What do the "I Have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King Jr., The Gettysburg Address, and Steve Jobs' 2007 presentation launching the iPhone have in common?
an expert on presentation design, they share a structure that seems to
be common to the most successful presentations. And successfully
communicated ideas, she believes are what change the world. Nancy Duarte says
ideas are best conveyed by stories, and audiences are moved by
presentations that incorporate stories. They need a beginning, a middle
and an end, and it helps when they include colorful imagery, a
combination of familiar and novel material, metaphors, and a sparkling
moment or two. And as presenter, she says, you have to remember you are
not the star, the audience is. "You're not Luke Skywalker," she says.
"You're Yoda." You're the mentor who brings the audience along to your exciting, life-changing idea.
But that's not all. Duarte says
she studied great speeches, plays, presentations and literature for two
years, and discovered a specific structure in the most successful.
These stirring pieces first present what is, then move to the loftiest
ideation of what could be. The contrast of the unsatisfactory status quo
and the inspiring ideal is repeated several times. It moves back and
forth, like a sailing ship catching the wind. The end combines a call to
action and possibility of ideal achievement, put forth in a dramatic or
Watch Duarte's provocative TED.com presentation on
"The Secret Structure of Great Talks." She sums up saying, "The future
isn't a place you are going to go. It's a place you create."