136: How to Make Your Presentation as Compelling as a Movie with Ted Frank

By March 29, 2017Podcasts

 

Backstories Studio Principal Ted Frank shows how to apply Hollywood tools to create and give great presentations.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The fundamental key to captivating people
  2. Best practices to help your audience remember the crucial points
  3. Keys to keeping it simple and real in your presentation

About Ted

Ted Frank is the principal and story strategist for Backstories Studio, with clients like Netflix, ESPN, and Twitter. He is the author of Get to the Heart, a book on how to apply movie style storytelling to presentations.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Ted Frank Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Ted, thanks so much for joining us here on the How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Ted Frank
You know, it’s so great to be here, Pete. I’ve listened to your podcast a bunch of times, and you are so much fun.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, shucks. Well, flattery will get you everywhere, Ted. Thank you. Well, so, could you, maybe, open us up by sharing some of your back story with your career and how you ended up starting up Backstories Studio?

Ted Frank
I had a really whacky, whacky trajectory to Backstories. I started in advertising which is a fabulous fun place to start. And one of the things that advertising teaches you how to be is simple.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Ted Frank
Because you can’t survive a week in advertising without being simple. You have to call everything down to 30 seconds. It’s all about being simple. So, that was the first stop. And then one day I get this freelance assignment at a consumer insights and strategy firm, and back when I was at the ad agency that was something that we never paid attention to.

You know, it was kind of like on the Mad Men when the research people walked in and they bring Dante for this big, fat deck report and then he throws in the garbage that was pretty much us. We thought we know what we were doing. We were here to really make things entertaining and fun. My whole objective was to get girls.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Did it work?

Ted Frank
It did a good job of it, yeah, because advertising, especially back then, was a really sexy career. So, anyway, though, I take this job at this consumer insights and strategy firm, and I walked in the door and the first thing I see is this wall of photos. And I walked up to it and I picked up this picture from the wall, and then this researcher comes up and he starts telling me this story about the picture.

And it’s about this woman and she’s part of a weight loss project and she had had a really hard time losing weight after she had had her two girls. But now she’s now about getting close to 50 and they were teenagers and she really wanted to be a good example for them, and she thought that her time might be running out and it really, really freaked her out. And when he told me that story that was the first time that I ever felt for a consumer or a target market or anybody.

Pete Mockaitis
Emotionally, like, “Whoa. That could be hard.”

Ted Frank
Yeah, and I had done tons of ads for this chain of gyms and I never thought about them. But the difference was instead of getting a big, fat deck-full of stats and stuff that never really spoke to me and that was just too intimidating, and that I was too lazy to look through, he gave me a story and that just changed everything for me because I realized that was the connection that I was missing.

And then when I worked at this, I eventually worked there for six years and became their creative director, I saw so many really brilliant people do great work and work so hard at it and then go present it to clients that had paid them half a million dollars for it, and I would still see so much of this great, great work end up going nowhere and it just broke my heart to see this stuff. So, I realized that the bridge still needed to be built and I needed to do it in a really compelling way.

When I got to starting Backstories it came right at this moment that in film that was really revolutionary where all of a sudden you didn’t need a $15,000 camera that didn’t look that great anyway. You could shoot film, you could shoot video on a DSLR that would cost you about $800 and it would look fabulous. And I thought, “You know, this is the missing piece I’ve always needed, was I needed video to really show that emotion, to show that story and really bring it to life.” Then I started Backstories to kind of just do videos for strategy and for all kinds of internal projects for large corporations.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s so good. And so in your book here Get to the Heart, you make a point that the video, the story, the movie magic is mightily effective and compelling and be kind of conscientiously sort of fuse with our free time and money to engage in these movies. So, what is it about that storytelling that’s super effective and compelling compared to what we normally do?

Ted Frank
Well, yeah, that’s the other part was that I wanted to give somebody or give these people something every day so that’s why I started looking at the way movies tell stories so that besides just giving people videos we could give them these tools. What movies do really, really well is they keep things very simple, they make them very real for us. So even if it’s a story, it’s a way of the future in a planet thousands of miles or millions of miles away, we can still feel like we’re there and we can relate to everything, and they make it very powerful and emotional.

