What is it with the world’s perpetual fascination with superheroes? Perhaps it’s our childlike wishful thinking that a superhuman can save the world from frightening evils. Or maybe it’s refreshing to see a clear-cut, physical embodiment of those ambiguous entities: good and evil. Or maybe we just like hearing action-packed stories (or better yet, watching them unfold in IMAX) where the good guys always win. Regardless of the reasons for our predilection, much of this country is waiting with bated breath for the sixth installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, otherwise referred to as The Avengers.
Hitting theaters tomorrow (or midnight tonight if you’re a diehard fan), The Avengers chronicles our favorite superheroes as they fight to save the world (but you already knew that…). Here are some presentation lessons from a few of the Avengers. Your presentation has the potential to save the world, too, and you don’t even have to fight anybody to do it.
Iron Man: Confidence is Everything
Robert Downey Jr. is probably the best thing that ever happened to Iron Man, but that’s neither here nor there. Tony Stark, aka the Iron Man, is a billionaire playboy who owns Stark Industries, a corporation that creates and sells military weapons. While captured by some bad guys (pardon our vagueness) who want him to make a nuclear bomb, Stark creates a powerful suit of armor for himself, deftly escapes and is thusly the Iron Man.
Iron Man is notorious for his dogged confidence. Some may call it arrogance, but aside from this (ahem…) rhetorical difference, it’s clear that Tony Stark knows what he’s doing and how he’s going to do it. His confidence is infectious and pervasive. Channel some Tony Stark before your next presentation. Be unwaveringly confident in your demeanor. People are attracted to confident people, and your audience is much more likely to believe in what you say if you say it with the air of the Iron Man.
The Incredible Hulk: Stay Calm
The Hulk’s creator Stan Lee called the character “a combination of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Frankenstein.” Sounds like a pretty awesome mixture except, of course, if you were to provoke him. Strong emotions like anger, grief and terror cause Dr. Bruce Banner to transform into the terrifying, raging, giant Hulk. Watch out.
Maybe you’re giving a presentation that’s not going as well as you’d hoped, or your audience isn’t being as receptive as you’d like, or maybe you’re just having an off day and things aren’t working out as you’d wanted them to. Regardless of the problem, don’t turn into the Hulk. If something goes wrong, stay calm and composed. Avoid losing it and letting some crazy alter ego loose. Maintain your composure throughout the presentation regardless of how it’s going. Don’t pull a Hulk on your audience. Instead, finish the presentation with grace and afterwards reflect on what you can do to improve for next time.
Thor: Maximize Your Sidekick
Thor definitely has one of the most legitimate superpowers of the bunch, what with his ability to summon the elements of a storm. Even more awesome, if he’s forced into battle he enters into Warrior’s Madness, which increases his strength and stamina tenfold. He also has a magical hammer called a Mjolnir (we’re not making this up) that focuses his abilities, and does other stuff, too (again, vague).
While you can’t summon the elements of nature (it would be really cool if you could), you do have something like Thor’s magical hammer and that, my friend, is your slides. Like Thor uses his Mjolnir, use your slides to focus and strengthen your presentation. Think of your slides as a magical sidekick. You’re running the show, and your slides are there to magnify your abilities. Use them wisely.
Maybe we love superheroes because we’re suckers for action flicks where really beautiful people fight each other and things get blown up. Maybe we love them because they remind us of our blissful days of childhood when we thought they might be real. Or maybe we love them because they provide a couple hours of escape from the cold reality that we don’t have super heroes to apprehend bad guys and save the world no matter what. Regardless, we can all learn a little something from our beloved superheroes, even when it comes to presentations.