Friday, January 22, 2010

Presentation lesson from George Clooney’s Up In The Air movie

A number of people have mentioned to me recently that I needed to go see the latest George Clooney movie Up In The Air. It is about an executive with an outplacement firm whose job it is to fire employees for bosses that don’t want to do it themselves. He travels over 350,000 miles a year and because I do some travelling, people thought I would like the movie. So this past weekend we went to see it.

Now I don’t travel anywhere near the amount that the character in the movie does. I probably get on 15-20 flights a year. But the scenes of how he methodically packs and the routine he has for airport security were dead on. I have developed a method for packing my easy-to-tote carry-on case and when I approach security, I remove all potential metal objects: belt, watch, shoes, etc. And I must admit as someone who travels frequently, I agree with his observation that some people who travel don’t know the rules and delay the security process for everyone.

Clooney’s character also gives a few speeches during the movie as a sideline to what he does. He uses a backpack metaphor for his message and brings a backpack on stage and places it on a table as a prop. It is effective. But then he gets asked to present at a big conference and this time the organizers decide that they need to add a visual on the large screens beside the stage. They choose a backpack photo that spins the entire time he is speaking.

The spinning backpack distracts you from the message and provides a good lesson for presenters. I have always advocated that a visual should be used only when it adds to your message. The spinning backpack is a great example of a visual being forced into the presentation because the organizers were not comfortable with a black screen. It does not add to the message and it actually distracts the audience.

As presenters, be comfortable with the focus being on just you and your message. Don’t feel that you always need a visual for everything you say. Use a black slide to focus attention away from the screen and on to you. If you are using a prop, turning off the slides is a good idea so that they do not compete with the prop. Be mindful of when you use projected visuals and you will use them more effectively.


Post a Comment

<< Home