And all those things are very, very coveted for executives who are watching presentations. That is exactly what they want. They want it to be quick, they want it to be visual and they want it to be powerful. So, what I did was looked at all the different ways that movies tell stories and really broke it down, and then looked at what corporations really need in presentations and then kind of applied one to the other and re-purposed movie sell storytelling and their techniques into that corporate environment.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, I want to sort of dig into all of these techniques that we can fit with the time we have available. But you say that there is one ingredient in particular that can make everything engaging. What is this ingredient?

Ted Frank
This is something that’s beyond movies, it’s beyond presentations, it’s beyond even communication. I think this key ingredient is in everything that we find captivating. It’s in yoga. It’s in sports. It’s in spicy food. It’s in sex.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay, wow.

Ted Frank
It is tension.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s so meta. Thank you, Ted.

Ted Frank
It’s that stretch and release. It’s like in sports, it’s the ball going up and then coming down for the catch. That is what makes everything captivating. So, if you can put tension into your presentation then you can get people to really engage. You can get them to lean forward in their seats and you can set them up for something that movies do amazingly well, which is that movies create moments.

And so if you stretch the tension up and then you release it, right at that moment you release it, it’s like a mic drop. And you can really get them to really remember what you said. There are a couple key ways that are really easy that people can use tension to create that effect, and I’ll give you a couple of them.

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s do it, please.

Ted Frank
Okay. Like my favorite is movies create tension with framing and that’s the way that the camera puts people in the picture. And one of the techniques they use is called the dolly push shot, and you see the dolly push shot in every hero movie, every love scene. What it is, is when they want you to emotionally bond with the characters they raise the tension up by moving the camera toward the actors so they become bigger and bigger in the frame.

Yeah, you see it in every hero shot. They just get bigger and bigger and bigger because they move the camera on the dolly. You can do that with your feet. If you have a big point that you want to make, you move slowly toward your stakeholders. You just walk slowly toward them and you increase that tension. And right at the point that you are about to make your key point, you stop, make your key point and then you back up and you release that tension and let them absorb it.

It sounds like not much on the phone when we’re talking here but you do it for real and you will feel the power of it. It’s like a super power. Give it a try.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. So, to recap. In order to execute this, there is a big moment and then as we’re sort of waiting for it, you’re walking closer toward the audience and then once you sort of release it, very closely you sort of back up to where you were before.

Ted Frank
Yeah. Basically, as you back up that will release the tension so that lets them absorb it and gives them room. And there are a number of ways you can manage tension and create release tension. In a presentation that’s just one of them but a lot of them are that easy.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, that’s fascinating. And so I guess I’m thinking about when you do that what should that correspond with in terms of the content or the piece of the story or presentation that you’re sharing?

Ted Frank
Well, there’s usually like three points that you want to make in every presentation that they have to remember.

Pete Mockaitis
Right.

Ted Frank
So, picking these key moments in your presentation when you want to make that sucker stick that’s when you do it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so those are sort of moments as oppose to the outline of there are three key components to our go-to market strategies. It’s more so like the moment within like the, “Oh.” There is the secret ninja tactic or there’s the key kind of shift in our thinking.

Ted Frank
Yeah, exactly. The three points that you choose that they’ll remember, often what those can be is one might be about urgency and really help them understand, “This is why you’re here in this room. This is why it’s important to you and this is why you have to listen.” And that usually is in the beginning of the presentation. That might not have much to do with the message you’re delivering but really setting the stage for why you’re there and it’s really, really important because that’s going to make them pay attention to you.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Ted Frank
You have to create that void. So, really creating something that heightens that urgency there, creating a moment around that is really important.

Pete Mockaitis
Another thing that, I guess, that comes to mind for me in terms of my experience of tension is that there’s like a mystery. It’s like, “What’s going on with that?” And then it gets sort of deepened, like, “Well, that doesn’t explain it. That just makes it all the more crazy or confounding or surprising.”

