They say that we fear public speaking even more than death. I don’t know how true that is, but it certainly ranks right up there in the top ten for many people, including me. I have given many presentations over the years in all kinds of settings, and I still get nervous when I speak. Some people tell me that some level of nervousness is a good thing as long as it is not so bad as to paralyze me. There are a couple of issues that I face as a presenter. First, I am usually innately interested in my topic and thus sometimes forget that I need to help some people in the audience become interested in the topic. Second, I tend to focus on the technical aspects and forget to build a story to help people understand. I am not sure I will ever conquer these issues, but Nancy Duarte and Duarte, Inc. have helped me make progress.
Slidedocs & Slide:ology
I first became familiar with Nancy Duarte via her TED talk. I found her pattern of purposeful tension building and release intriguing and decided to check out the resources on the Duarte site. That is where I found Slidedocs. As a visual thinker, I have studied many graphic designers, including Ed Tufte, Michael Bierut, Massimo Vignelli, etc. Over the years, my style has evolved, and when I read Slidedocs, it took yet another turn. Slidedocs and her book Slide:ology greatly influenced my style and was the inspiration for the style I used to develop the Free eBook on this site Research Canvas. Slidedocs is a free ebook at Duarte.com – a must-read. In addition, there are free downloads to assist in developing your own Slidedoc style documents. But Slidedocs was just the beginning.
Resonate & Developing a Presentation
I then read Nancy’s book Resonate and became even more interested in how to incorporate story and tension into my presentations. For some people, the book might be enough, but I wanted more help, so I took the Duarte Persuasive Presentations eCourse. It just so happens that I had an upcoming Luncheon Keynote that I was preparing for, so I decided to use that as my “project” for the course. I worked through the modules, which are an effective blend of video introductions with Nancy, technical presentations of key concepts, worksheets, exercises, and quizzes to help reinforce the material. I used the module worksheets and exercises to develop the details of my presentation – one step at a time. I found that my thinking went through several iterations, and the presentation evolved as I progressed through the course.
Here are three “draft” versions and a final handout version that illustrate key points in the process. I began working on the overall concept of the presentation on my iPad Pro drawing out the key points, linkages, and flow. This was my first “cut” and a basic “brainstorm” draft.
Ideas for the presentation emerged as I worked through each exercise. I used a journal to keep track of the ideas at first but then migrated to my whiteboard. As I completed the exercises in the course, I used my whiteboard to diagram version #2. The photo of my whiteboard is the second iteration of the presentation, and as you can see, the ideas and linkages expanded and became even messier than the first simpler draft.
At one point in the course, I decided to move to another version that was cleaner and more organized. At this point, I changed the medium to sticky notes so that I could capture the key elements and “play” with the organization and flow without making a mess on my whiteboard. The pattern that you see in the two photos is my attempt to visually display the major tension and release cycles in the presentation. The first photo is of the left-hand side of the whiteboard, and the second photo is of the right-hand side of the whiteboard.
For the fourth version, I moved to presentation software and built the slides for the presentation. Due to equipment compatibility issues, I decided to use a PDF to present. When I do that, I use separate slides for the builds. So, instead of providing all the slides to the participants, I created a short handout in Duarte Slidedoc fashion. Download Handout
I still have a lot to learn about presenting and the visual display of ideas and concepts, but this was my best presentation to date. Here are a few comments from the participants via an anonymous survey by the conference. These were a direct result of the Duarte Persuasive Presentations eCourse.
Dr. Latham’s delivery was fantastic. His detailed insight of how/why certain Baldrige award recipients were successful, was quite illuminating. In particular, his message of just how important it is for leadership to be engaged and supportive of the process was very true.”
Best presentation of the day.”
The singular most outstanding Baldrige presentation I have ever heard. He elevated Baldrige to the next level with his ‘sustaining’ excellence and leaders as organizational designers construct.”
Thank you, Nancy and the Duarte Inc. Team!