On Sunday Nov 17, 2013, author and teacher Syd Field died at the age of 77. Many call his 1979 book, “Screenplay, The Foundations of Screenwriting,” the bible for scriptwriters. Also, Field’s theories influenced the writing of stories for books and theater and affected fundamental aspects of the modern narrative.
Over decades in the film industry, Syd worked with almost every major Hollywood studio and worked on TV series and movies as a writer or consultant. In recent years he devoted his time to lecturing and teaching screenplay writing.
Syd Field revolutionized the theoretical bases for scripts with his “Structure of 3 Acts”: Act I “the beginning” or “the setup;” Act II the “development;” and Act III, “the ending” or “the resolution.”
Another key Syd Field contribution was the “plot point” (turning point). By means of “plot points,” the action changes direction and characters are thrust into totally new (and sometimes unusual) situations.
With presentations, the same things must happen.
Here at SOAP we regularly apply Syd Field’s theories (for example, the three-act structure) to the writing of corporate stories and presentations scripts.
You need to know that Act 1 is definitely not supposed to be devoted to talking about yourself and your company and going into the infamous “About Us” list of dreadfully boring stuff. Instead, Act 1 is when you need to capture the audience’s attention.
This requires creating an emotional connection with the audience. So this is the time to acclimate your story to the audience you expect, create a scenario and, more importantly, address the daily difficulties and problems faced by the audience as these relate to the theme of the presentation. Remember, empathy is everything!
Act 2 needs to be devoted to the development of the story, to support what has been proposed or discussed in Act 1. Now is the time to explain, while also holding the audience’s attention. And so it’s necessary to explore here the conflicts and consequences of the scenario set up in Act 1 and put forth your arguments.
Act 3 is when it’s time to convince the audience. And for this you need to move toward the climax of your story, solving every problem and resolving every issue raised and developed in Acts 1 and 2.
The application of these techniques, originated by the master, Syd Field, will help you to create presentations with well-structured scripts, engaging characters, great climaxes and, most importantly, with stories that will make sense to your audience, pique their interest and hold their attention from beginning to end.