Many successful writers of novels, blockbuster films and made-for-TV holiday movies follow a time-tested formula. It's called the three-act structure. 

The three-act formula has been entrenched in Hollywood for decades. Screenwriters tell me it's nearly impossible to get a movie sold if it doesn't follow the structure. Movie franchises like Star Wars follow the template perfectly.

If you incorporate this narrative model into your next business presentation, it will give you a story-based outline to wow your audience. It works in Hollywood. It will work for you. 

Here is the time-tested formula. 

Act I:  The Set-up

This act comprises about the first 25 pages of a typical movie script and usually takes up the first 30 minutes of a film. The time and location is established (a long time ago in  galaxy far, far away), the main characters are introduced, and we learn more about their lives.  

Act II: The Confrontation

This part is the next hour of a standard two-hour movie. The protagonist or hero comes across obstacles, conflicts and villains. Without conflict, you have no action and no story. 

Act III: The Resolution

 In the final 30 minutes, the hero knows what they need to do to vanguish the villain. They recognize their weaknesses and know the path to reach their goal. Everything is solved and, in most movies, there's a happily ever after.

One key to act three is that the hero must be transformed by the experience. In Frozen 2, Elsa's power balled "Show Yourself" is a transformation song where she has grown into her powers and is "no longer trembling." 

Now let's turn to a business presentation. In its simplest form, a presentation intended to move people to action (buy a product, support an idea, invest in a startup), should follow the three-act outline. Here's an example of how you can incorporate the three-act structure into your very next sales presentation.

Act I: The Set-up

Begin your presentation by describing the world in which your customer lives in. This demonstrates that you've done your research and you understand the customer's company and industry.

Act II: The Conflict

This is where you can make a powerful impact. Explain the obstacles or challenges that your customer needs to overcome.

This is the section where Steve Jobs shined. He could convince people that they had a problem they didn't even know they had. That's genius. For example, in 2007, few people thought they'd need a new smartphone until Jobs pointed out the problems with the current models. In 2010, few people thought they'd need another device in between a smartphone and a laptop computer until Jobs pointed out the problems an iPad would solve.

Act III: The Resolution

In the third and final act, you show how your idea, product or service will solve the conflict you described in act two. Most important, you must show how your customer's life will be transformed for the better.

In her new book, DataStory, presentation design expert, Nancy Duarte, recommends using the three-act structure to delivering data-heavy information. In Duarte's structure, Act One introduces the situation in which your organization (or your customer) finds itself in. Act Two introduces the problem (conflict) that the data reveals. Act Three concludes with the resolution--your best idea on how to solve the problem.

Writers, creatives, and presentation designers rely on the three-act formula because it's a time-tested formula that's emotionally engaging. We find the structure attractive because we are wired for story.

I believe in making storytelling easy for business professionals. In this case, formulas are not inherently bad. They stand the test of time because they work.