Nancy Duarte is an expert in presentation design and a principal of Duarte Design, where she has served as CEO for more than two decades. Nancy speaks to audiences around the world about how to increase the impact of their public presentations. She wrote the book Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, as well as Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Her most recent publication is the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.
I saw Nancy speak at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon, and invited her to Marketing Smarts to share her secrets for creating marketing presentations that persuade people to take action.
Here are just a few highlights from my talk with Nancy.
To find your calling, you've got to fall in love (4:08) "We stumbled into presentations. It was like the very next thing people wanted were slides and they they wanted their data plotted on a slide, so we stumbled into presentations. Then...we were saying 'oh, we don't just do presentations, we do all these other things, too,' and then I read Jim Collins's Good to Great, and it said if you do one thing and you think you can be the best in the world at it, just do that one thing, so we cut everything [else] out. Half my business, I cut it away, and I said...we're going to go after presentations and be best at it, which required me to come out from behind the curtain...and become an accomplished presenter myself.... I actually had to fall in love with presentations. I would never have known to pursue this as a career."
People are hardwired to stay the same, so communicators have to overcome a lot of resistance (9:29): "To move people toward an end...you have to do things. There's tons of resistance. Humans want stasis, we want to sit still. We want to go into a state of rest. Everything in nature wants to go into a state of rest. As a communicator...you're trying to keep [people] in an active state all the time. I want my employees to work harder. I want my product to be better. We need to move faster. All those things, and we're trying to get our employees to do it all the time, and becoming a stronger communicator gets them there, but you have to craft messages that are going to accomplish what you need them need them to."
To inspire action, you have to create a groundswell before you ever take the stage (and then be amazing once you do step up to the podium) (10:20): "If you look at someone like [Dr. Martin Luther King], he gave a brilliant speech—probably the best speech ever—but...there was a whole lot that happened, before he got up onto that stage, that created a movement. His speech became a flashpoint for a groundswell that was already happening. It's our job as communicators to not only be there at that one moment—that one flashpoint above the surface—but to be doing a really awesome job to create the momentum before the flashpoint. We really are creating movements.... They might not be on the epic scale that Dr. King's was, but a lot of people don't understand what went behind the Civil Rights Movement. They practiced, they rehearsed, they demonstrated, they acted, they paraded, they passed out pamphlets.... They practiced peaceful resistance. There was so much more than went on than just Dr. King's speech, and as communicators that's what we all have to realize. There's this moment where you have the stage, but if you don't have that groundswell, and you haven't done all these other communication activities to create desire, to create meaning, to create need, all those things, sometimes it'll make the speech not as effective, or magical, or historical."
Nancy and I talked about much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!
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Music credit: Noam Weinstein.
Nancy Duarte, an expert in presentation design, CEO at Duarte Design, TED speaker, and the author of Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations, Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences and her most recent book, HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations.