This blog is the eighth in a series of blogs on people that have added something important to the world of communications. Today, my gratitude is for Nancy Duarte. The series is personal and partial, but I welcome nominations for those you think I’ve missed. I’m grateful to these people because understanding how we communicate is desperately important to bettering our humanity in both business and life. Miscommunications are sometimes merely irritating, but sometimes fatal. Business communications are usually banal and boring and only occasionally riveting. Leadership is tougher than ever – and more than ever about communicating well. The great business communicators can turn little companies into dominant ones and truly change the world.
Which brings me to Nancy. Nancy’s the head of the design firm, Duarte Design, that created the slides, most famously, for Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth. Her strength is in telling great stories through powerful images, and she’s written a couple of books on the subject – Slideology and Resonate – both of which are essential elements of your communications library. I said in my previous blog that Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen was the best book on slides, but Slideology is every bit as seminal, and Zen only squeaks past in a photofinish because it’s shorter. (That would be the Zen influence.)
Nancy and I are both passionate about good storytelling, an area she has delved into since Slideology and which is the subject of Resonate. Naturally, since we’re both passionate, we don’t agree on everything, but if you care about storytelling and want to do it better, then you must read Resonate. There are lots of people paying lip service to the idea of storytelling, but not many actually pushing our understanding of it forward, and Nancy is one of the few.