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  • Intelligent Shift

Great Communication - Resonate! Lessons from the Book

With some vacation last week, I was able to crack open two of my favorite books: Man's Search for Meaning by Frankl and Resonate! by Duarte. Today I want to focus on the latter (link to buy it below). Three items jumped out at me read through that really hadn't before.

The first was a quote from Ernest Hemingway, "The first draft of anything is S#*t." Wouldn't it be great if we actually lived like that. I remember a boss I had screaming, "This is crap. I expect finished products." It's like the story of Henry Kissinger asking a department to build a report on Korea (I think). They built charts and graphics. Got the 3 ring binders and filled up a thick one. They were proud. It came back the next day with a single post-it -- "You'll have to do better than that. H.K." They were devastated but rededicated to the task. More charts, more graphs, more interviews and more data. Thicker binders. It came back again. "You'll have to do better than that. H.K." The third time the boss put everyone on it. Days of long hours and more data. He decided to personally deliver it. In handing it over to Kissinger, he said something like, "Sir, please don't send this back. We have worked and worked it. There is no other data and frankly, we can't do better than this." Kissinger took the report and said, "Ok, in that case, I'll read it."

Sure you don't want lazy messes, but that wasn't the case. If we believe in drafts, we'd iterate quickly, not unlike Agile software. The process would be full of feedback and course correction. That truly feels like a better way. I am going to implement this mindset in my work.

The second item was Ms. Duarte's discussion of presentations vs reports vs drama. Reports are generally data heavy and factual. Plays and movies are emotional. Presentations are in between. Duarte asks an interesting question- when you give a presentation are you telling a story or just visualizing a document. Here's a challenge- tomorrow go into a briefing and assess the speaker for that. Do they have overladen wordy charts? Aren't they just visualizing a document then? Maybe that works for them, but is there a better way to present or should this just be a report? In order to sway the audience, how did they structure the story to appeal emotionally? Far too often we are just taking facts and splashing them up. We are evolved to react to stories and Powerpoint is the new campfire. Are we using it that way?

Finally, the book talks about how great presentations define Today and then paint a better Tomorrow. For example, think of Today and Tomorrow in Dr. King's I have a Dream speech. When you paint a better Tomorrow you create dissonance in the audience. They like you Tomorrow, but they don’t really want to change. If you made them care, they have to resolve the dissonance. It’s part of being human. They will ask you hard, maybe angry, questions. They will try anything to poke holes so they don't have to change. I've gotten frustrated with questions like these before. I mean, I just gave this amazing speech and this guy still doesn't get it??? I should have been happy that people were energized enough to engage. It's the quiet ones I didn't reach. So enjoy the questions, even the angry ones. You are doing something right.

The book is awesome. Go get it. Thanks TN for my copy.

Resonate! by Nancy Duarte

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