Ted Frank
Yeah, you really bring up a good point. When you don’t know what’s going, you don’t know exactly what the punch line is, that actually is one thing that stories do really well that business does not. When we’re presenting our slides we’re taught, “Make your big point in the headline and then substantiate with a bullet, substantiate with another bullet and then substantiate it with another bullet.” So, it’s like you already give them the big thing, and then you’re just creating this downward slide and engagement by giving them all these different pieces of information that support it but because they’ve already gotten the really big point already they don’t really need to listen to you.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s so fascinating because I’ve been taught and have taught sort of answer-first communication just like that. My slide headline says the key takeaway, and in some ways I guess that’s efficient. It’s like, “Okay, you’re clued in, you’re focused, you’re engaged on the thing that I’m trying to convey so there’s less ambiguity and it’s sort of clear and efficient.” But from our human wiring, you’re saying that is less so likely to captivate attention.

Ted Frank
Yeah, I think actually the reasons why executives taught that method is I think they expect to be bored so they just want it. They want permission to go to sleep. And that’s why they say, “Give me the executive summary right away,” and it’s because they just want to go to sleep. Or I think they need to zone out. They can only pay attention to so much. I’m badmouthing executives. They are really smart people and I really feel for them because they have to sit like six to seven meetings a day and probably see a thousand charts a day. And there’s no way in hell anybody can pay attention that long.

But, yeah, you take that model of big headline that substantiate, substantiate, substantiate and you do it in a movie way, movies actually reverse it. And what movies do is they’ll give you those things that might be substantiation and they’ll give them to you first, this kind of clues that draw you toward the big point and build your anticipation so that you are at the edge of your seat. Even if you already know what’s going to happen it still makes you really anticipate. And I’ll give you a great example.

And this is what I actually do in the workshops that we do. It’s like contrast the way that business does it with something that they learned from newspapers which is newspapers have the big headline and then the story. So, we have this headline of “Sharks Kill Two Off Australia Coast,” and then they give the article. But you don’t even need the article because you know exactly what happened.

You contrast that with like Jaws or any shark attack movie, the first thing you’re going to see is the swimmer who’s got no care in the world, la-di-da-di-da-di-da, then you hear the music and you know something awry. Then you see the fin which is like, you know, so it’s basically building you those clues. And then you see the swimmer again and a couple of more shots and it’s all leading you toward what you know is going to happen, and then just when they have you where they want you that’s when they give you the bite.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes.

Ted Frank
They would never start with the bite. It leads you toward it. Yeah, it draws you toward that key point. And you can actually do that in your presentation just by the way you order things and by the way that you kind of modulate your voice and build up dramatically toward it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, I guess I want to go there next actually. You talked about some movies and scenes and shots and how that shows up. To what extent can that find its way into a PowerPoint deck? Or is it sort of you’re saying PowerPoint decks are an inferior means of conveying your message?

Ted Frank
Well, they’re the bread and butter of a business so I definitely don’t discount them in any way, and they can be used really, really well, and you can create a lot of great communication and very powerful communication and even movies tell communication just within PowerPoint. But videos can take it to a whole other level which is why when I get to the high-stakes presentation section part or second part of the book, I include a lot of video samples because that is where you’re really going to be able to show action that, especially if you’re talking about the way consumers use products, it really shows you what’s going on.

And it’s also how you really communicate emotion and really get somebody into that feeling space of what the market is doing or what the employees are really up against. All those emotions can really be heightened by video, and it’s really easy to integrate into PowerPoint.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Great.

Ted Frank
It’s almost as easy as inserting a picture.

Pete Mockaitis
I hear you. So, it’s just the raw mechanics of insert video into a slide. It can certainly be done. And so if you have video handy, I’m hearing you say, “Go for it. Use it.” You may often not have the opportunity to sort of get a film crew or production budget going to make the video that you want. So, if you are kind of confined to sort of slides and images what are some of your pro tips for using those optimally?

Ted Frank
Well, definitely keeping everything really simple will really help you a lot. I’d say just try to make just one point on every slide, and usually there is only one point that you want to make. And parse things out in a way that’s really easy for people to get. Before you worry about being creative, just be simple. Your audience will thank you a billion times for being simple and you’ll already be so far ahead of everybody else because no one else is.

