a series with the same hero, as you call it, can you just explain how that works?
Ted Frank 45:14
Yeah, so in that case, what it is, is those are, what we had was we had this traditional quantitative stat heavy kind of presentation that was all about I'm gonna say it's, it's for Capital One, the credit card company all about getting their merchants like GAAP and best fi to adopt their rewards card. So what we did was we created a hero for that story. And we called her Sophia and then I ran an ad for a model. And I took pictures of Sophia doing the things that the stats said she was going to do. And all we did then was present the to this 15 slides. But instead of just having the big the stat and a chart or something like that, we showed what was going on with Sophia inaction at the place like she's at the Old Navy, she's using her phone to scan the the scan the item. And then that really brings everybody right to where that stat lives, and it brings it to life. And it just makes it so easy for the people watching it. Because instead of a bunch of bar charts, which all look exactly the same. Now you've got a hero to follow. In Sofia, you've got you see her and all these places, and it becomes so much more believable to them, because they can see it. And it didn't take a lot of time. It took me about two hours to to at a mall to shoot all these pictures. And it cost me about $150 to hire this model. And it made it so much more memorable for the stakeholders. So a
Francisco Mahfuz 46:39
couple of other things that on contents that I wanted to pick your brain on. So the first one is the the line. Imagine with Imagine Yeah,
Ted Frank 46:49
yeah, so one of the things that were one of the areas where people run into trouble in corporate presentations is when they get to the recommendation section, often they're afraid to make the big recommendation, because they're, you know, it's it might be controversial. It might be you know, asking too much. So they're afraid. So they kind of step back and drill it down a little bit, and then they never get what they want. But then they're also when you recommend something to somebody, then you're really planting your foot in the ground and putting yourself at risk, which is why they're scared, and it might backfire on you later on if it doesn't work out. So one thing you can do to get around that is to kind of flip it and instead of saying I recommend you say imagine if and then you have what you would recommend play out like like in, like I could say, imagine if this podcast was faster, rather than this podcast, we recommend this podcast be faster, say imagine if it was faster, what and then you show the payoff of what would happen, you end up giving the exact same information with the same message. But the differences instead of it being a command to people, it's an invitation for them to solve it. It's more of
Francisco Mahfuz 48:01
a pull strategy than a push strategy, as a lot of people like to talk about stories being a pull strategy, and not, you know, pushing information onto people. Okay, the other one is this very simple concept that I think clears a lot of problems, which is having two versions of the presentation.
Ted Frank 48:20
Yeah, like, you know, you asked me this yesterday about, you know, not in regard to not showing so much on the screen and not showing so much text. One of the things that people always tell me is they have to do that there's, there's, they have to provide this information. So my recommendation to them is what I said, Imagine if you could give them that, but give it to them at the end. And then do two versions of your presentation, do the long one where you explain everything, and it's like a report, but it's a visual report, let's say and then do a save as and then your second one, take off all the stuff that doesn't matter, or all that stuff, the long version, get down to what really, really matters and what will make it easy to see on screen and present that on the wall and knowing that you're going to give them that long version at the end then it frees you up and it makes you realise I don't have to tell them everything in the 10 minutes I have they're gonna get it but they're gonna get it afterward. In the third
Francisco Mahfuz 49:17
one was music, which is something that I think very few people would use or would even consider using when presenting but but you swear by it right?
Ted Frank 49:28
I swear by but I think you're absolutely right it is it is not an easy thing to manage because it's one more thing that you have to do in addition your slides but it is so effective at reaching people emotionally and reaching people you know on air and keeping things moving. It's the same reason like if you if you ever watch a movie The music is really what gives you a lot of information about you know telling you when to be scared to tell you when to to love telling you when to do these things. It's so powerful because like I said, it gets right to your heart. So I use it all the time. And there's some time what I'll what I'll do is when I have something Pivotal, then I will attach music to my slide. And it'll be a sound file that plays and it'll set me up for kind of giving that story sequence and suck people in. But then there are some easy ways to do it, which is, and I know this is gonna sound risky, but play music when people walk into your conference room play, like I love, like stuff that's really positive, and universally loved, like, you know, Michael Jackson and stuff like, you know that, or Motown or things like that the chest refreshes everybody, and really shows people when they walk in the room, they're not going to you know, this isn't going to be like every other presentation I've seen today, this one's going to be a little different. So
Francisco Mahfuz 50:51
probably not a good idea to have the death matter. What are the gangsta rap right at the start, I guess?
Ted Frank 50:57
Yeah, like, yeah, exactly. You gotta, unless unless that's your point, you know, unless your world?
Francisco Mahfuz 51:05
Yes, probably not. Okay, so one of the things you did in the book that I really liked, but I don't think we're gonna have time to go into that in that much detail is at the very end, you say, if you have a month, you can do all of these things you can do the film, you can do every every resource you provide there, you can do. If you have a week or two, then probably most of that you can do as well. But could you just give us some ideas? If you have one hour to improve your presentation? Or if you have one day? What can you do?
