Like a great presentation, Nancy Duarte's new book, resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences is engaging, relevant and passionate. It is physically gorgeous with an appealing layout, evocative photographs and, no surprise, lots of visuals...diagrams, sketches, charts, graphs...that explain and clarify the content. But don't be misled into thinking that this is just another outlet for one of those creative types to show off her design skills. Even without the visuals, Duarte's content can transform the world of business presentations.
The book is fundamentally about how to use story to create presentations that produce an emotional impact on the audience. As Nancy says in the introduction, "This book is simultaneously an explanation, a how-to guide, and a business justification for story-based messaging." Using examples and lessons from the worlds of mythology, literature and cinema, she demonstrates how to incorporate dramatic elements into presentations which invite the audience to become more involved, more interested and more invested.
Learning how to do this effectively and consistently would be reason enough to buy this book. But Duarte offers many more applicable lessons such as how to plan the audience's journey, how to create meaningful content, how contrast creates interest, how to recall stories, how to turn information into stories and how to move from data to meaning. These topics, rich with case studies of people and companies you'll recognize, cover easily usable techniques that will improve any presenter, regardless of experience or job level.
One of the things I love most about this book is its focus on the audience. The clear truth that the audience is the raison d'etre for any presentation is proclaimed loudly and often. Contrary to what we experience in so many presentations, Duarte says,
"The audience does not need to tune themselves to you -- you need to tune your message to them. Skilled presenting requires you to understand their hearts and minds and create a message to resonate with what's already there. Your audience will be significantly moved if you send a message that is tuned to their needs and desires."
resonate is being called groundbreaking and magnificent. I don't think that's hyperbole. Presentations shape every aspect of our business lives and they have enormous power, much of which we don't leverage. If you have any interest in becoming a more compelling presenter and transforming your audiences...and who wouldn't consider that a worthy goal...rush out and buy resonate. It belongs on your bookshelf, to be consulted frequently.
Then you'll be much better equipped to accept Nancy's presentation challenge: be bold, stand out and go change your world.