Pete Mockaitis
So, make it simple, that’d be like rather than just use, “Hey, this is our standard report associated with how our call center’s average handle time has been progressing over the month,” with like all kinds of complex line chart things going on, you might just have the one point. It’s like, “This month our handle time has been terrible,” and then you just sort of show, “Hey, average today, what the heck?” Is that what you’re saying there?

Ted Frank
Yeah, exactly. Like, what is it that’s important to your audience? What do they need to do with your information and what in your information will help them do that right?

Pete Mockaitis
Right. It’s so simple, yes. What do I need to do and what do I need to share with them for them to do that well?

Ted Frank
Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Cool.

Ted Frank
And so, often, a lot of the work that I do with people is kind of just liberating for the fact that you don’t have to state the facts. State the meaning of the facts.

Pete Mockaitis
Yes.

Ted Frank
Just like when you’re talking to them about your slide. Instead of just relying on your voice, put it on the slide, too, and it’ll just be so much quicker and they’ll appreciate it so much more.

Pete Mockaitis
That is nice. So, when it comes to executing the actual sort of elements of the data, of the charts, one key point there is to keep those simple. Anything else when it comes to showing data in a PowerPoint yet being engaging?

Ted Frank
Yeah. Well, every single data point is either about something that is happening or something that has an opportunity to happen. And talking about those and showing those as example stories will make it real for people which is the kind of the second point of the book is to help people make it real. So, instead of talking about, “It’s this percentage of, let’s say, millennials,” don’t just make it that vague because that’s very abstract for people and it’s really hard for them to put a handle and really visualize.

So, if you tell an example story with it, it just needs to say like, let’s say, Pete instead of millennials, and you show a picture of Pete, and you show a picture of Pete in a relevant way with the way the data is then people can really understand it much more easily. It doesn’t have to be about, let’s say, a fake person. If you can make it about a real person it’s even better.

Pete Mockaitis
I hear you. Okay. Thank you. Understood. So, rather than, “Hey, 72% of millennials think this,” we could just say, “All right, this is representative and typical of a millennial, and here is this millennial, their experience and how they’re thinking and reacting to it.”

Ted Frank
Yeah. I’ll give you a great example. In one of the stories we tell in the book is about Save the Children. And Save the Children had this experiment that they wanted to do at college campuses because they wanted to figure out, “How can we maximize donation?” So, they thought college campus are full of the most thrifty people in the world, in the planet.

So, they said, “Okay, let’s give them just a survey. It doesn’t really matter what it’s about, and then we’ll offer them $5 to do this survey. And then we’ll give them a piece of paper about our organization that ask them if they want to give some of that $5 back.” And for half the groups they gave them a stat that said like, “Sixty-two million girls need your help.” And it was a stat so it was very hard for people to grasp, and it was big. And then the other ones they had one story about one little girl and it was a very short story. And she pulled more than twice as many dollars back as the stat.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Ted Frank
And it’s all because she’s relatable. You can see her. She’s a person. She’s not a 62 million. It’s putting things in human terms with an example story really, really helps.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. That’s so good. Thank you. And so, tell me, what about the other, would you say, most sort of compelling, impactful takeaways in your book Get to the Heart?

Ted Frank
Well, definitely making it powerful and creating a dramatic arc with your presentation that can do kind of like what Paul Zak, the guest that you had on your last podcast, really brought to my mind. And I am a huge Paul Zak fan. It was one of the most fun couple of hours of my life when I went down to Claremont and I interviewed him and learned all about oxytocin and cortisol.

And that dramatic arc is what makes those two things mix in your head and it creates this amazing cocktail that first gets people to really focus and then, second, opens them up to your ideas and makes them want to do more and be more and inspires them. And all of those things can happen if you create this dramatic arc with your presentation.

Pete Mockaitis
So, when you say dramatic arc, could you give us maybe, I don’t know, if there’s three points along the arc? What are the key stages of the arc and maybe an example to make it come to life?

