“Resonate” – the Webinar

October 5, 2010

There’s a lot happening in the presentation world at the moment. I’ve signed up to a series of free webinars – “Outstanding Presentation Workshops” organised by Ellen Finkelstein and have already logged into the first three.

The second of these featured was Nancy Duarte of Duarte Design, the author of “Slide:ology” whose new book Resonate has just been published in the States (it’s now available yet in the UK but will be released in the near future). In this new book Nancy covers how to prepare, create and deliver presentations  According to her website it

“reveals how to transform any presentation into an engaging journey. You will discover how to understand your audience, create persuasive content, and elicit a groundswell response.”

During her “Outstanding Presentations Workshop” webinar, Nancy mentioned that she was giving a free webinar when the book is launched. Places were limited and were soon taken, so a second one was set up that I was able to register for.

During her talk Nancy set out the key themes of her book. Her presentation was excellent with extremely good visuals. That’s what I’d expect from Duarte Design. To me, there were no major new revelations. However, she pulled together key messages about how to create and deliver a presentation that will engage an audience, and her own presentation achieved this.

Presentations can be an effective means of communication and, in practice, “all business is about presentation”. The problem is that the majority of presentations are bad.

Nancy’s key point is that the best way to engage the audience is to turn the presentation into a story rather than lecture at them.  Her contention was that “we are all natural storytellers” and the right story can “create a human connection”.

Most presentations are like a report bombarding the audience with too many facts. The alternative approach is to use storytelling techniques which are dramatic and emotional and which make a connection with the audience. To achieve the latter presenters should make an effort to find out as much as they can about their audience before preparing their talk and attempt to increase “the area of shared experience”.

Rather than overwhelming the audience with information, every presentation should have one big idea – a “unique point of view” – and the presentation should be designed to move the audience to this.

Lessons can be learned from the techniques used by professional story tellers, particularly from the theatre. Presentations should be structured like a drama.

(diagram from http://blog.duarte.com/2010/08/why-resonate/)

Developing this idea Nancy introduced a “presentation form” made up of a series of dramatic climaxes

pres form

Presenters should attempt to captivate their audience ensure that they identify a STAR moment that they will remember





So how did Nancy’s presentation hold up? Well she certainly applied the principles she’d set out to her webinar.

  • It wouldn’t be easy to research the audience for a webinar attended by a large number of people from all around the world, but she would have known that the majority of people participating would be interested in presentations and would probably be aware of her work. So she’d be able to prepare with an audience profile in mind.
  • She used a story telling approach, peppering her talk with lots of examples and anecdotes
  • She used the dramatic structure she advocated
  • I’m not sure that there was a single STAR moment. Although there were several key points, none of them stood out as more important or captivating than the others.


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