“Presentations are Boring, PEOPLE are Interesting”, says Nancy Duarte in her book, RESONATE: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Her book is a playful, smart and thoughtful guide for reframing your next presentation.
My favorite part of her book, which made me laugh out loud, was how she considered the stereotypical, egocentric speaker. I looked for this page on Google images and can’t find it so let me try to describe it. Picture an L.A. screenwriter type with sunglasses and a glass of scotch in his hand. He’s lean, sports a manicured Van Dyke mustache and wears a hip, but not too loud shirt. His open, casual body language exudes slick and cool. Duarte designed floating thoughts around this image, that read like the one-way conversations he has at cocktail parties: “I’m Best of Breed,” “You need my help,” ”My market Cap is HUGE,” “I’m flexible and scalable,” “ I’m in a win-win situation,” “Customers and analysts LOVE me,” “I’m available 24/7,” “My partners are cool,” “My product is the best”.
It’s a devilishly delightful spread that nails the truth about how most of us approach our presentations. Duarte calls this the “selfish approach” and cautions the reader: You Are Not the Hero.
Now, flip to the next page and you see the iconic image of Yoda on the back of Luke Skywalker. Duarte labels this page The Audience Is the Hero. Her message is that though all eyes are on you during a presentation, your power comes in recognizing your real role, which is to make the audience the hero of this story. You want them to do or understand something? Be like Yoda, she says, and whisper in their ears the path to action, understanding and opportunity that helps them succeed.
The power of Duarte’s analysis is in the images she gives us to illustrate our roles as speakers. You are Yoda, not Mr. Cool. “Audience insights and resonance can only occur when a presenter takes a stance of humility.”
My interest in Duarte led me to her TEDX talk that consolidates the messages of this book in 18 minutes. It’s worthwhile and as always, I appreciate when speakers share part of their own story as a way to strengthen the connection with the audience and the power of the message. Enjoy and learn. You Have the Power to Change the World.