Ted Frank
Well, one arc that I found really works well in corporations is to really start with that urgency piece that I talked about before. Give them a sense of, “We have to do this. This is so important. The time is now. The window is closing.” Anything like that that can create a real sense of urgency for what you’re talking about and why they should listen to you.

Then you build that up toward the high point of the arc which is all about desire and about inspiration and why your idea has such a huge payoff, and that’s where you really bring to life the reward that they’re going to get from that. And not just in monetary terms but in really emotional terms that will really matter to them.

It’s one thing to get 12% of a $4 billion market. It’s another thing to beat your competitors to the punch. That’s what people really glom onto. You want to have those kind of bragging rights. You want to have that feel-good. You want to solve a problem. You want to help people. Or you want to be the best. Those kinds of emotional things are so much more engaging than just dollar sense.

So, you start from urgency, you build up that arc up to desire and then I like to end the arc on confidence and evoking confidence in your ability to carry it out. So that could be either by really outlining your next steps or your strategy or your action items that basically tell them, “All those things that they said that they could bring to us, I trust these guys. They are going to do it. They’re going to get it done. Or they’ve got a plan to manage it.” It creates this arc of, “We have to do this. We want to do this. And we know we can do it.”

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s so fun. So, could you maybe walk us through an example of that coming to life in a business-type presentation scenario?

Ted Frank
Let me think about that one because there are so many that come to mind. There are so many confidential presentations that every one that’s coming to mind now, I’m like, “Hmm, can’t talk about that. Can’t talk about that.”

Okay. There is one that I did for one of the big auto companies and it was all about the future. One thing that they realized, as they were doing all this research with consumers about the future and about people moving to cities, is that the kinds of cars that people would drive would really consolidate. Cars had to do a lot more for people than they do today.

We can have many, many different types of cars now because they only need to do a couple of things. But they knew that the cars would have to do more and they knew that this was an edge. So, first, the urgency was positioning at, “This is where it’s going. This is what’s going to happen. Nobody else knows about this yet.”

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Ted Frank
So, now it’s like, “Holy shit, we might actually have ourselves an edge here.” And then we built it toward what the strategy and the design principles. So it really built up this case of, “Not only do we have an edge on the timing here, but we know how to do this thing so well. This car is so unbelievably hot.” And then it climaxed to the unveiling of what the actual car design was and kind of had this movie that the car designers put together of people enjoying it and all the different uses. And it made everybody in the audience just salivate for that car.

And then the last point on confidence was that they unveiled that a lot of investment in the car was already taken care of because it can be built on a couple different platforms that they were already going. So, it not only made it something that was amazing but it was something that was actually practical and a lot cheaper than they would’ve imagined.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Now, that’s a fun story. And I’m imagining, if this is going to a sort of board of directors of a car company? Is that the audience there?

Ted Frank
Exactly.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And so this board of directors is probably they’re engaged, they’re feeling it emotionally. So, now, they also want probably some numbers and data that reinforce that that’s sort of big time and sensible and logical and rational? Or is that kind of a subcomponent of the desire? It’s like it’s so cool and there’s ton of money in it. Or where does that fall into the milieu?

Ted Frank
Well, you hit a really good point which is the data here is probably do establish credibility that we know the hell what we’re talking about. And in this case, because we were talking about the future, there are some stats you can bring up, but what we decided to do was actually bring in some experts. We had an urban planning expert, we had a car industry expert, and we had a couple of academics, and we had a futurist.

And all of those people talking about the future and talking about where things were going really put a lot of credibility into the piece that we knew, or since we couldn’t get actual data for what the future holds, that would give us the next best thing and I think it probably did a lot for the credibility of the whole project.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you. That’s great.

Ted Frank
Yeah, and a lot of times that’s when people ask for data and things like that, and they’re really asking for more credibility because they’re afraid that they’re going to get called on the carpet, and they really need some reassurance, again it’s always emotional. But one of the things that I found is that if you can get someone high up in the organization to vouch for something that trumps a billion charts. It really is all about fighting fear. And it’s like if somebody can alleviate your fear from the top, you don’t need nearly as much data anymore.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s something I want to chew on. I like that because I’m super data-loving, but I think you really hit on something here which is that data is a means to an end of providing reassurance, of providing credibility and that’s not the only game in town to provide reassurance and credibility.

