Two years ago, Nancy Duarte‘s book slide:ology proved to be a great resource for perfecting the visual aspects of presentation—it was well-designed, thorough and the visual material was striking. I didn’t expect anything less from one of the foremost experts on presentation. Nancy’s newest book, resonate, explores the engagement and storytelling aspects of presentation and has the same hallmarks of design and colorful writing set by slide:ology.
I’m a big advocate of stories and storytelling, not only in presentations but in communication in general. I actually have a “creative communications” presentation that I have given a few times. A good story is naturally more compelling and persuasive than just a collection of facts or bullets, and this clearly applies to presentations.
resonate brings strong evidence that a good story makes for a good presentation. There doesn’t seem to be as many case studies in this book as in slide:ology but philosophy from the likes of Joseph Campbell, Syd Field and Aristotle are used to illustrate the storytelling process. The jump from screenwriting and storytelling to presentation design and content is explained in detail and supported well by the case studies.
If there’s one complaint I have about resonate, it is that the art of storytelling is not covered enough in the book. Nancy covers a wide range of material and pages are spent on motivating audiences, improving presentations through practice, using presentations to change the world and not for “evil,” and other topics peripherally related to storytelling. I don’t think I can ding resonate for including these because they are important to the ultimate goal of presenting better, but I think there is more to be explained about the storytelling process and more techniques that could be explored.
resonate is another exceptional book from Nancy. I don’t know where she will go from here as an author—the two aspects of Duarte’s “VisualStory™” method already seem to be covered by slide:ology and resonate—but I hope there’s more aspects of presentation she is ready to write about. resonate was a real treat to read and review.