Did You?

By Doug Neff

Obama poster "Yes We Did"

Speeches, even historic ones, aren’t generally visual presentations. So Duarte Design didn’t really expect an invitation to provide visuals for the Inauguration (though we’re definitely available, should the need arise in the future).

Still, anyone interested in creating compelling presentations can learn a lot from President Obama.

The Duarte team gathered in our Town Hall on Tuesday to soak up President Obama’s Inaugural Address along with the rest of the world. And sitting there, I couldn’t help but marvel at Obama’s ability to get results.

After all, that’s the ultimate test of your presentation, isn’t it?

Did you get the sale?

Did they buy your book?

Did your students embrace and retain what you just taught them?

Did the Board vote for your proposal?

Did the committee award you the grant?

Did your team win the game?

And (for some of us) did you win the election?

A great presentation will be built with a rock-solid grasp of this end result in mind. At Duarte, we call it the “Big Idea”. This is the essence of your presentation, the reason you brought it into being, the moral of your story, your thesis statement, your brass ring, prime directive, highest ambition, goal, aim, target, or purpose.

Built on this foundation, a great presentation has the power to actually bring the Big Idea into being.

A solid Big Idea imbues your presentation with the power to inform, inspire, or persuade your audience. It lets you approach an audience who thinks and feels one way and leave them thinking and feeling a different way by the end.

If you’re not sure yet what your Big Idea is, drop what you’re doing and figure it out. Seriously. It’s so important to the success of your endeavor. You can check out a few tricks here, and we’ll have more to come in the future. We also spend time teaching this in our slide:ology workshops because we think it’s so important to your presentation. After all, don’t you want to be able to say “Yes We Did” once your presentation is over?

Speaking of “Yes We Did”, one of the great things about President Obama has been his ability to craft his speeches, his persona, even his campaign around his Big Ideas. And it worked, too. Just look at the scoreboard.

And his speech on Tuesday was true to form: informing, inspiring, and persuading all of us to help bring about his big idea for the country.

You can say what you will about his inaugural address (and you can bet that people will say things about your presentation) but the proof of a great presentation is really in the results. And I, for one, have high hopes for this one.

Topics Covered

Influencing, Storytelling

Written by

Doug Neff