Nancy Duarte is CEO of Duarte, Inc. and the author of Resonate, Slide:ology, and the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Her latest book, Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols, co-authored with Patti Sanchez, shows how the world’s greatest leaders use powerful communication to move people and ideas forward. She has a passion for teaching others about the power of persuasive presentations to drive change in the world.
In this conversation, Nancy talks about Illuminate.
Geetesh: Nancy, what does Illuminate as a book mean to you as an author? What is its raison d’etre? And how was it to co-author this book with Patti?
Nancy: My firm has been in the Silicon Valley 28 years now, and my medium-sized organization has been through 5 reinventions, which has led to changes in our industry over the decades. It’s been a challenge to constantly innovate and reinvent the organization while at the same time keeping the employees excited about their unknown future.
For years, clients would call to have us help with their next great presentation. Then, they started to say that it wasn’t about just spreading the idea. For them, it was about a movement. This meant that we would once again have to shift our firm into understanding what it means to communicate in a way that moves people en masse.
So my co-author Patti and I studied what made great movements work. After three years of intense research and writing, we found that the most successful movements are a lot like the structure of epic tales, and at moments along the way, people need speeches, stories, ceremonies, and symbols to stay motivated.
Geetesh: For a reader, what would the biggest takeaway from Illuminate be?
Nancy: Great leaders are torchbearers. They illuminate just enough of the path into the dark and scary unknown to dissipate fear and motivate their travelers to make the journey with them. When the principles in Illuminate are put into practice, you will empathetically understand the people you’re leading and keenly understand what change feels like to them. This book helps leaders orient themselves in how to communicate change during five different stages of transformation, and design the right moments along the way to keep their travelers motivated.
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