Ted Frank
Yeah. You definitely need data to make sure that you’re doing it correctly, and data serves an amazing purpose. But, yeah, in terms of just that you can get credibility in other places.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Well, now, also I’m curious to hear, you recommend integrating music into a presentation. How does work exactly?

Ted Frank
Absolutely. I think music is one of the most powerful tools in the world for getting people right into that emotional space that you want, right into that time period, that feeling. And it’s definitely something that takes some skill to use. Like, I use music in about five or six different points in my presentations and workshops, and I’ve had a lot of practice at it so I know how to work the iPad and the computer at the same time. But I wouldn’t advise that for most people because not only is it more difficult but also you don’t want to be looked at as like a DJ when you’re trying to give a presentation. You don’t want to be gimmicky.

But there are two ways to do it really easily. Number one is if you do have video in your presentation, having music in those videos will really help communicate the emotion for that video. It’ll help move the whole presentation along and make it feel a lot shorter than it is, and it also means you only have to hit one play button and it feels appropriate. So that is the first place that I would put music in, so that’s one place.

And then one of the things that nobody does in corporations, that I think is amazingly successful in every time I’ve seen it, is you play music when people walk into the conference room. It can’t be any kind of music. It has to be positive. It has to be universally loved. So things like Pharrell and Michael Jackson and Kool & the Gang. The things that just make people relax and feel good will automatically put people in a place that will open up their minds to what you have to say. It’ll shed all the awful meetings that they’ve had that day off of their backs, and it’ll also tell them very quickly that this is going to be unlike any presentation they’ve had that day.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, that’s so fun. I’ve done that many times. That’s sort of standard issue if I’m keynoting somewhere or have a workshop coming up. While folks are just trickling in, I mean, why not? It’s like a simple lever that puts people in a receptive mood, go for it.

Ted Frank
Absolutely, yeah.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, so, I’m curious. Some of these moves, when it comes to integrating video or having more of a dramatic arc or integrating music, I think some of these really brush off some of the corporate norms, and I guess that’s kind of the point – do it differently, do it better. At the same time, it’s quite possible, if you’re a professional in sort of the middle of the rungs of an organization, there could be a little bit of, I don’t know, fear, trepidation, anxiety associated with being too far out there. So, how do you navigate those waters?

Ted Frank
You know, I get that question every single time I do a workshop, and it is hard to be the first and it definitely takes a courageous person, but I swear to God, if you do it smart and you don’t let it overtake your message and you do it in a way that will be universally loved, then people will go for it. People will really relish it. It will leapfrog you past all the other people that are afraid to do it.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Ted Frank
You know, this is about being awesome at your job. You can’t be awesome if you’re on the sidelines.

Pete Mockaitis
Understood. All right. Well, Ted, we trust, we’ll make a run at it, make a go for it and see how that unfolds. And so tell me, Ted, is there anything else you really want to make sure we cover off before we shift gears and hear about some of your favorite things?

Ted Frank
I think you’ve done a great job, Pete. You’ve asked so many great questions.

Pete Mockaitis
Again, flattery.

Ted Frank
I guess the only other point I would make is, well, you know, actually I might just save this one for my resonant nugget. So I’m going to do that.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Strategic. Let’s do it. So, start us off. Tell us what’s a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Ted Frank
One of the things when I was researching the book, I talked to a bunch of my favorite clients. And one of my favorite clients is Dave Decelle from Netflix. He is a fabulous storyteller. He is a fabulous presenter. And he said, “If you never turn away from your audience they’ll never turn away from you.”

And I think he hit that really well because he and I both feel the same way that you should stand up, get in front of the screen and look people in the eye, and memorize your presentation. Know it. Own it. And if you look at them and you never take your eyes off them, they won’t take their eyes off you. You’ll have that engagement you’re looking for. So, thanks, Dave, for that quote.

