Sometimes the stars align just right.

RTi’s Chief Meaning Officer, David Intrator, was reaching the highpoint in his presentation on story structure at the Quirk’s Event held earlier this month in Brooklyn. He was just about to play a video of a famous Super Bowl commercial that perfectly illustrates Hollywood 3-act story structure.

In this classic storytelling architecture, a situation is established, a problem is then introduced that disrupts the status quo, and the remainder of the story follows the protagonist as he or she tries to get out of the jam.

Well as luck would have it, when Intrator clicked “play,” there was no audio accompanying the video.  As he recalls: “This was the peak moment in the presentation and, honestly, I was a little freaked out when it looked like a technical glitch was going to blow my whole show.”

Of course, Intrator kept his cool, not only encouraging the audio engineer to come to the stage to assess the situation, but also asking the audience to shower the sound man with applause, both before and after he corrected the problem.

“That broke the tension and put everyone in a great mood,” Intrator continued. “It was like we were all together, having a party, including the audio engineer who undoubtedly was feeling as much stress as me.  And the video was more powerful than it probably would have been without the mishap.”

Afterwards, a number of attendees asked whether all of this had been planned. After all, it was a living dramatization of the 3-Act storytelling structure (setup – problem – resolution) that Intrator was discussing.

Which just goes to show that powerful storytelling can arise from the unlikeliest of scenarios.

To listen to a five minute synopsis of the talk, click here, or on the image at the top of this post.  Or, if you prefer to read, click here for an overview of the presentation, which we posted on the day of the talk at Quirk’s.

To learn more about story structure, check out our online storytelling course From Data To Meaning | Storytelling For Market Research