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


Your client’s giving a major speech. What would be in the trailer?

From You’re Going to Want to Watch This Speech | The White House:

I just finished reading the draft of a speech the President plans to deliver on Wednesday, and I want to explain why it’s one worth checking out.

[…] It’s a vision he carried through his first campaign in 2008, it’s a vision he carried through speeches like the one he gave at Georgetown University shortly after taking office that imagined a new foundation for our economy and one in Osawatomie, Kansas on economic inequality in 2011 — and it’s a vision he carried through his last campaign in 2012.Watch that history here and see why this moment is so important.

This marks a first, at least for me: a presidential speech that has an actual trailer. (If you’ve seen anything similar, do share!)

But it’s a logical way to create some buzz, assemble an online audience and place the speech in the context of a broader narrative. I don’t imagine this is the last trailer we’ll see for a major speech.

And even if it never sees the light of day, imagining a trailer for your client’s next big speech isn’t a bad way to focus yourself.

In fact, go all-out, and imagine the blockbuster version. You’ll deal with a lot of the same questions a movie studio has to when they market a film: What is your audience expecting? What will move them? What will bring the sharp intakes of breath? And what will that one scene be that everyone talks about in the lineup to get into your movie?

A map of your speakers

Check out this story from BC Business… and in particular, this image:

A timeline vs. nerdiness map of an event's speaker rosterI think it’s brilliant: a quick visualization showing both a timeline of an event’s speakers, and how nerdy they are… that also becomes an appealing social artifact. Victoria, BC-based Social Media Camp has a reputation for fun and innovation, and BC Business honoured that nicely with this.

Think you could picture using it for your next event?

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.

Why Jon Favreau looked so tired the morning of Sept. 10, 2009

President Obama reviews a speech with Jon Favreau

President Barack Obama and Jon Favreau, head speechwriter, edit a speech on health care in the Oval Office, Sept. 9, 2009, in preparation for the president’s address to a joint session of Congress. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza – via Flickr)

Presidential communications are seamless, hermetic; they betray no sign they were ever anything other than fully polished.


But now and then, we get a glimpse like this, and we get a hint of the furious activity going on just below the surface: the endless cycles of revision and comment that ultimately turn out the glowing words scrolling up a teleprompter screen. In this case, it looks like a long night is in the cards for Jon Favreau.

Maybe it won’t be that bad. There have been times when I would have killed to have a client whose handwriting was as meticulous as Obama’s looks in this photo. If his directions are as clear as his penmanship, Mr. Favreau’s an even luckier man than I’d thought.

Catch Colin Moorhouse’s speechwriting workshop – in person or online

I’ve known Colin Moorhouse for several years now, mostly as a disembodied (phone, social media and email) presence — but a thoughtful, experienced and generous one.

Possibly the leading speechwriting trainer out there (with two decades under his belt!), he has a lot of insight and knowledge to share. And he’s done just that for countless students through his intensive annual two-day workshop at Vancouver’s Simon Fraser University.

You can also take Colin’s course online, running six weeks but with the same hands-on practical assignments, individual attention and focus on the business as well as the craft of speechwriting.

Both workshops start in March, but with Colin’s reputation, I’d sign up now. The on-site workshop takes place all day Friday March 1 and March 8 at SFU’s downtown campus. And the online course begins on March 15, with an early-bird discount available now.

Stop the downward slide: Eric Bergman’s ‘5 Steps to Conquer Death by PowerPoint’

Cover image of 5 Steps to Conquer Death by PowerPoint

I enjoyed Eric Bergman‘s book 5 Steps to Conquer ‘Death by PowerPoint’: Changing the World One Conversation At a Time, once I got over my initial disappointment that it isn’t about using PowerPoint to conquer death*. (I’d missed those all-important quotation marks.)

So, like me, you’re still going to die. But if you’d rather not do it behind a microphone – or in an audience – then you might like to check out Eric’s book. My review is in the January issue of IABC/BC’s Connect:

Somewhere in the world right now, someone is facing an audience with a remote in their hand, notes on their lectern, and a failed presentation in their immediate future.

