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12 Ways to Become a Speaking Star:
What Hollywood Can Teach You about Great Presentation Skills

Every keynote speaker, business presenter, and sales professional can become a speaking star. How? By
incorporating 12 basic Hollywood principles into their presentations. These include how to choose a
structure, come up with great stories, craft a flavor scene, write vivid dialogue, use scene changes, and
go out with a bang. Audiences remember great films and great speeches for the same reasons. Put the
full power of Hollywood techniques behind your presentations.

What makes a good Hollywood movie? Exactly the same principles that make a great keynote speech, executive
presentation, or important business conversation.

Why? Imagine that you have unlimited resources to create a speech that will make you the hottest commodity
on the market, inspire your colleagues, or motivate your staff. Where would you go to get the best, highestpriced
writers and directors in the world?


The good news is that you probably don’t need unlimited resources to hire an Oscar winning writer and director.
Just learn to adapt basic Hollywood techniques to increase the impact of your keynote speeches, business
presentations, and persuasive sales conversations.

1. Embrace the Creative Process

Our first step is to look at the creative process. Comedian George Carlin said, “Creating a great speech or
comedy routine is more like going on a field trip than working in a laboratory.” He meant that the creative
process isn’t neat and tidy. It’s rambling and messy. To create your masterpiece of a presentation, get
comfortable with exploring and experimenting. Forget the PowerPoint. That’s tidy. With a yellow pad, flip
chart, or whiteboard, start by listing or mind mapping what content could go in your presentation. You want
stories, examples, quotes, statistics, your corporate message, and client successes. Then take the results of the
“field trip” into the “laboratory.” That’s when you organize your presentation into a conversational and logical
structure. One of the biggest mistakes my executive clients and sales teams make is to have someone else create
the PowerPoint before they craft their speech or presentation.

“If you had just one sentence rather than forty-five minutes, what would you say?” That’s what I ask my
executive coaching clients. Their reply often becomes their opening line. A particularly compelling one is:

“Every [describe who is the audience] can [name the subject of your talk].”

You’ve got their attention and focused them on your topic. But there are dozens of others.

One of my favorite clients, Bernard, answered, “This is a brand new company.” “Then write this down,” I told
him. “Your opening line is, ‘Welcome to a brand new company.’”

Next we needed to add the stories, characters, and dialogue, plus the “So what?” that would make a memorable
and persuasive speech. So I asked Bernard a series of questions:

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