The Hero's journey

The Hero's journey

What is it?

The Hero's Journey is a narrative framework popularized by Joseph Campbell, a renowned mythologist and writer. He outlined this framework in his book "The Hero with a Thousand Faces," where he identified common elements and stages in myths and stories from various cultures throughout history.

When applied to presentation development, it becomes a powerful tool for structuring inspirational and engaging narratives. It typically consists of several key stages, including:

  1. The call to adventure: The hero is presented with a challenge or opportunity that sets them on a new path.
  2. Refusal of the call: Initially, the hero may resist or hesitate to accept the challenge.
  3. Meeting the mentor: The hero encounters a wise figure or mentor who provides guidance and knowledge.
  4. Crossing the threshold: The hero decides to embark on the adventure and enters a new, unfamiliar world.
  5. Tests, allies, and enemies: Along the journey, the hero faces various trials, makes friends, and encounters adversaries.
  6. Approaching the inmost cave: The hero gets closer to their ultimate goal or the central challenge of the story.
  7. The ordeal: The hero faces a major obstacle or crisis, often a life-or-death situation.
  8. Reward (seizing the sword): After overcoming the ordeal, the hero gains a reward or achieves their goal.
  9. The road back: The hero begins the journey back to their ordinary world, often facing further challenges.
  10. Resurrection: The hero faces a final test, often a direct confrontation with the main antagonist.
  11. Return with the elixir: The hero returns to their ordinary world, bringing back something valuable or transformative from their journey.

This structure provides a compelling and relatable arc, allowing an audience to connect with a message on a deeper level, making talks and keynotes memorable and inspiring.

      When to use it

      1. To create an emotional connection with your audience.
      2. For complex narratives featuring multiple characters and transformations.
      3. When inspiring change, personal growth, or a call to action in your presentation.


      Remember to

      1. Select and adapt the stages that align best with your content and time constraints.
      2. Consider the duration of the presentation.The Hero's Journey, with its multiple stages, may require more time for storytelling and development. For shorter presentations, you might opt for a more concise framework.



      Define the Hero

      The first step is to identify and develop your Hero. Your hero is the central character of your narrative, and in the context of various scenarios, it could be different entities. In the case of a startup presentation, your Hero is often your product or service. If you're creating a presentation for a sales-oriented scenario, your Hero might be the customer you are helping.


      Develop the Hero's character

      In this step, focus on developing and humanizing your central character. Start by giving your Hero a name and identity to make them relatable. Define their goals and desires, outlining what they aim to achieve or solve. Additionally, highlight their strengths and weaknesses, crafting a character that your audience can connect with on a personal level. This process of character development will set the stage for a compelling narrative in your presentation.


      Establish the ordinary world

      Set the stage by describing the world as it exists before your hero's journey. Paint a clear picture of the problems or challenges in this ordinary world, using real-life examples or anecdotes to engage your audience.


      Introduce the call to adventure

      Draft the moment when your Hero recognizes the need for change or the opportunity to make a difference. Explain how your Hero, whether it's your product or customer, is the answer to this call. Emphasize the benefits and potential impact.


      Develop the journey

      Identify the Hero's journey stages that best fit your narrative and objectives. Handpick these stages, adapting and personalizing them to seamlessly integrate with your unique story. Arrange these chosen stages thoughtfully in a logical sequence to ensure a smooth and engaging flow within your presentation.


      Plan the road back

      Think of this as the moment when your hero is getting ready to return to their normal world after all the adventures and transformations. They're armed with new knowledge and skills and are gearing up to make a difference.


      Unfold the ultimate transformation

      The resurrection stage is the moment when the hero demonstrates how much they have grown and changed throughout the journey. They should apply the lessons they've learned, overcome their flaws or limitations, and confront the challenge head-on. This stage is all about the hero's personal transformation and their readiness to face the ultimate ordeal.


      Return with the elixir

      As your presentation wraps up, highlight how your transformed hero is now eager to share their story and success with the world. Emphasize the long-lasting positive effects and the value they bring to customers or the market, leaving your audience inspired and well-informed.


      Review and edit

      Ensure that each step aligns with your presentation's objectives and communicates the central message effectively. Edit the language for clarity, coherence, and impactful storytelling to engage your audience while maintaining a consistent tone, style, and messaging to create a cohesive and unified narrative.