March 2023 — Hollywood Storytelling Secrets You Aren’t Using in Your Data Presentations with Lea Pica

One of the benefits of having been running a meetup for 15 years and having awesome sponsors is that we are able to occasionally bring out-of-town speakers back by popular demand. It’s almost like we sometimes produce sequels, which, thematically, lined right up with this month’s event!

Lea Pica last presented at WAW in 2017, and we were beyond excited to bring her back to be on the in front of a big screen to once again provide attendees with tips and tales of storytelling done well..

This time, Lea wrapped her content in something of a thought experiment: what would happen if blockbuster movies and TV shows were delivered the way that most data presentations get delivered? For instance, imagine Game of Thrones as a corporate presentation:

“Game of Thrones” Reimagined as a Corporate Presentation

With that basic premise, Lea then shared five “Hollywood tips” for creating and delivering data presentations that are high impact:

  1. Begin with an irresistible hook—think about movie posters that tease an upcoming release…and then revisit the title slide for your presentation
  2. Learn to create anticipation—did you know that every TED Talk presentation is required to have a “throughline” identified—a single sentence that summarizes the entire talk? Put the effort in to determine the throughline of your data presentation, and you will be setting it up to be high impact and effective.
  3. Take your audience on a journey of transformation—the “narrative arc” (exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, resolution) is part of cinematic and prose Storytelling 101 for a reason. It’s effective! Approach your data presentation as an Insight Journey existing within a narrative arc!
  4. Present a clearly defined plan of action—S.M.A.R.T. recommendations are Lea’s twist on S.M.A.R.T. goals. In the context of recommendations, the acronym stands for: Specific, Measurable, Assigned, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
  5. Conclude with a definitive ending—don’t the the presentation metaphorically just fade to black and drift off.

Whether you attended or not, you can request a really handy 15-page guide to these tips at!

To demonstrate the impact of the approach, Lea shared at the end of the presentation that what she had delivered…had actually illustrated and applied all five tips. How meta is that?

The Narrative Arc Was Present in the Presentation We’d Just Witnessed

And, now, while it lacks a narrative arc, below are some pictures from the event!