There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants for you than to have a rebirth story where the forces of goodness take over your life and bring you from the darkness into complete renewal. (Truthfully, though, the beauty of your particular soul–whatever state it is in–is eternally good.)
Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.
Today’s study tips are based on a reading of Stories that Move Mountains: Storytelling and Visual Design for Persuasive Presentations by Martin Sykes, Nicklas Malik and Mark D. West.
7 Basic Plots (and Your Rebirth Story Is One of Them)
The Study Dude, on a spiritual, Christian level, loves to hear any rebirth story where the individual rises up from dark forces and enters the realm of goodness.
This is just one of seven basic plot structures that have been identified that encompass practically all of the screenplay story structures available (Sykes, Malik, & West, 2013). Your presentations would benefit from following any one of these structures as they can make for compelling stories?and captivated audiences. Each one of these structures is ideally accompanied by a one page visual story that Sykes, Malik, and West (2013) cater to each individual plot structure.
Here are the seven basic plot structures that you might want to use as a guiding format for your next presentation:
– Overcoming the Monster. This plot is where you must overcome some negative force/thing/person that otherwise serves as a source of destruction. This monster could be some sort of major threat to your livelihood, for instance. An initial response to counter the threat is unsuccessful with the threat proving to be much more daunting and abominable. The hero increases strategies at defeating the threat, eventually finding a weakness in the monster that allows for the heroes success.
– The Quest. This plot involves the obstacles faced toward striving to achieve a goal. The goal could be a 4.0 GPA or a successful product launch. The goal is introduced as something potentially fallible (to create suspense), the steps and resources are brought to bear in the process of achieving the goal, and obstacles to the goal or overcome, climaxing at the most difficult obstacle. The goal’s achievement is the ending of the story.
– Voyage and Return. This plot deals with some type of journal, or travel, into a different world. This might involve devising a new work operation or a new study strategy that you are testing. The negative moments of the story might be finding out that your strategy has already been tested by others and failed or that your biggest rival has the same idea. The ending involves working out the strategy to reap the best outcomes.
– Comedy. This plot entails misunderstandings that need to be sorted away. Although there might be common goals, misunderstanding and tensions prevail that drive the outcome into disarray. The objective is to overcome the tension and rivalry, where, in some cases, an external person will sort out matters and unify the team.
– Tragedy. This is where the hero has a tragic story and does things in ways that aren’t considered acceptable behaviour, but the audience identifies and sympathizes with the hero, nonetheless. This could be a bankruptcy or failing to achieve an academic goal. The early stage of this process is seeing results and positives come to fruition, but obstacles arise that cannot be overcome easily by the hero.
– Rebirth. This involves being shackled to darker forces, only to be aided by a benevolent person who brings the hero into the light of goodness. The negative the hero could be doing could seem initially as positive, but the lack of values can cause outcomes such as a damaged reputation. Yet some positive human or force then comes along and turns the life of the hero around toward goodness or positive outcomes.
– Rags to Riches. This plot occurs when the hero goes from poverty to extreme riches or overwhelming status. The successful state is somehow revoked, and the hero must struggle against the villain to retain/exceed the former wealth. Overnight success in business or in academics might be one signal of the potential for this type of plot structure.
(Sykes, Malik, & West, 2013)
Sense of Urgency (Not Just Deadlines)
The Study Dude wants your audiences to act on the information you so painstakingly present in your PowerPoints. Although in a business context, a sense of urgency, as articulated by Sykes, Malik, and West (2013), escalates with the introduction of a number of relevant factors. The looming of a deadline might get the adrenaline junkies spurred to action, but other less pressing factors can fuel that overpowering sense of urgency that can motivate an audience to do your bidding in a flash.
– Obsolescence. The potential of your product or your ideas or creations becoming obsolete is enough to motivate anyone to reconsider the situation with some sense of urgency.
– Government Regulations. If, all of a sudden, your government stipulates disability access in, say, education, then, if you are disabled, you have a sense of urgency in getting to the details of the matter for your own benefit.
– Seasonality. Colors, trends, and fashions come, go, and return later on in a variant form. Seasonality can dictate a sense of urgency if you are a business wanting to make a profit out of your product ideas.
– Management Direction. If your manager has a vision or direction, then there is a sense of urgency to follow suit. (This could also apply to your teacher or some other leader, such as a priest/minister.
– Lost Business or Opportunity. The threat of losing a dream job (or even, say, losing your academic status) comes with a sense of urgency.
– Changing Social or Political Expectations. Cultural/political exigencies and changes can result in action being taken place (such as the ending of slavery and segregation).
– New Business or Technology Opportunities. Before your competition gets to your idea, it is best that you get the idea out first.
(Sykes, Malik, & West, 2013)
The Study Dude had a great?completely original?idea for an essay, and a straggler would hang around whenever I discussed the highly original paper idea with the professor. It turned out that the straggler submitted a paper of the same subject matter, although he didn’t score nearly as well. If I had known that our peering friend was tuning in for malevolent purposes, there would have been a sense of urgency on my part with protecting the ideas I put forth.
Formats (and Mixing Them Up Every 10 Minutes to Keep Attention)
The Study Dude used to take copious notes at presentations and lectures in order to maintain the attention span and capture any relevant details. However, it is common for the audience’s attention span to waver every 10 minutes or so. So, how do you keep them captivated for a full hour? One strategy is to mix up the presentation formats approximately every 10 minutes.
Here is a brief list of formats you can sprinkle into your presentation to ensure your audience is tuned in and attentive:
– Posters. One page large demonstrations of what you wish to present, usually with both text and visuals.
– Infographic. A smaller one page document that is more analytical, using graphics and callouts, reflecting little emotional content.
– Presentation Slides. PowerPoints
– Storyboard or Comics. A comic book like framing, usually appealing to humour, that goes from slide to slide of image/text relay sequentially.
– Animation or Video. This typically has oral rather than written content and uses animation/video for visual representation.
– Article or Report
– Whiteboard. Like a one-page visual story that you narrate in stages as you draw.
– Spoken Word. This is often accompanied by a one-page video.
(Sykes, Malik, & West, 2013)
There are other formats not listed here, such as role playing, answer/question periods, or audio podcasts. Mixing up your presentation every 10 minutes or so, again, can add a dynamic that maintains audience attention.
So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.
Sykes, Martin, Malik, Nicklas, & West, Mark D. (2013). Stories That Move Mountains: Storytelling and Visual Design for Persuasive Presentations. West Sussex, UK: Wiley.