Hello, my name is Nick Smith and I’m a fanatic. (“Hi, Nick!”)
When something piques my interest, I take on a nigh-obsessive curiosity for it and the very mention of said topic gets me very excited. Such topics for me include, but are not limited to:
- Chipotle Restaurants
- Mini Coopers
- Apple products
- The Beatles
- Animated movies (particularly Pixar)
- Presentation Design
You read this list and you probably don’t care a bit that all of those things are very important to me. But there’s a story behind every one of them, a reason for why they first caught my attention and for why they persist in interesting me to this day. Unless you share in one of those interests, though, you’d probably think me strange if my eyes lit up at the sight of a passing Mini or if I got excited about Target commercial with a cheesey Beatles cover for a soundtrack.
Let me share one of those stories with you.
I’ve always loved movies because from as early as I can remember movie-watching was one of the things that brought my family together. We’d have movie nights and special trips to the theater that were always so special. We got to eat Strawberry Twizzlers as we were transported to different worlds we’d never actually be able to visit. Those nights were magical.
My love of movies, and my interest in math and science, led to an interest in movie magic, the special effects behind those movies I loved, and could not get enough of behind-the-scenes shows and books about how they made such spectacles seem real. I had (and still have) a huge book about the early years of Industrial Light and Magic that I loved to look through as a kid. I would dream about being able to be on the team that created such amazing visuals like that.
Over the years, I became more and more excited as in computer generated imagery and animation (a blend between my love of technology and cinema) became popular. You can imagine my delight when Toy Story, the first full-length, computer animated movie came along. My love of computer animation developed into a love traditional, hand-drawn animation as well. My Bachelors degree thesis was on the changing gender roles of characters in Disney films. After I graduated from college, I actually came very close to enrolling in a computer animation program, but balked when I saw the kind of debt I’d have to take on to complete the degree.
You can imagine my disappointment when Disney Animation Studios announced that Home on the Range would be its last hand-drawn movie, and my excitement when The Princess and the Frog signaled a return of the hand-drawn musical genre that I loved as a child. Even at twenty-seven my excitement is part childhood memories of movie nights with my family and part adult fascination with a craft that is at the same time so artistic and yet so technically demanding.
Having heard that story, it may be easier for you to understand why I get so caught up in any mention of a new animated film. Had you not heard that story, though, you might think I’m quite strange, perhaps even childish. But I might look right back and wonder how you could NOT love animation the way I do.
My point is this. The goal of any presentation is to convey information to your audience. You have a story to tell. Maybe it’s the story of how the company did last quarter. Or the story of the heroic strategy that will lead us out of this recession.
You already know the story so it’s easy for you to get excited about it. Unless you can convey that story to your audience, however, no amount of statistics and charts and images and quotes and whatever is going to drive it home with them. You have to give them a glimpse of why your story means so much to you. And by telling them the story, you invite them to make it their story. You invite them to join you in knowing what you know and feeling what you feel so that they can ultimately understand why and how you want them to act.
Presenters are storytellers as much as any animator or film-maker or novelist or playwright. At least they can be. And you should be, too, if you want your audience to remember what you said.