Within the next 15 minutes, most of the audience members will have checked out: losing focus, interest, or – in extreme but not entirely rare cases – consciousness.

That scene’s going to play out around the planet today with thousands of groups from training seminars to team meetings to pitch sessions. A staggering number of PowerPoint decks will be shown today to an even more staggering number of people — with staggeringly little benefit.

That’s what Eric Bergman is trying to change. In 5 Steps to Conquer ‘Death by PowerPoint’: Changing the World One Conversation at a Time, the Toronto-based communication consultant argues that the vast majority of PowerPoint slides aren’t just being created in vain: they’re actively undermining our ability to communicate.

Let me know what you think!

* This will come as a relief to the Microsoft Office development team, who would see that as some serious scope creep.

Speeches and accountability: when a human has to say the absurd

Back in December, NRA spokesperson Wayne LaPierre finally broke the gun lobby’s silence after the Newtown massacre. And David Murray made this crucial point on his blog at Vital Speeches of the Day:

NRA chief reveals another valuable social purpose of speeches: They force leaders to say their position with a straight face. And we get to see what they look like when they say it. And that’s worth a hell of a lot.

That’s a critical point to remember about the power of public speaking. A news release, Facebook update or tweet can say the most absurd things in the world, and the text will look as straightforward and po-faced as if it was an announcement that toast is made out of bread.

But no matter how much time a communications team spends editing and fine-tuning a speech, a human being ultimately has to say these things in real time. (Such as “This is the beginning of a serious conversation. We won’t be taking questions today.”) At that point, we associate those things with a person and a face… and the speaker knows that’s exactly what we’re doing.

And that doesn’t just apply while we’re listening. In the era of online video, there’s a good chance that same human being will be held accountable at some point in the future if what they say turns out to be inaccurate, misleading or – in the cold light of day – absolutely awful.

There are speakers out there who are so delusional or unethical that this makes no difference to their delivery. But I’ve seen a number of speeches, news conferences and interviews where it quickly became obvious that the speaker had no confidence in what they were saying. Instead of just spinning, they were spinning out of control.

Thanks to YouTube and low- or no-cost video editing software, one incident like that can happen over and over again. With Autotune. And a backing track.

With any luck, that may provide a little added incentive for the otherwise-ethical when the temptation arises to defend the indefensible.

5 tips from Alex Honeysett, and two more from me.

Alex Honeysett offers a solid set of 5 Public Speaking Tips for Entrepreneurs who are nervous at the thought of getting up in front of an audience. Her advice includes

  1. practicing
  2. knowing your space (really important, and so often overlooked)
  3. knowing your audience
  4. finding the balance between self-promotion and the content people came to hear
  5. breathing – which is to say, relax.

I’m going to suggest two more:

Know what you want: What do you want the audience to do as a direct result of your speech? Maybe it’s to march on the capitol. Or to adopt a new open standard in public health inspections. Or to stop using “perpetuate” when they mean “perpetrate”.   Build your speech toward that, and then ask them directly to do it.

Know your story: If you know the spine of your story, if you can trace the unbroken logical flow of narrative in your sleep, then no matter what else happens on stage – speaking notes catching fire, mic melting into slag, PowerPoint inexplicably replaced with porn, Involuntary Sudden Onset Yodelling – you’ll be able to recover.

You, in the back. Stop looking at me and start tweeting. 

Jeff Hurt reports on a study that suggests tweeting during a class isn’t distracting – it actually increases engagement:

Education Professor Christine Greenhow, Michigan State University, conducted a study on Twitter as a new form of literacy. Her results showed that adults who tweet during a class and as part of the instruction:

  • are more engaged with the course content
  • are more engaged with the instructor
  • are more engaged with other students
  • and have higher grades than the other students.

via Now Proven! Using Twitter At Conferences Increases Attendee Engagement.

So the next time you look up from your speaking notes into a sea of heads bent over laptops, tablets and mobile devices, don’t despair – as long as they’re tweeting and not, say, checking their email, your audience may be more engaged with you than ever.