(Use this in your presentation, service design or customer experience design)
A lot of my work draws heavily on the principles of narrative structure, or "dramaturgy". I apply these principles to my shows, my presentation training, and to my thinking about experience design and advertising.
But the principles espoused by Aristotle and Freytag are not easily explained or remembered. Instead, I prefer to talk about the "James Bond method".
If you think about it, a 007 film usually starts with a "prologue" scene which is unrelated to the main plot and which ends in an impressive stunt or explosion. Then we get some exposition (M delivers the background information, and James gets his mission) and the film gets rolling.
We go through three or four episodic encounters, each slightly more thrilling and glamourous than the last, before we see a final showdown where the Evil Genius' lair goes up in the biggest fireball of all.
Or, put another way, "Boom! wow, wow, wow, BOOM!!"
Interestingly, stand-up comics (and stadium rockers) use a similar system when planning the order of their material - the comics save the best joke for the end of the show, the second-best gag is the opener. In between, they try to steadily increase the "gag factor" or the pace of the material. The order of songs at a concert follows a similar pattern.
In a gripping presentation, you will see the same structure. The presenter will start with a surprising fact or gimmick (smoke machine, anyone?), present her arguments in ascending order, and finish up with a bigger bang - usually some king of surprise, gag, or resounding call to action. (This, by the way, is why a presenter should never ask for questions at the end...)
And the same excitement curve makes for killer service designs...
So, when you are designing your experience,
1. make a massive effort for a powerful, attention-grabbing start: Boom!
2. arrange the carefully selected highlights that follow in ascending order of power to build the interest: wow-Wow-WOW!
3. and go crazy to be sure your final point tops even your opening spectacle: BOOM!!
We go more into the dramatic arcs of service experiences in Touchpoint, (Vol 4.2 Autumn 2012). Hear more about 007, and learn about some other arcs and what they mean for service people...
PS An excellent refinement of "Boom! wow, wow, wow, BOOM!!" might be described as "Boom! wow, wow, wow, BOOM!! ...smile." You'll find it in Bond too - that last little love scene in the inflatable dingy where he gets the girl and there is usually some kind of buddy gag. It brings you down gently from the high drama and death of the final BOOM and lets you leave the cinema with a gentle smile. "Hey look, James is a loser in real life, just like me." It can be a useful tool, as it lets you wink at the audience, shows them that you don't take yourself too seriously, and thus keeps them on your side. After all, no-one likes a show-off.
PPS At a concert, that last element is usually going to be a ballad, or something nostalgic; something for the lighters and hankies.
Hmm. Perhaps a better description might be "Boom! wow, wow, wow, BOOM!! ...Ahhh!" Impress them with spectacle, but send them home with a warm fuzzy feeling. And there lies wisdom.
PPPS In this post, Customer Innovations wiz Frank Capek analyses Disneys' Pirates of the Caribbean ride using the Boom!WowowowBOOM! metaphor.