Many presentations lack persuasion as they follow the same monotonous format; too many facts and figures, perplexing jargon, and an absence of emotional appeal.
As Seth Godin, renowned marketer and public speaker explains, the problem is this: The skeptic will always find a reason, even if it’s one the rest of us don’t think a good one. Relying too much on proof distracts you from the real mission – which is emotional connection.
People respond to emotional appeal. So why aren’t presentations more emotive?
The answer is – it’s an uncomfortable approach for presenters, especially for analytical and business professionals.
One of the best ways to transform your presentation and move people is by incorporating the Hero’s Journey. The Hero’s Journey, identified by the American scholar, Joseph Campbell, is an ancient narrative pattern which human beings have evolved over time as a survival mechanism. It helped them recognize the stages that they were going to go through in life, such as a major transition or an important journey.
When you use this anecdotal outline in your speech, you will be able to resonate with your audience immediately, because people intuitively know this pattern. As a result, they will automatically be able to plug themselves into the story and recognize how it reflects the realities of their own lives.
The stages of the Hero’s Journey are:
1. The Ordinary World
This is the stage in which you reveal to the audience, the background of the hero. What are the kinds of problems and challenges the hero is facing? What are the hero’s goals? This is where you captivate the audience by foreshadowing where the journey will take the hero.
2. Call to Adventure
This is the most important element of every story. It’s where an alarm goes off for both, the hero and the audience. It tells the audience that there is a problem at hand to be resolved by the hero.
3. Refusal of the Call
This is a temporary stage in the Hero’s Journey that involves fear and reluctancy. The audience will intrinsically identify with this phase because all human beings have the innate tendency to oppose change and resist stepping out of their comfort zone. This will evoke emotions in the audience.
4. Meeting With The Mentor
The Meeting with Mentor is the answer to the last stage, Refusal of the Call. During this phase of the story, we are introduced to a figure who is more advanced than the hero and serves as a mentor. The mentor is living evidence that the problem can be solved. The audience will be able to relate to this phase because we all aspire to meet mentors that will guide us and provide us with a roadmap.
5. Crossing the Threshold
This is an important turning point in the hero’s psychology to commit to the adventure. It signals to the audience that the hero has crossed the threshold into a whole new world and the action begins!
6. Tests, Allies and Enemies
At this stage, the Hero encounters positive and negative forces, such as allies and enemies.
7. The Approach
In this phase, the hero and the new team prepare for the major challenges ahead. The events that occur include strengthening of relationships, reconnaissance, and preparation for the big event.
This is the critical moment in any story. This is the moment where the Hero faces his greatest fear. Sometimes, this includes an actual physical death, or the death of an enterprise or a new venture. This is the real essence of the hero’s journey, where a transformation takes place.
Here, the hero takes possession of what he came to get in the special world, such as self-knowledge or a treasure.
10. Road Back
This is a period where you have to get the audience’s energy back. They have been through the exhausting stages of the journey and now you have to accelerate the road ahead. It’s what we call racing for the curtain in theatre. You have to pick up the pace and introduce new energy or a new corner that has to be turned. During this stage, you will motivate the audience to complete the adventure.
This is a new ordeal. It involves a final exam for the hero. It’s an opportunity for the hero to apply everything he has learned to overcome the final challenge.
12. Return with the Elixir
The final stage in any story is the Return with the Elixir where the hero returns home with something to show for what he has been through, such as a souvenir or a takeaway from the journey. This allows the audience to understand the meaning of the journey, transforms them, and brings a sense of completion.
The Hero’s Journey is the most powerful pattern for stories. A well-crafted speech takes the audience on an adventure along with the hero of the story. When you tell personal stories or share clients’ experiences using this structure, you will effortlessly inspire your audience.
It’s part of the winning formula for a successful presentation.