Business Message Strategy

Why Resonate?

Two years ago, I set out to uncover how story applies to presentations. There seemed to be a story-like magic to the presentations that caused change and spread broadly. Since I already had the context of thousands of presentations my firm had created for smart companies and causes, I studied what I didn’t know: screenwriting, literature, mythology, and philosophy—allowing myself to be led on a fascinating journey.

Early in my research, I stumbled on this graphic made in 1863 by German dramatist Gustav Freytag that he used to visualize the five-act structure popular in Greek and Shakespearean dramas. It shows the “shape” of a dramatic story. The drama builds toward a climax and then resolves.

Freytags_pyramid

When I saw Freytag’s pyramid, I knew that powerful presentations must also have a contour. I just didn’t quite know what the shape looked like yet. I also knew that presentations are different from dramatic stories because in a presentation, it’s rare to have a lone protagonist whose story builds toward a single climactic moment. Presentations have more layers and have disparate pieces of information to convey. Dramatic stories have a single climax as the crowning event whereas great presentations move along with multiple peaks that propel them forward.

I’ll never forget the Saturday morning when I finally sketched out a shape. I knew that if it was accurate, I should be able to overlay it onto two very different yet game-changing presentations. So I painstakingly analyzed Steve Jobs’s 2007 iPhone launch and Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech. Both mapped to the form I had sketched. I cried. Literally. It felt like such a mystery had been revealed.

There’s something sacred about stories. They have an almost supernatural power that should be wielded wisely. Religious scholars, psychologists, and mythologists have studied stories for decades, trying to determine the secret to their power.

It’s still the dawn of the information age, and we are all overwhelmed with too many messages bombarding us and trying to lure us to acquire and consume information (then repeat the process over and over). We live in a more selfish and cynical era, which makes it tempting to be detached. Technology has given us many ways to communicate, but only one is truly human: in-person presentations. Genuine connections create change.

Nancy Duarte

AUTHOR |

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  • GordonG

    OK, Nancy – put me out of my misery — what does your shape look like?
    🙂
    Gordon

  • GordonG

    OK, Nancy – put me out of my misery — what does your shape look like?
    🙂
    Gordon

  • Hi Nancy, the whole world is now curious after the Saturday morning shape….. Please help Gordon and me….

  • Hi Nancy, the whole world is now curious after the Saturday morning shape….. Please help Gordon and me….

  • Allyson

    And me!

  • Allyson

    And me!

  • I guess one aspect of the shape is to ‘leave them hanging’ and another aspect is to present the solution. So what is the shape (solution) because I am hanging. 🙂

  • I guess one aspect of the shape is to ‘leave them hanging’ and another aspect is to present the solution. So what is the shape (solution) because I am hanging. 🙂

  • She is going to pull the shape out of her pocket and say… “There’s one more thing…”

  • She is going to pull the shape out of her pocket and say… “There’s one more thing…”

  • pia

    OK so we only got through “Exposition” and “Rising Action” … Now for the “Climax” or do we have to wait for the book you are writing? I hope not. Thank you for an otherwise great first book and blog.

  • pia

    OK so we only got through “Exposition” and “Rising Action” … Now for the “Climax” or do we have to wait for the book you are writing? I hope not. Thank you for an otherwise great first book and blog.

  • Do speechwriting “schools” have a shape they follow?

  • Do speechwriting “schools” have a shape they follow?

  • Hey y’all. Okay, okay. A sneak peek for you! http://www.viddler.com/explore/juliewurm/videos/6/
    I did a training talk for TEDx folks. This might be the next blog post.

  • Hey y’all. Okay, okay. A sneak peek for you! http://www.viddler.com/explore/juliewurm/videos/6/
    I did a training talk for TEDx folks. This might be the next blog post.

  • GordonG

    Thanks, Nancy, for the link. However the link you gave was your 2nd presentation with Julie based on Slide:ology not the first (based on Resonate) which gives a preview of your story pattern and which is listed in the sidebar of the page you gave the URL for. The actual video is located at http://www.viddler.com/explore/juliewurm/videos/2/
    Gordon

  • GordonG

    Thanks, Nancy, for the link. However the link you gave was your 2nd presentation with Julie based on Slide:ology not the first (based on Resonate) which gives a preview of your story pattern and which is listed in the sidebar of the page you gave the URL for. The actual video is located at http://www.viddler.com/explore/juliewurm/videos/2/
    Gordon

  • GordonG

    Thanks, Nancy, for the link. However the link you gave was your 2nd presentation with Julie based on Slide:ology not the first (based on Resonate) which gives a preview of your story pattern and which is listed in the sidebar of the page you gave the URL for. The actual video is located at http://www.viddler.com/explore/juliewurm/videos/2/
    Gordon

  • GordonG

    Thanks, Nancy, for the link. However the link you gave was your 2nd presentation with Julie based on Slide:ology not the first (based on Resonate) which gives a preview of your story pattern and which is listed in the sidebar of the page you gave the URL for. The actual video is located at http://www.viddler.com/explore/juliewurm/videos/2/
    Gordon

  • GordonG

    Please ignore the first copy of the two comments just posted – it has the wrong URL embedded.
    G

  • GordonG

    Please ignore the first copy of the two comments just posted – it has the wrong URL embedded.
    G

  • You’re right! I posted the wrong one. Here’s the right video: http://www.viddler.com/explore/juliewurm/videos/2/

  • You’re right! I posted the wrong one. Here’s the right video: http://www.viddler.com/explore/juliewurm/videos/2/

  • I think Gar would say ‘It’s not about the shape, but about your approach’. Or something like that…

  • I think Gar would say ‘It’s not about the shape, but about your approach’. Or something like that…

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