Every time you present to a group — whether that be your colleagues, management team, the CEO, company investors, your customers, or conference attendees — you have an opportunity to connect.
However, transmission is only the tip of the iceberg. What all great presenters and communicators have in common is their ability to get you started on a journey — one that will prompt you to do something differently.
What causes this change? One of my favorite visual storytellers, Nancy Duarte, has written a remarkable guide on how to present visual stories that transform. Resonate (Amazon affiliate link) is a must read — buy a copy for every member of your team and see the impact on results directly.
The book will teach you how to give a presentation and change the world.
Changing the world is hard, and you can do that only when the ideas you present connect with people. Stories convey meaning and resonate with people. They are the hero, not you. Therefore every time you present, you're given an opportunity to plan a journey, tune into the audience's resonant frequency, and move to action.
Call to adventure
Duarte analyzed some of the most memorable talks — the book is filled with examples from Ben Zander's TED Talk to Beth Comstock's GE presentations — and helps you see how a great presentation is like a bridge between a report, and a story.
- a clear beginning, middle (this is where the development and conflict builds) and end
- an identifiable structure
- an incident (turning point in your presentation)
and relating to how myths and movies are structured, the book shows you how to set up, plan the journey, and convey your point of view so that resistance is won over. From what is, to what could be, Duarte shows you how to help resolve your audience's internal conversation, so that they'll change on the outside.
Most great presentations follow a form, which Duarte named a sparkline
She also helps you classify members of the audience by who they are, what they do for you, and how they do it:
- doers investigate activities — once they know what has to be done, they'll do the physical tasks. They recruit and motivate other doers to complete important activities. Ask them to assemble, decide, gather, respond, or try.
- suppliers get resources — financial, human, or material. Thy have the means to get you what you need to move forward. Ask them to acquire, fund, provide resources or support.
- influencers change perceptions — and sway individuals and groups, large and small, mobilizing them to adopt and evangelize your idea (I will address this one more in depth in a future post). Ask them to activate, adopt, empower, or promote.
- innovators generate ideas — they look for new ways to modify and spread your idea. They create strategies, perspectives, and products. Ask them to create, discover, invent, or pioneer.
These are your heroes, so get to know them, and speak to them directly. One of the best demonstrations of audience segmentation in the book is that of President Reagan's ability to credibly move in and out of different roles for different audience segments during the Space Shuttle Challenger Address.
Did you ever say something they'll always remember in your presentations? If so, you craeated a S.T.A.R. moment, and you know what it feels like. I remember after a presentation I did at the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA) in partership with MCAD in Minneapolis, people kept talking until the wee hours.
There are five kinds of these moments:
- memorable dramatization — Ben Zander is a great example in my book
- repeatable sound bites — look to Steve Jobs for a master at this
- evocative visuals — Richard Feynman visualized the cause of the Challenger disaster
- emotive storytelling — Pastor John Ortberg conveys people want to be loved despite their ragged condition
- shocking statistics — Bill Gates contrasted the funds spent on curing baldness with those spent curing malaria in his TED Talk
There is much more to the book than what I provided here. Read it and literally transform your presentations into powerful persuasion tools. Buy a copy of Resonate (Amazon affiliate link) for every member of your team. This is a gift that will keep on giving.
View more charts from the book here.
[Disclosure: I received a copy of Resonate from Nancy Duarte, who I consider a mentor on visual storytelling and whose work I have admired for years. This review and recommendation is based upon the quality of the material — and not on how I obtained it.]