"…presentations will play a role in shaping your future. The future isn’t just a place you’ll go; it’s a place you will invent. Your ability to shape your future depends on how well you communicate where you want to be when you get there."

- Resonate, page xix

Ever had to give a presentation that you were really excited about only to have it be met by radio silence from your audience? All of us have been there at some point in our lives. We feel like we have something great to share with our audience, but they don’t respond in the way we anticipated. It’s a disappointment that Nancy Duarte wants to help presenters overcome. Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences is a book dedicated to helping people become better presenters by learning how to be a great storyteller.

When we present, we have an idea that we want to tell others about. At the core of that idea, we hope to inspire change. Be it a change in thinking, a change in perspective or something else. Duarte points out that even though we have lots of great technology at our fingertips, “genuine connections create change”. To create those genuine connections, we must emotionally connect with our audience in order for that idea to resonate with them. Resonate provides readers with a framework for developing their idea for a presentation that creates change.

The Big Idea

The Big Idea: The biggest takeaway from the book

How The Idea is Packaged is Everything

"Changing your stance from that of the hero to one of the wise storytelling will connect the audience to your idea, and an audience connected to your idea will change."
- Resonate, page 23

There’s a reason why we love reading fiction or watching our favorite TV show each week. We respond to the story. But who would have thought that story is what makes Steve Jobs’ 2007 iPhone launch speech and Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech so memorable. Great speeches and presentations don’t just dole out a ton of information and leave the audience out to dry. They actually follow a story structure. When an idea is packaged into this structure, it will draw the audience in.

In this regard, an audience must be given more than just facts. There must also be an emotional appeal and stakes for the “big idea” that you communicate. Showing the audience what both of these things are will garner their buy-in.  Duarte suggests that showing the audience what could be is the most powerful story to capture their attention.

Insight #1

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

The Element of Surprise

"An audience will deem a presentation a success if they feel like they have connected with you."
- Resonate, page 132

One of the reasons why so many presentations bore audience members is there is a sense that nothing is happening. Everything is stagnant in the presentation. This is how attention drops off and yawns start happening. What we need to do instead is weave in the element of surprise into our presentation. This could take the form of using alternate media, multiple presenters or interaction. Duarte recommends that several of these can and should occur within an hour.

Insight #2

An actionable way to implement the Big Idea into your life

Define Your Audience’s Journey

"The journey should be mapped out, and all related messages should propel the audience closer to the destination."
- Resonate, page 76

The goal of most presentations is to move the audience from point A (their current perspective) to point B (a new perspective). In order to get them to that point, we must create a compelling presentation in order to shift their perspective. Thus, one of the most valuable things we can do in preparing for a presentation is to map out this journey. Duarte suggests that the presenter identifies both the inward and outward transformation that the audience will go through. Once these things are identified, it becomes easier to determine what you need to tell them in terms of emotionally and logically appealing to them in order to inspire their change.

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Vanessa Chase

ABOUT Vanessa Chase

I am a fundraising strategist and copywriter, and run the non-profit resource website, Philanthropy For All. Through my work, my goal is to help passionate non-profit folks better articulate their non-profit’s impact and work is a way that translates to engaged philanthropic communities...
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