20 June 2014

The Three-Act Structure: Set Up, Confrontation and Resolution

Recently, I wrote an article in whichstarting from a Demian Farnworth's idea—I introduced the three-act structure, a storytelling technique used in writing, movies, plays and any other production built around a story. My idea was to show you how you can apply this formula in a presentation to create messages that get across and win customers over.
Recently, I found a great example of this technique: the latest Nike's video The Last Game, created for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. I recommend you to watch it, especially if you are a football fan. It's memorable. Try as well to watch it in the context of a three-act structure, you'll see how it clearly follows a pattern with a set up, a confrontation and a resolution

First Act: The Set up
The first act starts by showing football as the game we all love. It's fun, joyful and full of great champions. Suddenly, though, a problem occurs: a ruthless man wants to rebuild football in order to make it predictable and less risky. He argues that "even the greatest players of our time make mistakes. They take too many risks. After all, they're only human. But what if they weren't?". To achieve his mission, he has created Clones with flawless decision making for guaranteed results. The Clones would replace the original players and football would change forever. This turning point raises a dramatic question: will we ever see again the phenomenal game we have all grown up with?

Second Act: The Confrontation
Act two is an attempt to solve the problem occurred during the turning point. Ronaldo "The Phenomenon"one of the greatest players in the history of this gamestands up to save football. However, the original players—who in the meantime have been kicked out—don't seem to believe in their ability to beat the Clones. This is because they need to achieve a higher sense of awareness of who they are and what they are capable of. That's why they need Ronaldo as a Mentor. The role of a Mentor is present in many movies. Only thanks to him can they reach that stage. He is able to make them believe in themselves and in their skills. They now know they can beat the Clones. 

Third Act: The Resolution
This is the final act. The Originals have decided to come back to challenge the Clones on the biggest match on Earth. If they lose, they'll quit forever. It's a first-goal-wins game, there is no chance to make mistakes, a natural habitat for the flawless Clones. The game is exciting, the Orginals have to face ups and downs because the Clones are hard to die. Finally, however, comes the desired goal. The Originals have beaten the Clones and the dramatic question is answered: football will continue to be the phenomenal game we all love. 

In a 5-minute video, Nike was able to apply the Aristotle's three-act structure. And this technique is valid any time there is a story to tell. In the article I mentioned above I gave you a real example of this storytelling formula being applied to a business presentation in order to make skeptical customers believe in your product. Yes there is a story behind your company. Yes there is a story behind your product. Yes there is a story behind your customers. So tell it! And make sure you divide it into three parts: set up, confrontation and resolution.  

How would you use this storytelling formula in your next presentation? 

If you like what you've just read, Click to Tweet