Mini Book Review: Resonate

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Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte

So, one and a half years after I got the printed version of Resonate, I still haven't finished reading it - but I did just finish the iBooks version. I'm not quite sure how much the two versions differ, though (don't have the printed version at hand right now).

Anyway, I think the somewhat interactive iBooks version (now also available online) is a much better approach to this specific topic in any case. When dissecting speeches, it lets you actually listen to them, lets you scroll through the sparklines, provides summaries of the individual sections, etc. All that is a tad too dry in the printed version.

Content-wise, "Resonate" is a passionate call to action, to make presentations more engaging: Tell stories, explain the current and the proposed future state of things, don't be afraid to show some emotion. If you've paid attention, these ideas and topics aren't new. But still, too many presentations are just boring lists of facts and figures and fail to initiate any sort of reaction in their audience (other than making them fall asleep).

The nice thing about the iBooks version is that you can actually watch Nancy Duarte sharing some of the ideas from "Resonate" in her TEDx talk at the end of the book.

While the audio, video, "behind the scenes" bits, and quizzes add some nice interactive extras and help make the subject more tangible, it's also obvious that we're still in the early stages of interactive books. The navigation of video snippets, e.g. Ronald Reagan's speech after the Challenger explosion, are awkard: Tap to start, tap to go full screen, watch, tap to go back to the small version, tap next video, ... Also, while reading the book on the train, it isn't always obvious if the extras include audio - will tapping this icon result in Martin Luther King declare "I have a dream" (and all the people around me looking up in surprise)? Oh, and I found an error in one of the quizzes (confirmed by Nancy on Twitter) - but it's pretty obvious and shouldn't fool anyone who read the book.

I'd suggest reading this book only after you're more familiar with the way modern presentations work (fewer bullet points, more visuals, stories, focus on the audience). But then it's the logical next step and will help you further improve your presentation style. Whether you buy the printed or the iBooks version is a matter of taste (and whether or not you have an iPad), I guess. The content is worth being read and digested in any case.

(Photo is of my copy of Resonate, signed by Nancy)

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Creative Commons Licence "Mini Book Review: Resonate" by Dirk Haun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.