The truth, a story and pictures: Dan Roam on powerful presentations

If we tell them the truth, tell them that truth with a story, and tell that story with pictures, our presentations will be extraordinary.

‘Show and Tell’ Author Dan Roam Talks to Marketing Smarts

I’m a fan of Dan Roam’s. He delivered a fantastic presentation to the Nonprofit Technology Conference a few years ago (you can see my sketchnotes here). And his books The Back of the Napkin, Unfolding the Napkin and Blah Blah Blah are terrific guides to using simple pictures to do a dramatically better job of thinking and communicating.

Now his latest, Show and Tell, focuses specifically on presentations. For folks who are sick of stock-photo-laden PowerPoint decks and dense, meandering gabfests, this could be a life-saver. I can’t wait to read it.


Nancy Duarte’s Resonate is free on iBooks

iTunes - Books - Resonate by Nancy Duarte

This is worth a heartfelt OMG: Nancy Duarte’s Resonate is now available as a free download from iBooks. You need an iPad or a Mac to use this version, but it has all sorts of interactive goodness and bonus material, including lots of video.

I’ve gone on about Resonate at length before, but to recap: if you write or deliver speeches and presentations, it’s absolutely invaluable. (And if you don’t have an iPad or Mac, you can always buy it minus the supplementary content.)

Go get it!

Resonate by Nancy Duarte

Whatever the opposite of “Presentation Zen” is

It always warms my heart a little when separate spheres of my life bump into each other. And my webcomic-reading, cartoon-drawing sphere just nudged my public-speaking sphere in the latest installment of John Allison’s webcomic Bad Machinery.

Bad Machinery - March 12, 2013

This guy (the dad of one of Bad Machinery‘s main characters, a circle of kids who solve mysteries) has to con a room full of people into believing a cock-and-bull story (rather than the truth, which is that his son helped to save the city from a walnut-shaped hope-eating monster). His allies: a 287-slide PowerPoint deck and a thermostat.

The sad truth, of course, is that he isn’t the first to deploy this strategy. Dense, impenetrable thickets of text; charts and graphs whose meaning seems to reverse if you so much as shift in your chair – these are proven methods of failing to communicate while appearing to communicate.

A stifling, unventilated room… well, that’s just icing on the cake. (Melted icing, if it’s been in that room for any time at all.)

I’ve sat through presentations where it dawned on me at the 10-minute mark that the speaker was trying to snow me. And then sometimes, at the 20-minute mark, I’d realize they were also fooling themselves. Bad slides can help provide cover for sloppy, muddled or faulty thinking – from the speaker as well as the audience.

via Bad Machinery – March 12, 2013.

How Nancy Duarte prepares for a TED-esque talk 


Nancy Duarte delivering a presentation


10 Ways to Prepare for a TED-format Talk

It’s kind of reassuring to know that even a public-speaking icon like Nancy Duarte can run over time (even if it did take a nasty chest cold to make it happen). But reading through these tips, it’s hard to imagine much short of a ferocious virus forcing you off-schedule if you followed them.

But that’s not what really stood out for me in this list (although I’ll definitely be adding a few of these to my repertoire). It was point number four:

A lot of times, as the presenter, you know your material so well that you think you’re making each key point clear. You might not be. Your coach should make sure you are telling people why. It’s the “why” around our ideas that make them spread, not the “how”. Articulate the why so your audience understands what’s magnificent about your big idea.

Whether I’m writing speeches or delivering them, I’ve always found that’s what cracks the nut. Everything else falls into place (sometimes with some shoving, I’ll admit) when you have the “why”.