Yesterday, myself and a couple of my colleagues attended a training course on how to create effective presentations led by David Josephs. The aim of it was clear. At the end of the training we were given the task of putting together a three minute presentation on a desired topic. This was going to be a competition (so I put my warrior hat on).
We can present on anything? My chance to make everyone fall in love with… a fairy-tale (my friends will know this is very typical of me). There I was, a very competitive 5’5’’, well rounded, glasses on, PR professional presenting on… A Never Ending Story (Michael Ende). I was poetic and confident and had the perfect story to tell. I was also ranting, did not respect time and LOST.
Now, with your approval, I will put my fantastic presentation into words. I will hopefully do better here.
Is your story never ending? If I were to ask Michael Ende this, he would say, ‘’Every real story is never ending’’. So, how do you make your story never ending? How did Michael make made his fairy tale real?
Michael Ende, of German origins, is the author of The Never Ending Story (one of my favourite books – I assure you that the others are a bit more serious). He published his story in the ‘70s and it did not take long for it to become a bestseller. Later on it was adapted into several films. In my opinion what Michel managed to get right in his composition were three things: imagination, language and structure.
IMAGINATION – CREATIVITY
In his book, Michael creates a high number of worlds, characters, costumes, super powers, and fantastic stories to encapsulate it all. One of his characters is Grograman, or simply known as The Many Colored Death. He is the guardian and lord over Goab, the Desert of Colors, which exists in a symbiosis with Perilin, the Night Forest. He appears in the form of a huge lion, which changes colours much like a chameleon based on the colour of sand he is treading on. He is said to "bring the desert with him", turning all life around him into sand, thus his nickname. Grograman turns into an obsidian statue at night in order to allow the growth of Perilin.
What about you? How do you use your imagination? Are you using it at all? Scientist are slowly proving that imagination is not a gift from God, but it is something to be fostered. You can ‘create’ imagination if you think you have none – which I doubt! Just go back to when you were a child, I bet you used to day dream and invent your own stories. Well, start there! And bring imagination and creativity into your day-to-day world.
LANGUAGE – COMMUNICATION
Being a PR professional, I just love a well packaged story – and I refer to the language used, of course. Sometimes the language is obscure, sometimes it is clear but at all times, it manages to create a perfect image of the world it explores:
“And there in the snow lay the pictures, like jewels bedded in white silk. They were paper-thin sheets of coloured transparent isin glass of every size and shape, some round, some square, some damaged, some intact, some as large as church windows, others as small as snuffbox miniatures.’’
How do we communicate in our day-to day life? Do we manage to use language effectively? Most conflicts arise from the fact that people fail to effectively communicate their thoughts and desires. I think the most basic steps one can take in order to communicate more effectively are:
- Have the courage to say what you think – but be diplomatic and considerate.
- Practice - I started my communications journey by talking to myself in the mirror, it works wonders!
- Engage with your audience - eye contact, positive body language and tone of voice are all very important.
STRUCTURE – DISCIPLINE
The book is not printed in black ink, but rather in red and green ink. The ink colours are there to help the reader figure out what “world” they’re in. Red ink if it’s in the “real world” of Bastian, and green ink if it’s the story that Bastian is reading in the book that he stole. After the prologue, there are 26 chapters. Each of the chapters' first word is in alphabetical order according to the chapter number (first chapter begins with the word “all”, the second chapter begins with the word “because”, and so on). The page before each new chapter has a beautiful drawing of images that correspond with that chapter and a big fancy letter…the first letter in the chapter. So you have the alphabet as you go along too.
The painful topic of discipline: I have always disliked this word – growing up with a father in the military was not always easy. You can imagine that discipline in my family was…always there! However, as I grew older, I discovered that there had to be a quantum of discipline in everyone's life. Do you keep your work and social life separate? Do you exercise? Have you had your vitamins today? Do you find stuff or just lose them at the most inopportune moments? (I always lose receipts!). It makes you think right?
Hopefully by now I have managed to achieve three things:
- Redeem myself
- Make you read The Never Ending Story
- Make you reflect on imagination, communication and discipline
Don’t be shy, leave a comment if I managed to do at least one of the above