These are my live blogged notes from the webinar Training Online: Creating Visual Stories That Resonate by Nancy Duarte. My side comments are in italics. Any errors, typos, and incomplete thoughts are mine, not Nancy’s. Check out Cammy Bean’s notes too.
She started with her personal story, told mostly with old photos on the slides and very little text
Story: likeable hero, encounters roadblocks, emerges transformed
Why are so many presentations bad? We use presentations to create reports–dense “slide-uments”
When you need to persuade, use a story
Every story should have a beginning, middle, and end, with a turning point to move between sections
The presenter is not the hero of the story: the audience is the hero. They are the ones who have the power and must decide to take action. You are the mentor (she showed Yoda on Luke’s back while talking about mentors)
Joseph Campbell story structure
- Ordinary world
- Call to adventure
- Refusal of call
- Meeting with the mentor–this is a turning point
Freytag’s dramatic story structure; has a shape.
She wondered if great presentations had a shape like this
- What is
- What could be (the gap between this and what is is the “call to adventure”)
- Keep going back and forth between these two
An image of this shape is found in this summary of Duarte’s book
This shape can be used as an analysis tool She analyzed a 90-minute speech by Steve Jobs, who kept the audience riveted, laughing or clapping about every 30 seconds.
Jobs was passionate about his product and constantly marveled at it during the speech
STAR moment: Something They’ll Always Remember
Same kind of analysis for the I Have a Dream speech. Lots of pauses, more like poetry than a traditional speech. King had a rhythm to his speech. Color coded analysis for the words: repetition; metaphor, visual words; familiar songs, scripture, literature; political references. He moved back and forth between what is and what could be at the phrase level at “I have a dream”; makes more excitement. Familiar references touch something that already resonates within the audience.
The stakes are higher now. It used to be that you could get away with crappy presentations because everyone else is crappy too. Now, there are books and best practices, and TED presentations set the bar higher. Twitter also sets the bar higher; the audience no longer has to suffer alone. They have a back channel and can revolt against a presenter. The audience can say cruel things. (example tweets from the disastrous #heweb09 keynote). Back channel can be good too; people may move to a good presentation they hear about on a back channel at a conference.
Don’t stay trapped in the roadblocks section of your own story. Push through and emerge transformed.
We need to find what we are passionate about to change the world.
Question: What do you do when you’re not fighting for human rights or a product that can’t be marveled at like the iphone?
Answer: some people really need to have passion and some don’t. Everyone needs to be passionate about something, but it may not be work related. People won’t invest in their communication skills if they aren’t passionate.
Question: How much time do we need to invest in our communication?
Answer: If you are given something you need to present in 3 days, it’s probably not high stakes. Categorize what is really important and what isn’t, and fight for the ones that are important. When you are launching your new 5-year vision, or making a big sale, you need to put a lot of time in.
Question: Going back to your “present in person” idea from the beginning, what about globally dispersed teams that don’t meet in person?
Answer: Plan and prepare. She stood up in front of pictures of people to practice so she would talk more like face to face in this online format. Your biggest competitor with virtual presentations is their inbox; if you aren’t more interesting than their inbox, they’ll be reading email. Think about getting their attention back. Break it into very small “Halloween candy size” bites to keep them engaged.
Question: You mentioned investing time in improving communications. What are ways people can invest in their skills?
Answer: Be a consumer of good information. You also need to practice it. They have workshops, other people do too–toastmasters
Question: Is there a time limit on keeping interest?
Answer: Depends on the speaker. Some can hold it for much longer. Emotionally charged content can engage people for longer.
Question: Who is your favorite storyteller?
Answer: Several favorites: Cheryl Sandberg (COO Facebook) is one
Question: Are there differences between people in how interested they are in stories? Are women more interested in stories than men?
Answer: Women may have a higher capacity for emotional content. There are stories as little anecdotes, overall themes, or story structure. You need to know your audience. Emotionally charged content may not work with biochemists. Everyone is human though, and everyone responds to story if it applies.
Question: How many slides should you use?
Answer: It depends. Keep one idea on a slide. If you have 5 ideas on a slide, the audience will read ahead and think you are slow. Slide count doesn’t really affect presentation length; if you click fast, you may have a lot of slides. This was about 75 slides for about 35 minutes of presentation.
Question: What do you do with SMEs who want to include everything in their presentation? How do you help them chunk content into smaller bits?
Answer: Slides are free. It’s not like you’re printing and more slides is more money to print. Sometimes a slide does need more information. They usually do printouts for dense information so they walk away with it rather than trying to cram it on a slide. Put a picture of the handout on the screen and tell people to look at the handout instead of looking at dense text on a slide.
Question: What is the greatest lesson you have learned from a webinar that didn’t go well?
Answer: Technology glitches. She had 25 people in the room, 200 online. It was distracting. She didn’t do a technical walkthrough first. Energy is really hard when you are the speaker and everyone else is muted. You have to keep your own energy very high.
Question: Back to the sailing analogy: how do we use the wind resistance idea to catch the audience’s attention?
Answer: The best way is to grab a few coworkers or the potential audience members. Let them think about ways people might resist. Get people who are comfortable being honest about resistance and reactions.
Question: How do your in person presentations differ from what you do in a webinar?
Answer: She really feeds on audience energy, but she tries to not have much gap. She describes things more visually when presenting online to make up for physical presence.
Question: How do you build this in written materials? Can we use this storytelling in emails or other communication?
Answer: Yes, this can work in other forms of persuasion. Her book resonate follows this form on every page, and then the book follows the form.
Question: Best practices for hybrid live/virtual audiences?
Answer: Make sure the technology works. Acknowledge that people who are calling in are humans too to make them not feel like they are outside looking in.