I was re-watching An American Werewolf in London recently, and I had an idea floating around in the bag of my head about how this relates if we want to make a presentation either for work or the International Speech Contest. By the way, if you’ve never seen the movie, and you like being scared out your wits, watch it. It’s a horror, but with a few comic moments thrown in. It frightened the poop out of me when I was a kid.
Anyway, the moment that got me thinking about how I make presentations was the scene where the lead David transforms into a werewolf right before your eyes. It wasn’t until I watched one of the extras, which was an interview with director John Landis, that I realised how this relates to how I make presentations.
In previous werewolf movies up to that point, you never saw the transformation on camera. It’d be done in fade outs or the actor would be obscured. But he wanted the audience to see the transition in “real time”.
So you get what I mean here’s a quick 34 second clip of An American Werewolf in London. For you’re of a nervous disposition probably best avoid it.
Side Note: I have to say that it the way they have his hair at this point in the transition, he looks like a Beatle. I can imagine Lennon going:
“David, look it’s just not working out.”
“What do you mean, John?”
“Well, you’re a good triangle player and everything, but every full moon you go on the rampage”
“Should I play a different instrument?”
“It’s not the instrument that’s the problem”
then it hit me… when you make a presentation what can often happen is that you skim over the transitional part of your story. From the audience’s perspective it happens “off-camera”, like the changes in the old werewolf movies.
Here’s what I mean…
in a speech I gave during the 2008 International Speech contest, I spoke about what it was like to lose my father and how I overcame my grief. But with each re-write and re-performance, I kept the actual moment where I decided to deal with my father’s death off camera, so to speak. You got the before and the after, but not really the meat of what I did to deal with my grief and what tools the audience could use. I didn’t give the audience my “werewolf moment”.
Whilst I have dealt with that time in my life away from the speaking platform, perhaps I am still unclear about what precise tools I used. As a result I was not as clear as I’d hoped with my own “werewolf moment”. Moments like this are really important in a presentation, especially in the International Speech Contest.
Even if you are not using an inspirational story when you make a presentation, if it’s a comic story for instance, there is often a moment of change or transition. The story generally changes direction and the stakes are often increased. Here’s a previous post I wrote about the Power of Myth for Speakers, which talks about some of the different stages a story can go through.
When you make a presentation and you are telling your particular story, make sure that we get the transition “on camera”. Show us what happened through action, or through character dialogue. Don’t use narrative to describe a transition to your audience when you can show them the transition right before their eyes.
So next time you make a presentation, or compete in the International Speech Contest, don’t forget to give the audience your “werewolf moment”.
By the way, if you wanna know more about how to write a winning speech The World Champion’s Edge has a 30-day trial at the moment for $1. Not sure how long that trial will last for. I can thoroughly recommend it as a resource.