Hot off the press, Nancy Duarte’s book, Resonate, present visual stories that transform audiences is quite simply, remarkable!
You don’t read this book, you experience it. Each of her 9 Rules are so clearly defined and described that they feel tangible, like something you can hold in your hands, turn around and examine from different angles, and view with awe. Some of the ideas you will use immediately to reinvigorate your presentations and others will germinate. . . but rest assured that Duarte offers “how to” strategies that are guaranteed to make your presentation standout and inspire change.
What makes this book so remarkable?
Duarte practices what she preaches!
Early in the book, Duarte talks about a BIG IDEA: one key message you want to communicate. She goes on to describe how to craft your message to provide insight, structure and impact – which is exactly how she’s written the book. Each chapter is a “presentation” in and of itself, introducing and elaborating on a BIG IDEA (referred to as a “RULE”) that summarizes the discussion and punctuates the end of the chapter.
What did I love?
Duarte makes the “traditional” contemporary.
It wasn’t so much that the content is “new” as it is “today”. Focusing on the audience, crafting a memorable message, or providing STAR moments are familiar concepts. What won me over is how Duarte put everything in the context of 2010 with hip language, current research findings, and media-rich analogies. Duarte makes everything vital and new again.
What lessons resonated with me?
A lot. Here are a few segments off the top of my head.
- Make it about the audience. Duarte reminds us of what our mother’s told us growing up: that no one likes a know-it-all. It is impossible for an arrogant and self-centered person to connect with their audience. She points out that, when presenting, your job is to share knowledge, insight and advice in a way others can learn from and act on. She goes on to suggest that instead of showing up with an attitude that is “all about me”, your stance should be a humble “it’s all about them.”Make the audience the center of your attention to help ensure your success.
- Content is King. I was elated to see Duarte dedicate almost 50% of the book to creating and fleshing out a framework to develop the content and structure of a memorable presentation. Describing it as a journey, she made each step quite doable. However, while she does an exceptional job, unless it is a process you use on a regular basis, I believe that even an experienced speaker will find it best to bite off a morsel at a time. There’s a lot to take in.
- Structure Reveals Insights. How many times have you experienced a speaker treating each slide as a discrete piece of information with no relationship to what was just said or where the presentation is going? I call that “slides on parade” and find it to be the corporate norm. When that happens, I feel like I’m at a basketball game and there is a jump ball suspended in air because no one knows what to do with the information.The structure, of course, is how you organize the presentation. It shows the relationship between the parts and the whole. Duarte’s analogy to the coupling of a train or the string of a pearl necklace helps visualize how the various pieces of a presentation need to connect in an orderly fashion.
What could be better?
Surprisingly enough, “the presentation”!
It is a beautiful book, the size, images and layout complement the message. But initially I was a bit intimidated by the light gray, 8 point Gotham font. At first glance it made the text feel “dense” and uninviting. However, I quickly learned that Duarte’s writing style is open with a rhythm and movement that kept me engaged.
References, case studies and iconic speakers, descriptive illustrations and beautiful images all drive home the truly substantive content. I don’t suggest reading this book in one-sitting. This is a book you read, ponder, apply – and pick up again and again and again.