Storytelling 1: The Hero

Theo Millidonis L1, Cyprus

Theo Millidonis L1, Cyprus

Can a presentation be truly captivating and hold the audience’s attention like nothing else matters in the world? Just think about how a great story makes us feel; there are a handful of key elements always present within a truly great story. Every great story has a hero who is central to the plot and a mentor who guides the hero throughout their adventures. In this first instalment of the article series on Storytelling, we will have the pleasure to meet our hero!

Proven Elements of Great Storytelling

  • A problem is identified
  • A hero is called to action
  • There is resistance by the hero to face the challenge
  • A mentor appears
  • The challenge is accepted by the hero
  • The hero initially fails in his quest
  • The hero finally overcomes the challenge
  • We have a resolution of the problem
  • This brings about positive change for all

Outlined above is the premise of every single blockbuster movie! Now think about how much more effective our presentations could become if we were to put them into such a story form… Together we will find out how to do this within our two-article series on Storytelling.

What we need to do if we want to deliver a great story, is to understand our audience, make them realize what they need, and be able to click with them. In order for us to achieve this, we need to really get to know the audience and introduce ourselves genuinely in order to be able to form a strong enough bond with them, that will enable us to convey our story effectively. Your objective is to find the most relevant and believable way to link your issue to your audience’s top values and concerns.

Meet the Hero

a. Getting to Know the Hero

Yes, you guessed it; the hero, facing an insurmountable challenge in their life, is your audience, even if they do not know it yet! If you, as their mentor, are to guide them on their journey towards overcoming the challenge, it is important to know what makes your audience tick in order to connect with them. For instance, if you will be presenting a topic revolving around a recent policy change that has been causing a lot of buzz around the judge community, you will know that what will make the judges tick, is you giving them the ability to discuss the topic, give their views, express their opinions, and hopefully you, by serving as a facilitator could offer a satisfactory closure to the debate.

Tick = discussion

If on the other hand you are presenting a highly technical topic like for instance the Layers, or Replacement Effects, then what could make your audience tick in this case is lots and lots of practical examples. So therefore: 

Tick = lots of examples.

If we take the time to get to know our hero, we will be able to connect with them effectively.

b. How do you connect with the Hero?

Your heroes might be huddled together in the conference presentation area, but you shouldn’t view them as one big lump. Instead, imagine them all as wanting to have individual conversations with you.

It is also very useful to see exactly who the audience your presentation is aimed at is. Is it for instance a small group of Level 3 judges, or is it a crowd of Level 1’s. As mentioned by Ken Haemer:

‘Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter and addressing it “to whom it may concern”’

It does also help to split the audience into segments, but humans are more complicated than that. In order to connect personally, you have to bond with what makes people human. Liking your audience is the first step in being genuine with them. For instance, at the beginning of the blockbuster movie, the hero’s likability is usually established, by using one key scene. This has been coined as the ‘save the cat scene’ where we meet our hero and they do something honourable that defines who they are and what makes us like them. By answering the following questions you’ll uncover what makes your hero likeable:

  1. Lifestyle: What is it like being them and mainly, what do they do besides judging? Are they students or professionals, and do they judge for fun or for money?
  2. Knowledge: What do they already know about the topic you are presenting based on their level and experience within the Judge Program?
  3. Motivation and Desire: What gets them going? Are they part of any judge projects wanting to make a positive contribution to specific aspects of the Judge Program? Did they travel a long distance to attend the conference? Did they give up other judging opportunities in order to attend? Are they already invested in the topic of your presentation?
  4. Values: What is important to them, unites and incites them? Have they expressed their opinions about recent developments in the program, and do they agree or disagree with them with regard to both policy and program structure?
  5. Influence: What experiences have affected them? Do they travel to GP’s frequently, or are they mostly involved with their local communities, and do they judge mainly at Competitive or Regular REL?
  6. Respect: How do they give and receive it, and how can you respect them? Here it is worth to think of the geographical region, which the vast majority of judges present at your seminar will be from and respect the local customs accordingly.

Keep answering the questions outlined above until you begin to acquaint yourself with your heroes as people, and not simply judges. Your goal is to figure out what your audience cares about and link it to your idea. Remember, because they are human, their lives are complicated and they have their own cares and worries. They might also just be having a bad day! Look for insights into how your idea will alleviate pressure on them to take action and change things. For instance, they might be from a region which is facing a downturn in PPTQ attendance. You could use prior experience that you have in this area in order to give them ideas on how this problem might be solved.

In order to be able to effectively mentor your hero through their journey, you need to like them. After all they are the protagonists within your presentations! Who would like to sit through a whole movie and watch an unlikable main actor?

Throughout the next instalment of this series, we will be able to meet the Mentor needed to make a great story!


Is this an interesting read? Do you also have something to say about slides and seminars? We are always looking for feedback, but even more for collaborators! It doesn’t matter if you want to help writing already scheduled articles, or share entirely new ideas. Contact Theo, and let the Judge Community know what you think.