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, thank you. And how about a favorite study or experiment or a piece of research?

Ted Frank
You know, I mentioned it before, I am a big fan of Paul Zak. And that research that he did on oxytocin and cortisol just blew my mind. I’ve never even thought about neuroscience before that but it’s huge and it actually brings me back to the book, which is I’m reading the Trust Factor right now which is his new one. It’s a fabulous read and when I’m all done with it then I will tell you more about it.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, could you share with us, again, or in addition, a favorite book?

Ted Frank
So, that’s the one I’m reading right now. I’ve always loved Catcher in the Rye, that’s always been one of my favorite books, too. That kind of hero really speaks to me and I’m kind of a curmudgeon, and reading that adventure was always so much fun. And I read it about, let’s say, every 10, 15 years. I’m probably due for another read soon, and it’s always been one of my favorite books.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, thank you. And how about a favorite tool whether that’s a product or service or app, something that helps you be more awesome at your job?

Ted Frank
I’m going to go low-tech here.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay.

Ted Frank
I think actually people should use their eyes and ears much more now. We’ve kind of gotten away from that. But I swear to God, if you want to be engaging with somebody, listen to them and really actively listening. Kind of like the shrinks in a marriage counseling who tell you to do with your girlfriend or your wife when you’re sitting on that couch – actively listen.

Not only will they love you or they’ll like you much more, not only will you get so much more out of them, but it’s actually much more fulfilling to be in that conversation when you really are actively listening. So use those ears.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And how about a favorite habit, a personal practice of yours that helps you flourish?

Ted Frank
One of the biggest improvements I made, and I just kind of talked about, is when I was presenting I got up from behind the projector like most people do, and I stood up in front of the screen, and I memorized my presentation. And that took me a whole another level because people found me so much more credible and authoritative because I was willing to stand up for what I was saying, and I was also able to use my body language because now they could see me.

And so much of the language or the communication we have comes from our bodies. And it was just much more fulfilling, I felt. It forced me to memorize my presentations and really own it, and it felt so good to do it. Like when you give a keynote I assume that you probably do it the same way. Don’t you feel kind of like a god when you’re up there?

Pete Mockaitis
Oh, yes, but particularly if the lighting is good.

Ted Frank
Yeah. So, yes.

Pete Mockaitis
So, you’re saying that would apply in conference rooms as well. There’s this 12 seats in the conference room, it’s your part of the presentation. You’d say standing is the way to go.

Ted Frank
Absolutely. Get up from behind that projector. Stand up and that will take you to a whole another level.

Pete Mockaitis
Thank you. And so you were saving a favorite resonant nugget. What is it?

Ted Frank
It is that all these things that are actually a lot easier than you might think. Applying movie-style storytelling to presentations seems like a lot to chew on but it’s actually so much easier than you think. Listening to people and really actively listening feels like it’s difficult, and it is at first, but it’s so much easier once you get into it. So that’s my, I think, big takeaway from everything I’ve learned, is just give it a go.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. And do you have a parting information in terms of how folks should reach out or get in touch if they want to learn more?

Ted Frank
Yeah, everything is on the website GetToTheHeartBook.com. We’ve got those video blogs that you talked about. There’s also an area where you can ask me questions. There’s all kinds of other areas. There’s links to the video and audio stuff and the book. Then there’s also links to how you can get the book.

Pete Mockaitis
Okay. Thank you. And do you have a final call to action for those seeking to be more awesome at their jobs?

Ted Frank
Yes. I would say to you, first, make everything easy for the people you’re presenting to. Then make it compelling.

Pete Mockaitis
All right.

Ted Frank
But don’t be boring. Don’t be like everybody else.

Pete Mockaitis
Got it. Well, Ted, thank you so much. This has been a real treat, and I’m really looking forward to your subsequent video blogposts. They’re so excellent. And I wish you luck with the book and Backstories and all that you’re up to.

Ted Frank
Oh, thanks, Pete. I am so happy to be on your show, and I can’t wait to listen to all the future shows.

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The Gold Nugget

The Gold Nugget

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