Presentations That Stick

Originally posted to the Duarte blog by Nancy Duarte.

Language and power are inextricably linked. The spoken word pushes ideas out of someone’s head and into the open so humankind can contend with adopting or rejecting its validity. Moving an idea from its inception to adoption is hard but it’s a battle that can be won simply by wielding a great presentation.

Presenting those ideas can either evoke puzzled stares or frenzied enthusiasm. The outcome is determined by how well the message is delivered and how well it resonates with the audience. After a successful presentation, you might hear people say, “Wow, what she said really resonated with me.”

But what does it mean to truly resonate with someone? While doing research for Resonate, I learned about lovely  phenomenon in physics. If you know an object’s natural rate of vibration, you can make it vibrate without touching it. Resonance occurs when an object’s natural vibration frequency responds to an external stimulus of the same frequency.

If you adjust to the frequency of your audience so that the message resonates deeply, they, too, will display self-organizing behavior. Your listeners will see the place where they are to move to create something collectively beautiful. A groundswell.

The audience does not need to tune themselves to you—you need to tune your message to them. Skilled presenting requires you to understand their hearts and minds and create a message to resonate with what’s already there. Your audience will be significantly moved if you send a message that is tuned to their needs and desires. They might even quiver with enthusiasm and act in concert to create beautiful results.