Nancy Duarte Resonate iBook

by Peter Watts

“Great presenters transform audiences”, and Resonate on the Apple iPad transforms business books. Resonate shows what’s possible when strong ideas combine with eye-catching delivery.

Think of it as a TARDIS

Resonate is my first encounter with a business book on the iPad. Many e-books simply taken a traditional book format, and make them electronic, but Nancy Duarte has gone several steps further and supplemented text with videos, sound clips, and pop-out diagrams. Resonate resembles Doctor Who’s TARDIS; it’s way bigger on the inside than it appears from the outside. The book is packed with ideas, but the multimedia approach compress those ideas into shiny nuggets. Those nuggets are memorable, and when you take the self-assessment quizzes at the end of each chapter, you’ll be surprised at how much information you absorbed in a short time.

The Audience is the Hero

The standout message of Resonate is that the audience is the hero. You are the mentor. You are Yoda guiding Luke Skywalker. Your role as mentor is to launch the audience onto a journey that leads to new insights and discoveries.

This mind-shift to presenter as mentor subtly shifts your presentation style. I tried the shift for myself during a three day training class and I found that it made me a kinder presenter, a more patient presenter, and at times, willing to be a far more challenging presenter.

Taking the audience on a story

The topic of story-telling has attracted so much online comment in the past year that it’s almost become an internet meme. But what does “storytelling” in a presentation context actually mean? To the average person storytelling involves starting with the phrase “Once upon a time” and then ending with “…and they all lived happily ever after”, but what should go on in the middle? The storytelling buzz leaves many presenters confused.

Resonate actually explains how the process works. Nancy Duarte uses examples from literature and cinema, and combines them with the work of Hollywood script analyst Chris Vogler. In my favorite section of Resonate, Nancy uses the full potential of the iBook to combine Chris Vogler’s video-tutorials on storytelling with expandable diagrams that lay-out the storytelling process; a process known as “The Hero’s Journey”.

This work on The Hero’s Journey not only applies to presenters, but also represents the stages a customer passes through on the way to a major purchase. Resonate is therefore a great book for salespeople.

The story form

The third key idea in Resonate is the use of the Story Form, a shape describing the accordion push and pull between the opposing tensions of what is, and of what could be.

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The tension between these two points creates contrast between an audience’s current situation, and the improved situation or “new bliss” that a presenter is describing.

Resonate shows how to use a structure that flexes back and forth between these two points, creating a motion that propels audiences forward.

Anecdotes

Anecdotes from the author are an important part of business books. Nancy Duarte anecdotes are humorous, usually self-effacing, and always relevant. From how to save yourself when presenting while heavily medicated through how to prepare the ultimate beer presentation when you really don’t like beer, each anecdote brings to life another aspect of presenting.

It’s fun

Finally, Resonate is tremendous fun to read. It has a huge personality, and while it centrally features Nancy Duarte, her whole team get’s pulled in as well. For my personal favorite, flick to page 21. Play with the slider that appears at the top of the page, and see what happens to Art Director Ryan as his image gets morphed to prove the point that your presentation isn’t all about you.

Resonate on the iPad is available from the Apple App Store

Review: “HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations” by Nancy Duarte

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Precision coaching for all presenters

By Peter Watts

Nancy Duarte’s Guide to Persuasive Presentations is a concise primer to the skills of presenting, from planning your pitch through to polished delivery.

Of particular value are the sections on how to put together high quality visuals. Some of the book’s best sound-bites are found when Duarte discusses how to create slides that work for an audience, and since reading that section I’ve found myself looking out far more in my own work for the “visual cliches” that Duarte warns about.

This focus on visual layout gives the book a cross-over to the world of blogging because if you are a presenter who also blogs, you’ll find ideas about the use of layouts, diagrams, and imagery. All valuable for an appealing web-page.

This brings us neatly to the topic of social media, and another strength of the HBR Guide. The book brings presenting right into the present day with topics about how you can blend social media resources such as Twitter into presentations, and how to make the maximum use of web-based backchannel communications.

Nancy Duarte is incredibly generous with how she shares the stage. Every chapter contains references to subject matter experts from multiple fields, and advises different books you might like to try out. Backchannel communications for example, is a relatively new topic for me, and right there on the same page that Duarte introduces the topic, she accompanies it with a recommended author from whom you can find out more.

Now for the confession: This wasn’t the Nancy Duarte book that I initially wanted to review. My target was her recent and much-discussed book “Resonate”, but sitting at London’s Heathrow Airport and trying to buy a copy for my Nook e-reader, I discovered that Duarte’s electronic coverage is surprisingly patchy.

The HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations is the only Duarte title Barnes & Noble have in e-book format, while Amazon do slightly better; they have the HBR guide and “Slideology” available for Kindle. No trace of Resonate at this stage however.

Still, having chosen to go with the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations as my first trip into the writing of Nancy Duarte, I’m pleased that I did. The guide gets full marks as an all round primer, with specific focus on presentation visuals. It also deserves a place on a virtual bookshelf due to it’s generosity as a resource guide to additional subject matter experts. Finally, it gets fullest marks for it’s brevity. Brilliantly concise.

Now on the look-out for “Resonate” as an e-book!

UPDATE: March 26th

Resonate on the iPad

It turns out that Resonate is available on the iPad. Thank you Nancy for dropping by the blog to share. First look is deeply impressive, and a full review will be coming shortly.

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