For dazzling presentations, smash the fourth wall


In the TV sitcom Modern Family, all the characters at different points speak directly to the camera. They talk to the audience in a break-the-fourth-wall style confessional.medium_movie_clapper

The fourth wall is the invisible barrier between the audience and characters in a movie.  You physically see the other three walls: one behind the stars, and one on each side.  In movies and TV shows breaking the fourth wall sometimes works and sometimes it simply annoys the audience as they lose the illusion of being immersed in the story.

There is the same metaphoric fourth wall between you and your audience when you present.  Your first goal as a presenter should be to break this wall, otherwise your audience will not connect with you and your message.

At an early-morning breakfast seminar Carolyn Creswell, the founder of Carmen’s Muesli, opened by saying: “When the alarm went off this morning, I thought, this better be good, and then I thought sh** – I better be good!” The audience laughed and immediately connected with her. She had successfully broken the fourth wall and she was one of us.

Standing behind a lectern or speaking to your slides rather than your audience strengthen the fourth wall and leave your audience feeling disconnected.  Instead, share the real you perhaps through a relevant story or a humorous opening that captures people.  Learning and using people’s names also work towards dissolving that fourth wall and immersing your audience in your presentation.

If you are directing a Hollywood blockbuster or a TV soap, by all means respect the fourth wall.  However, if you want your next presentation to be a blockbuster, spend the first couple of minutes smashing that wall to connect with and dazzle your audience.

 

Related Posts
4 Comments
  • Reply

    I love this analogy Yamini, really made me think about tactics to break down that ‘wall’.

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Thanks David, and you are so right we can think of lots of times in our lives when we should be building bridges and taking down walls.
      Regards
      Yamini

  • Reply

    Yamini – Stage fright is something that causes immediate disconnect, agreed totally – my technique is to breath

    slow down and look at clumps of the audience as well as tone your voice up and down – its not an after dinner

    speech.

    Scott

    Scott J Strachan
    CEO Director Podgor Corporation.

    • Yamini Naidu
      Reply

      Scott great point, at it is usually at the start of the presentation for speakers. I often suggest to my clients that they completely nail what they are saying for at least the first 5 minutes, so this is rehearsed and you can present it, while your nerves settle etc.
      Regards
      Yamini

Leave Your Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.