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12 angry men

In my keynote speeches I often ask people what’s so different about movies that we find them entertaining for 2+ hours while most presentations are boring as hell so that we start looking for an escape before reaching the 2 minute mark.

Among the top responses is music. And it’s true. Great music makes great films even greater. But it misses the point – if only because it would be an easy fix to include some music in a presentation.

The movie “12 Angry Men” creates tension from the first to the last second. We witness 12 men in a room. With no music! (And, of course, no special effects.) It’s pure story. It’s a great movie that grabs our attention (Well, mine at least).

If our story is great, we don’t need any music. Nor special effects.

Great stories are great because they resonate – not because we decorate them. They grab our attention and never release it because we can relate to the characters and their struggles. Music – and special effects in general – can make the experience even greater. But they are never the reason why it’s great in the first place.

And they never turn a lame story into a great story. They are an amplifier of greatness, not a rescue to lameness. If the story is lame, it will still be lame despite great music and great special effects.

Granted special effects can get you a short burst of excitement. They can wow your audience. But that’s about it. Most wow-effects fade quickly.

The thing is that – most likely – you don’t have the budget to produce special effects that do that trick for you. Effects that will provide that level of excitement to your audience.

(Not only) therefore, it’s much better to get the story right before we start working on the special effects.

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