How did it get to this point? Let’s start at the beginning.
Nancy Duarte’s book Resonate has been on my reading list forever and I figured with my plans to present at ProductCamp Austin, it couldn’t be a better time to read it (also, it worked well with my 2012 book reading goals).
The book was highly recommended and I can honestly say that it lived up to the hype. Nancy’s philosophy for presenting is that it is up to the presenter to inform and inspire. To make this happen, Nancy advises that you take the audience through a journey to a destination. This means that every piece of content needs to build towards your final goal.
To accomplish this goal, you need to take time turning the information you have gathered for the presentation into a meaningful story. Here are a few of the techniques that I tried to use in my presentation:
- One idea per slide and evocative visuals:
- Order the structure for impact:
- My presentation started with tactical examples of how stories can be used to deliver the message and positioning of your product. From there I built on the idea that in order to be successful, all the stories that your company tells need to be aligned with a common framework. And then to support my theory, I ended the presentation with two powerful examples of companies that evolved their story over time helping them to maintain their differentiation and position in the market.
- Share the main event:
- In order to help keep the audience engaged and part of the story, I planned on including them in the discussion during the presentation. This would not only help build on the examples but make sure that my ideas were hitting home.
So, where did it go wrong?
When my presentation started, the system running the 20 foot display screen crashed. This meant that I had no audio or visual in a 300+ person conference room. As you can see in the picture above, it was kind of hard to see my 15″ laptop screen.
While I had practiced delivering the presentation several times, I had never done so without the slides. I was dependent on the visual cues for my supporting points and guiding the flow of my presentation. Additionally, I had quotes, like the following, that I had not memorized but needed for support.
Thankfully, the audience gave me some great encouragement to continue on with the talk. Overall, I was able to manage my way through but I know that it did not resonate at the level I hoped it would.
What will I do differently next time?
Overall, I loved the advice from Resonate and will use it as a mainstay going forward. I think highly visual slides are a good approach to telling your story but next time I will make sure that it is only the audience that needs to see them.
If you are going to go in blind to a presentation, you had better be able to see your story in your head if you hope to be able to communicate it to your audience.