What is the most important part of your presentation? Most people will say that it's a description of a product, a solution, or a finding. After all, this is what you are presenting, right? Wrong. I would argue that the most important part of your presentation is a problem. If you don't bother to describe the problem you are likely to lose your audience in the first 5 minutes. By defining a problem you create a conflict between two forces—a problem and a solution that makes your story interesting to follow. Defining a problem is a major prerequisite for a successful presentation.
So, now you have set your goals and have collected the initial information. Where do you go next? You come up with a main conflict. (For the purposes of this chapter I will be using the terms “conflict” and “contrast” interchangeably.) A conflict is an opposition between forces that creates tension and drives action. It is probably the single most essential element in fiction storytelling. Robert McKee, in his seminal book quite appropriately titled Story, calls conflict “the controlling idea.” The action in the story stems from this core conflict. As humans, we need to see a struggle happening; a struggle without an easily predictable outcome (see Figure 3-1).