Ted Frank 51:34
If you have one hour? Then you do that? That exercise we talked about in the beginning is what is putting yourself in the stakeholders shoes and saying what do they really need to do with this this information? What do they you know, do they need to reformat a product, they need to position a brand they miss need to give me a green light, that automatically will shift the way that you present it and the way that you decide you sip your information. And then go through your slides and see what you can cut out and what you really need to focus on. Because if you can figure out what let's say those three big things are and give those greater emphasis, then you can decide what your stakeholders watching a presentation come away with, that's what I would do in an hour is what's most important, what's really going to help them do what they need to do. And in a day, if you have a day, then I would say actually take that further. And then go to the next step, which is when you is to make it certain things real. So those key three scenes figure out how I can visually take my stakeholders into that world and make it real for them either through like a, an image like a stock photo, or a screenshot, let's say you're talking about a web page, take a screenshot of the webpage, so everybody can see what we're talking about and make it easy for them and make it real kind of like how we do with the SOFIA series that I was talking about for Capital One was we just I took pictures of a of a millennial at the store doing the thing I never actually introduced here, Sophia, blah, blah, blah, blah, we just went broad and right into that scene, and it made it real.
Francisco Mahfuz 53:06
So now presentations have changed a lot. Because as we record this, we're in the middle of a pandemic, and most of everything is happening in the US. I mean, how have you found that what we're living through now affects it now that the presenting in person is not an option, in most cases, and then people are glued to the screen. So do you find that your style of presentation is that helped by the current scenario neutral, or hurt in some way?
Ted Frank 53:36
It actually has, it is definitely not helped. Because what I what I do is, is based on having a screen behind you that's that's pretty big and pretty dynamic. And using things like video, which is not always easy to pull off in in zoom. So what I've what I've done is I've simplified everything down and made it so that it can be achievable through zoom.
Francisco Mahfuz 53:59
Interesting, because I think that this type of stuff I do has been horrendously hurt by what we're going through, because no one is going to look at me talking for an hour, I don't what is I can pull off a keynote without, without slides, or just you know, a handful of slides and some props that I cannot do that online, it just doesn't work. And I would have thought it still might not be working at its full power. But the type of stuff you do would still be better off in many ways because there's a lot of speakers that believe that you need to create a lot of stimulation when people are looking at the screen. So you know different sounds different things to look at the screen. So if it's the same face all the time you get bored then you switch off and you might even just go look at something else and just listen to the person. But if there's something new for you to look at every few seconds, it becomes harder to to switch off. So I think that someone who like me, who in principle doesn't like massive slide decks, I feel the need for them a lot more now than than I ever did live.
Ted Frank 55:11
Yeah, in that case, it has helped because he, like you said, I can create that that fit in my style can create that visually stimulating environment and that that engagement and that presentation that moves, the concepts of being simple, being quick, being memorable, all really work really well, where I've said have had a dialogue down is that when, whereas before, I tried to be very immersive, and tried to create, you know, things like, you know, like using videos and things like that, to really, really move the emotions, that's gotten harder on him. So I've had to dial it back and and tell my clients, yeah, let's not do a video here. Let's not put music here. Let's not use this animation, because it's going to be, we're not sure how it's gonna end up with the bandwidth. But you know, you can absolutely still be visual and create that kind of movie of sorts.
Francisco Mahfuz 56:05
Okay, so your book, which I realise now I might not have actually said the name of is get to the heart. And I can hand to heart say that, if anything I've ever read or heard made me despise PowerPoint, less is been, it's been your book. Now how much I'm going to adopt it to its full capacity, it's yet to be seen. But if we stay on lockdown, I'm pretty sure that that I will end up using a lot of that stuff. Because I can definitely see how, how it should improve not only my presentations, but pretty much anyone's now other than the book, which can be found anywhere books are found. Where would you want people to go if they want to get in touch with you or find out more about the stuff you're doing these days.
Ted Frank 56:53
Everything's on my website, which is Ted Frank dotnet. And you'll see trailers from our workshops, you'll get to see there's the the link to the book there. And then kind of the whole breakdown. Okay, perfect.
Francisco Mahfuz 57:05
Ted, it's been an absolute pleasure. And I'm glad you made this happen.
Ted Frank 57:09
Oh, thank you. And you know, and I'm going to, I'm going to try what, try opening my freezer and seeing how it feels.
Francisco Mahfuz 57:18
Alright, everyone, thanks for tuning in. Take care of yourselves. And until next time.
I hope you enjoy the show. And if you did, I'd love for you to subscribe and leave us a review or a rating on the Apple podcasts app. It's very easy. You open the app and find this show and scroll down a little and when you see the stars tab. I'd really appreciate it and it does help other people find this. And if you'd like to get in touch or find out more about what I do, reach out to me on LinkedIn or visit my website story powers.com