Discussion – 


How to use the 3-Act structure in your next presentation

“Stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, and if they’re any good, the end is a reflection and a resolution of the beginning.” – Drew Goddard

The three-act structure is a commonly used framework in storytelling, especially in screenwriting and theater, to organize and structure a narrative into three distinct parts or acts. It helps create a sense of progression and engagement in a story by dividing it into key components. These acts typically follow a specific pattern:

  1. Act 1: Setup
    • Introduction: This is where the audience is introduced to the main characters, setting, and the central conflict or problem. It’s also known as the exposition.
    • Inciting Incident: An event or decision occurs that disrupts the normal life of the protagonist and sets the story in motion. This incident creates a sense of curiosity and engagement for the audience.
    • Establishment of Goals: The protagonist identifies their goals or desires, often related to resolving the conflict or overcoming obstacles.
    • End of Act 1 Turning Point: Act 1 concludes with a turning point, often a point of no return, which propels the story forward. The protagonist commits to pursuing their goals, and the real conflict begins.
  2. Act 2: Confrontation
    • Obstacles and Complications: The protagonist faces a series of obstacles, challenges, and conflicts that make it difficult for them to achieve their goals. This act is usually the longest and is full of rising action.
    • Character Development: Characters undergo growth and change as they respond to the challenges and learn from their experiences.
    • Midpoint Climax: Around the middle of Act 2, there is a major turning point or revelation that changes the course of the story. It can be a success or failure, but it intensifies the conflict.
    • Dark Moment: Towards the end of Act 2, the protagonist often faces their lowest point. They may lose hope or suffer a significant setback.
  3. Act 3: Resolution
    • Final Conflict: The story builds to its climax, where the central conflict reaches its peak. The protagonist confronts their biggest challenge.
    • Resolution: The conflict is resolved, either successfully or unsuccessfully. Loose ends are tied up, and the story’s main questions are answered.
    • Conclusion: The story concludes by showing the aftermath of the resolution. Characters’ fates are revealed, and the audience gains a sense of closure.
    • Wrap-up: Any remaining questions or subplots are addressed, and the story comes to a satisfying conclusion.

Real Example: Let’s take the movie “Star Wars: A New Hope” as an example of the three-act structure:

Act 1: Setup

  • Introduction: We meet Luke Skywalker, a young farm boy on Tatooine, and learn about his mundane life.
  • Inciting Incident: Luke discovers a message hidden in a droid, R2-D2, which leads him to the concept of the Rebel Alliance and the conflict with the Empire.
  • Establishment of Goals: Luke decides to join the Rebel Alliance and becomes a Jedi.
  • End of Act 1 Turning Point: Luke, along with Obi-Wan Kenobi and Han Solo, commits to rescuing Princess Leia and delivering the Death Star plans.

Act 2: Confrontation

  • Obstacles and Complications: They encounter various challenges, including the Death Star, bounty hunters, and personal conflicts.
  • Character Development: Luke matures and becomes more skilled in the Force.
  • Midpoint Climax: The group rescues Princess Leia, but Obi-Wan is killed by Darth Vader.
  • Dark Moment: The Death Star captures the Millennium Falcon, and it seems all is lost.

Act 3: Resolution

  • Final Conflict: Luke and his allies launch an attack on the Death Star.
  • Resolution: Luke uses the Force to destroy the Death Star.
  • Conclusion: The Rebels celebrate their victory, and Luke is honored. The story ends with a sense of hope for the future.

This example illustrates how the three-act structure provides a framework for organizing the narrative arc of a story, creating a satisfying and engaging experience for the audience.

You can apply the three-act structure to presentations to engage and effectively communicate your message.

In Act 1, your setup, start by introducing your audience to the topic, providing context, and grabbing their attention with a compelling hook or question.

Act 2, the confrontation, should focus on the main content of your presentation. Break it down into key points or sections, addressing obstacles, challenges, or questions related to your topic. Use visuals, stories, and data to illustrate your points and maintain audience interest.

The transition to Act 3, the resolution, should signal the beginning of your conclusion. Summarize your key takeaways, restate your main message, and end with a clear call to action or a thought-provoking closing statement.

By structuring your presentation this way, you guide your audience through a cohesive narrative that helps them understand, remember, and act upon your message effectively.