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The Simple Way To Find Your Story

Everyone wants their presentation to be simple, but, as we all know, achieving simplicity is incredibly difficult.

One reason it’s so difficult is actually a bit of good news. It’s probably because you’re really smart. And, I’m not just brown-nosing you, here. The weeds, as they say, are packed with smart people because smart people have one big handicap: they can hold a lot in their heads. That’s great for so many things but not for being simple. Combine that head capacity with, let’s say, the fact that you’ve been working deeply and passionately on your project for a long while, and the challenge to stay out of the weeds becomes even more difficult.

So how do we get out?

Great question. Luckily for us, movies have an answer, and it’s a really good one. Guess how many key scenes the average movie has? 20? 30? Actually, most big movies are based around three key scenes: there’s the inciting incident that kicks the story into gear, the turning point, where we see the hero buy into the theme of the story, and, of course, the climax.

So instead of starting at the beginning, screenwriters start with those key scenes. That makes the job not only smaller and more manageable, but, with those three key scenes as guide posts for the rest of the story, those scenes also help screenwriters stay out of the weeds.

This strategy is how movies can often be written very quickly. Rocky, for example, was written in just 3-1/2 days. Imagine that. A Best Picture that set up a six-movie franchise, written in 3-1/2 days.

So how do you find your three key scenes? It starts with two big questions that will lead you to your key three and to the heart of your story.

Question #1: The one very few people ask:
What do your stakeholders need to do with your information? Not, what did they ask for? But, what do they need to do? Do they need to re-position a brand, launch a project, get buy-in from a board of directors? Thinking about what they need to do will automatically set you and your smart brain up for…

Question #2: What are the three things in your deck that can help them do it right?
I say three not just because I’m copying the movies, but because it will force you to get to the heart of what really matters to your stakeholders. Also, three concepts is about as much as they’ll be able to remember. So if you, like a screenwriter, choose those three concepts ahead of time and give them greater emphasis, you’ll be able to dictate what your stakeholders remember. If you do what most people do and evenly emphasize 10-15 points, you won’t get to make that decision. They’ll remember what they remember.

So that wraps it up for what to highlight in your presentation. In our next blog, we’ll cover the other side, how to whack the weeds that get in the way of your ideas. So stay tuned, and we’ll get you set. Or, if you don’t want to wait, click on over to Amazon for the paperback version of Get to the Heart or to iTunes for the interactive version.

Free Mini-Workshop & Book Launch Party

In celebration of Get to the Heart, we’re hosting a free Mini-Workshop, with highlights from our two full-day workshops, “Data2Story” and “The High Stakes Presentation,” and tips recently featured on

BYOP (Bring Your Own Presentation)
The workshop will feature exercises you can apply to one of your upcoming presentations. We’ll help you dig through the weeds to find your key story and make it more powerful and compelling. So if you’ve got one, bring it.

Then, we’ll keep the fun going with a party to celebrate the book’s launch and toast the demise of boring presentations.

Finally, we’ll be using this event to film a new promotional video. So to attend, we ask that you agree to let us use your image. If we do, it will most likely be very brief, and we’ll make sure you look cool. If you speak on camera, we’ll also make sure you get a free copy of Get to the Heart.

Date and Time
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
6:00 PM – 9:30 PM PST

6pm – Meet, Greet and Eat
6:30-8:30pm – Workshop and Q&A
8:30-9:30pm – Launch party

414 Mason Street
Studio 401
San Francisco, CA 94102


Get to the Heart – Episode 4: The Pain so many Stakeholders Feel


Learn to empathize with the execs who are listening to your presentations and you’ll immediately understand how important a good story is.

Get to the Heart – Episode 3: An Even Bigger Way to Up your Relevance


In this episode, we’ll turn an ugly, boring chart into a simple, yet powerful, movie-style story. First, we’ll find the characters, setting and action to make it clear.  Then, we’ll use anticipation to make it far more engaging.

In the end, your stakeholders will get your key takeaways in a fraction of the time, remember them, and be able to share them with their teams, without you having to take them through it again.


Get to the Heart – Episode 2: Out of the Weeds that Hold You back

This episode is all about staying out of the weeds, and screenwriters have three techniques that not only help them do that, but also help them keep their stories and their process hyper-efficient. You can apply these same techniques to your projects. Just click on the video above to see how.