Bringing the Power of Movies to the Conference Room (With and Without Video)

When it comes to attracting, training, motivating, and unifying employees, more and more companies are using a powerful new tool. It's not a new technology. Rather, it's a technique based on something we already know and love: movies.

We've all experienced how powerful movies are. In seconds, they can make even the most distant planet feel real. Their heroes teach and inspire us. The moments they create move us, shape our opinions, and rally us together. That's why companies are increasingly using videos and movie-style storytelling to harness that speed and power for internal communication and presentations. Here are just a few examples of how they're doing it:


When you're courting new employees, a movie that positions your company as a strategic leader headed for bigger things can be especially attractive. It also doesn't hurt to show how fun your employees are. Even more persuasive is presenting your people as colleagues your prospects can look up to. A short movie can do that for you and bring out the true personality of your company to new prospects.

Rallying New and Current Employees Around the Mission

When starting a new job, most employees are handed a stack of decks that leave them completely lost. What if, instead, you show new hires a dynamic five-minute movie telling the company's story, mission, and strategy? New hires will be excited, retain more, and start contributing right away. If you include stories of real customers and get the company's leaders on camera, your film can also breathe life into the company's mission in ways no written statement can achieve.


Even without video, the way movies tell stories is actually a surprisingly good fit for corporate execs. Movie storytelling is built on the same principles they are currently seeking in presentations: being simple, quick, visual, and powerful.

Using the Screenwriter Approach to Simplify

Screenwriters are able to write so quickly because they start with three key scenes, then build the rest of the movie around them. You can do the same thing: Decide which three things in your presentation are most important to your stakeholders and emphasize those. You'll find this method makes it easier to write your presentation, and  because you're emphasizing just three keys, you'll be able to choose what people remember. Think about what would happen if you tried to evenly emphasize 10 different points!

Using the Director's Approach to Make It Quick, Real, and Relevant

Every slide, even a data point or chart, is about something. That means it can be described as a scene, with characters, a setting, and action. Describing your slides in these terms will make it much easier for your stakeholders to grasp the main ideas because you will give them something to relate to.

One good way to find the scene in your slide or chart is with two words you use all the time: "For example." Look at your data point, and then say, "For example ..." This will immediately put characters, a setting, and action in your head. Then, if you make it visual, you'll make your point even more quickly and put everyone on the same page because they will all see it the same way.

When You Really Need to Hit It Out of the Park, Make It Powerful

For the everyday presentation, being simple and relevant is often enough. However, when the stakes are especially high, you can take it up a level and truly move your stakeholders with movies that start with an emotional arc.

The emotional arc holds us in our seats, makes us love and remember movies, and floods our brains with two amazing hormones: cortisol, which makes us focus, and oxytocin, which opens us up to new ideas and inspires us.

You can spark these two hormones with an arc I've seen work time and time again in corporations: establish urgency, build desire for your idea, and finish by evoking confidence. That arc will take your stakeholders through an emotional journey of we need to do this, we want to do this, and we can do this – all of which will build support for your insights and ideas.

Those are just a few of the movie-style strategies companies are using today. There are many, many more. None of these strategies are all that difficult to implement, and they can all make a huge difference in your ability to connect, communicate, and inspire.

Ted Frank is the author of Get to the Heart. As a story strategist at Backstories Studio, he uses movie-style storytelling to help people make their presentations quicker, more visual, and more emotionally effective.