Language and power are inextricably linked.
So begins a useful and beautiful book by Nancy Duarte called Resonate, which is filled with practical and insightful tips to motivate people and bring about change through presentations. But the book is about so much more than how to structure a presentation that won’t put people to sleep.
Resonate explains how to use language packaged as stories to enlighten, teach, convince, create change and move people to take action. It shows how people who can effectively use language for these purposes are those who succeed and excel in business, politics, friendships and life in general.
I am always amazed at how many people have trouble putting together an intelligent paragraph, letter or memo. Actually, I realize that I’m fortunate that so many people have difficulty communicating their thoughts and ideas. A good part of my business involves doing that communicating for others, whether in the form of news releases, organizational memos or speeches.
Nancy’s book, which she was kind enough to send to me a few months ago, offers some important keys to communicating that many of us tend to overlook. She takes a look at proven storytelling techniques that work for films, and she peppers the book with appropriate case histories of good presenters and presentations by people ranging from Dr. Martin Luther King and Ronald Reagan to Steve Jobs and Leonard Bernstein.
One of the key messages in the book is to understand your intended audience and make your presentation about them – not about you. Too many of us – and I’ve been guilty of it myself – spend too much time in a presentation talking about ourselves and our qualifications while completely neglecting to show our understanding of the audience’s needs and desires. I’ve seen it happen in presentations to large groups and in small meetings where someone is trying to win over a client or a prospective client or customer.
As you read this book, it becomes clear that to make an effective presentation takes a lot of planning and preparation. It’s not just about presenting a set of facts. It should be more about how those facts impact the audience and what can or should be done to make a desired change.
Nancy urges the reader to invest the time. “Be forewarned,” she says. “A high-quality in-person presentation takes time and planning, yet pressure on our time prevents us from preparing high-quality communications. It takes discipline… It’s a skill that will bring a great payoff to you personally and to your organization.”
This is a book that’s worth reading. And it won’t be a chore – it’s fun, interesting and visually engaging.
Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences
$29.95 from John Wiley & Sons