RESONATE – How to make effective visual presentation of a story

The past week I spent most of my free time reading this “multimedia” book.  Actually it is the first time I read a digital book that it is not a PDF, but a real HTML5 interactive book. It provides a really nice digital experience to the reader, it includes images, video, links, etc.. Here the link: from Nancy Duarte. The Books describe how to do good presentations and I’ve found it really really useful. I’ve spent a lot of time on preparing presentations in my career, and only now I recon that I’ve been waste a lost of time in not essential things. Frankly, I’m a design passionate so I spent a lot of effort on the design and developing graphical synthesis of concepts. This is good. But only now I recon I was spending too little time on organizing a story to better state the concept and catch the audience. A good visuals, according to me, make a presentation cleared but not necessary less boring. We are using power point presentation for everything nowdays, because it is a really simple and flexible tool to write anything and organize it better with some illustrations, visuals and schemes. But everything you do with power point definitely it is not a “presentation”; most of my ppts are not presentation. I’ve always been conscious that there are many better alternatives ways to produce reports, brochures and in general any material that will be not “presented”.
I took a lot of notes while reading the book, and I’ll summarize them here few point I fixed in my mind.

The hero’s journey.

The first chapters introduces a concept I’ve seen a lot of time on many film, books and stories, but I’ve never focused it so clearly.  The heor’s journey reveal the basic structure of any good story, from myth up to modern films. It’s was amazing to me that I could watch so many movies without coming to an understanding of their structure until it was expressly revealed.Nancy uses a really interesting tool to describes the structure of the story, the sparkline.

resonate_graphic_61Make the gap clear
The most important thing to remember here is to make the gap clear from “what is”, the current status, the ordinary world that everyone agree is true, before leading the audience toward the journey, “what could be”.

The chapter three explain how to get in confidence with the audience, and set the audience as the hero and the presenter as the mentor. Here I recon how important is to address all the category of people that can compose the audience; sometimes this concept works sometime you don’t need it, but it is a good insight to remember.

The big idea
She continue describing how to set and recognize big ideas, big concepts, what should be said and how to transform the audience point of view. Your audience is making a sacrifice to change their mind, to accept your proposal and you should know it very well the risk and the sacrifice. It is not simple to move the people to the action even if the can accept and understand your plea. Make sure to present the reward so it worth the risk.
This is really similar to some guidelines I’ve got form a experienced sales colleague who always said me to tell my product stories being sure to clarify benefits and value to the audience (thanks Brodie).

Create the contrast
Nancy explain across all the book how the contrast is the best way to catch the attention of the audience; it can seem not so simple to always compare what is and what could be, but the table below really help to find many other ways to create contrast.

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Introducing emotional content always create a lot of contrast and, depending on the nature of the audience, it has to be used properly.
You have to ensure there’s an appropriate balance between analytical and emotional content; for a highly analytical audiences, such as scientists and economists, have less emotional content than for a lay audience, but don’t leave emotion out altogether.
Personal stories usually are good inspirations for this scope and also help to get in resonance with the audience.

Turn ideas into stories
Probably the most important pages of the book, describe some method to transform the ideas in messages and create a story on that, with a good contrast inside. After collecting many ideas, you have to use a convergent thinking to filter out ideas and eliminates options.  The image below is probably on the most useful of the book, created by identifying the major topics, four or five, and listing three to five supporting ideas around each.

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From there, you can transform ideas in messages, full sentences that emotionally support the big idea.

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Chapter 6 helps understanding the importance of the structure and provide some good insights. First of all, initial outline help to visualize the structure, looking to the whole content, and ensure that there is a big idea. Storylike structures can be chronological, sequential, spatial or climatic. Some structure have embedded contrast inside, such as problem-solution, cause-effect, advantage-disadvantage, compare-contrast. Alternating between analytics and emotional content is another way to create contrast. The message order than, is very important and make a big difference in outcome; it is very easy to move from a motivating to a demotivating structure.

STAR moment
Create a moment where you dramatically drive the big idea home by placing something they’ll always remember in the presentation. The Bill Gates TED talks in 2009 clarify perfectly the concept :-). There are five type of S.T.A.R. moments: memorable dramatization, evocative visual, emotive storytelling, shocking statistics. You must have at least fifteen or thirty second message very salient and repeat messages and phrases frequently so that they can become slogan. Use pauses properly and clear signals on change points of the story.

Minimize the noise
Finally this chapter provide most useful ideas to improve the presentation. First of all, limit the jargon as much as possible, it make simpler to the audience to follow you also if they actually knows the jargon.

Be shorter as possible, don’t stay more than two minutes in each slide to recap the attention. The number of slides is note related with the lenght of the presentations…most presentations has multiple points per slide: these are DOCUMENT, not a presentation. Leave only one idea per slide and put in only elements that help recall your message.