Ever since I was twelve years old, when I was first introduced to the James Bond books, I have had a fascination and admiration for the creator and author of the James Bond novels, Ian Fleming.
Ian Fleming with his ever present cigarette
Ian Fleming had a brilliant ability to bring people alive through the way he described them. No small detail was ever over-looked, and he used everyday products to give his characters some authenticity. He was a “people watcher” – a person who enjoyed looking at people and observing their mannerisms, their fashion style and the way they interacted with other people. This interest in people and their surroundings gave him the ability to replicate his observations in minute detail through his books.
Ian Fleming also based many of his characters on people he actually knew. While this sometimes caused offence to some people, it also helped him to create authenticity in his characters.
So. how does this help the humble presenter?
As this blog, and many other presentation blogs and books continue to advocate, telling stories in your presentation can take your presentation from being ‘just another boring presentation’ to becoming a great presentation. One way of telling compelling and interesting stories is to ‘set the scene’ to actually help your audience imagine the scene, the situation or the person you are describing. Ian Fleming had this ability, and while Ian Fleming was not presenting his characters using PowerPoint or Keynote, he was using this ability to become one of the twentieth century’s greatest fiction writers.
Here is an example of Ian Fleming’s writing. In this paragraph, taken from the first James Bond book, Casino Royale, Fleming is describing Felix Leiter, a character that comes up in many of his stories, as the CIA representative, and eventual close friend of James Bond.
Felix Leiter was about thirty-five. He was tall with a thin bony frame and his lightweight, tan-coloured suit hung loosely from his shoulders like the clothes of Frank Sinatra. His movements and speech were slow, but one had the feeling that there was plenty of speed and strength in him and that he would be a tough and cruel fighter. As he sat hunched over the table, he seemed to have some of the jack-knife quality of a falcon. There was this impression also in his face, in the sharpness of his chin and cheekbones and the wide wry mouth. His grey eyes had a feline slant which was increased by his habit of screwing them up against the smoke of the Chesterfields which he tapped out of the pack in a chain. The permanent wrinkles which this habit had etched at the corners gave the impression that he smiled more with his eyes than with his mouth. A mop of straw-coloured hair lent his face a boyish look which closer examination contradicted.
Just from this paragraph, you can imagine Felix Leiter vividly, you can imagine the clothes he is wearing and even the way he smokes his cigarettes.
When we present, and when we try to describe a situation to our audience, giving vivid, and precise descriptions of the characters in our stories helps our audience to build a clear picture of the scene or character. This not only helps our presentation to become more interesting and even entertaining, it also makes our presentation much more memorable. And that is always the ultimate goal.
So, next time you begin preparing your presentation, take time to think carefully about the stories you will use, how you describe the scene and characters in your stories really does make a huge impact on your presentation.