Great Presentations Start With Resonance

Marketing podcast with Nancy Duarte (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes

I’ve been thinking and talking a lot of late about the topic of making great presentations because I think the ability to help people understand your ideas and come to your point of view is probably the most important business skill you can develop.

My guest for this episode of the Duct Tape Marketing is Nancy Duarte, CEO of Duarte Design and author of slide:ology – The art and science of creating great presentations and resonate – Present visual stories that transform audiences, two of the best books I’ve encountered on creating presentations.

According to Duarte, presentations are the most persuasive medium available for conveying ideas and yet it is also one of most reviled because people do it so poorly.

Duarte’s entire approach is centered around getting people to think more like designers – a term that comes from the Latin root to designate – by arranging images and words in a hierarchy to strike balance and harmony and amplify a message in ways that words alone cannot.

Most business folks and entrepreneurs aren’t taught how to arrange and present information, but spend most of their time arranging and presenting information.


Duarte’s design thinking for presentations uses story works such as the Hero’s Workshop to help audiences feel emotionally transported by a message in ways that make presentations resonate. Resonance has both a verbal and emotional component to it when talking about humans. A message resonates when we feel it and understand it and become emotionally engaged by it.

When it comes to a presentation of a message or even a complex set of data, a story is the sugar that helps the medicine go down.

Duarte creates presentations for organizations large and small and also conducts public workshops in her offices in California.

I can’t recommend her books enough and suggest that you get both and read them in this order before your next big presentation – read resonate first because it’s about structuring your message story, then read slide:ology because it’s about the visual creation of your presentation, and then go back and read resonate again because the story telling will make even more sense now.

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John Jantsch

John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.
  • Paul Simister

    Thanks John and Nancy for the tips.

    This struck home to me

    “Most business folks and entrepreneurs aren’t taught how to arrange and present information, but spend most of their time arranging and presenting information.”

    together with

    “A message resonates when we feel it and understand it and become emotionally engaged by it.”

    No wonder so much existing presentations and most formal communications are so bad.

    • ducttape

      Hey Paul – Nancy and other folks like her (Garr Reynolds is another) have really changed how I present.

  • Nathan M.

    Thanks for the information on these books; these should come in handy this coming Spring in my training workshops, and motivational seminars on small business and entrepreneurship. Great Stuff!

  • Eddie

    “The sugar that helps the medicine go down.” That is a great line. A story can be such a great illustrative tool to prove a point or peak the interest of the listener.

  • Nancy Duarte

    Thanks everyone for all the kind comments and retweets!

  • Theo van den Berg

    Any presentations from Nancy on how to create a great presentation? I’d think a great deck of slides would bring the point across better than a book :)

    • ducttape

      Well, you could learn by combining the two I guess – here’s a great set of example decks –

  • Scott Asai

    Design is so extremely important. It’s like the clothes you wear when making a first impression. When focusing on design, you’re more likely to think about how your audience will best remember what you say. Normally, we have all this information we want to cram down the mouths of those who are listening, but they end up forgetting it all!

  • Randzman

    Host said books are one of the greatest bargains on this planet… HERE HERE!!!

    My gosh, for literally pennies you can get a book that tells you wisdom of the ages… it’s unreal.

    For $15 I bought Slideology… that would take me decades to figure out … want that info from a university?… well if there’s a course about it then it would be $1500 or so.

    • ducttape

      Yes as an author it may sound self-serving but as a consultant it’s the best, least expensive advice I could offer.