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The Hero’s Journey in Presentation July 12, 2011

Posted by reto wettach in gamification, presentation, service design.

Yesterday a student of the design department where I am teaching, Felix Barthel, presented his diploma thesis, which was a theoretical approach to presentation. He really did a nice job introducing various techniques and finally presenting a concept, which I haven’t heard of yet (but is heavily discussed in the internet, as I had to find out…):

Nancy Duarte  made an interesting observation related to presentations: it is not about the speaker, who needs to convey his audience that he is an hero, but about the audience, which the speaker has to take on a Hero’s Journey.

The Hero’s Journey is a well-known concept for story telling first described by Joseph John Campbell. It is used in many films and explains the phases the hero usually has to go through:

(image source, page 33)

In presentations – according to Duarte – it is all about being the mentor and taking your audience by the hand to take on the “call of adventure”.

Duarte also developed her own visualization of such a dramaturgy:

(image source, page 36-37)

In her TEDx talk Duarte explain how Martin Luther King and Steve Jobs use these technique to convince their audience.

I reall like her concept and think it might not only be interesting for presentations, but also for interfaces or services: the jump between what is and what could be must be designed in a convincing and interesting way – so that people “cross the threshold”! In game design the hero’s journey is being discussed, but in normal interface design I am not aware of any discussion – but at the end also an interface tries to convince people to take the call of adventure – and need to communicate it. Facebook is for example having a well-crafted experience if you are not a facebook user to show you what could be there…
Maybe I have to think a little more on that concept 🙂



1. Sam - July 20, 2011

See Kal’s 510+ stage hero’s journey work over at http://www.clickok.co.uk/index4.html ; it’ll correct some of your inaccuracies.

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