Four Lessons in Presentation Skills from Mad Max: Fury Road

A key skill in the workplace is the ability to get your message or opinion across clearly, convincingly and memorably.

When it comes to making a point, few do it better than Immortan Joe, the villain of the George Miller Blockbuster, Mad Max: Fury Road.

The Militant Colonel Joe Moore rose to power after the Water Wars when his gang of highway raiders took over the mid-desert water source known as the Citadel. His victory earned him the name “Immortan Joe” and the rest is cinema history. Why then is Immortan Joe an exemplar of presentation and public speaking skills?

Reason 1:  Be Prepared

Making a big speech, whether it be regarding this month’s sales figures or the life and death of your desert warband, involves preparation. Joe spends an enormous amount of time preparing for his presentation, and here are a few pointers: 

1.   Location: Pick a place where your voice can be heard clearly, without interruptions, background noise or environmental effects. Joe found it wise to stand atop a 100 foot mesa, but ensuring that you’re not interrupted by background noises and making sure the air conditioner is set at a temperature that’s just right is equally important

2.   Voice Check: While not everyone needs an oxygen-rich mixture fed into their lungs through as special breathing mask, making sure your throat is clear and having a glass of water close by goes a long way.

3.   Dress for Success: Joe takes dressing for the occasion to an almost ritualistic height. Powdering his body, adorning his acrylate breastplate with medals and putting his best skull mask on. You, on the other hand can cut the same inspiring figure with a work-appropriate outfit and neatly pressed clothes.

Reason 2: Make an Impression

Joe may not have the heartthrob good looks of his nemesis Mad Max, he may not even have the awe-inspiring physique of his son Rictus. He does, however, make an impression with his very presence, and he does not do so simply because of the shocking stainless steel articulated skull mask or flowing white locks.

Joe projects his voice, annunciating his every word deliberately and maintains a ramrod posture, expanding his chest and moving with authority. When he speaks, he leans in toward his audience when addressing them.  Joe also makes all his presentations a visual, aural and tactile treat, using visual subjects such as large motor vehicles, the revving engines of his war machines and the soft patter of life-giving water from his towering citadel.

You can do the same with compelling presentation visuals. Don’t be satisfied with plain text when a video clip or a physical object can get your point across better, engaging more senses improves memory retention through a kinesthetic experience.

Reason 3: Practice with distractions

In the grim darkness of a post-apocalyptic hellscape, there is only automotive carnage. When getting your point across, it helps that nothing distracts you. For the uninitiated speaker, a person in the audience coughing or fidgeting could easily cause him or her to forget their point.

Joe delivers his message everyday amidst the roar of V8 engines and a hail of gunfire, but nothing fazes him because he has acclimatised himself to the possibility of loud and sudden distractions.

As a speaker, spend some time practicing with the television or radio in the background, allow yourself to zone in to your presentation in order to filter out unwanted distractions.

Reason 4: Give the audience something to take home

In’s public speaking tips of the best TED talks, speakers are advised to provide key takeaways for their audiences.

In Joe’s case, the takeaway usually happens to be a harpoon on the end of a chain, but in the case of a work presentation, always fall back on a few key points, reiterating them at the end of your presentation. This provides the audience with something to think about on the way out.

In many cases, mnemonic devices like acronyms or anecdotal stories can also help audiences takeaway your main points, so experiment with several strategies to see which one you are best at delivering.

Presentation Skills

To learn more about presentation skills and other skills for the workplace in small, manageable sessions, visit the British Council's Bitesize Learning and Development Programme.