Nancy Duarte: The secret structure of great talks

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In her great analysis of famous speeches, presentation guru Nancy Duarte ( says that the most effective talks, the ones that make people change the way they think, move back and forth between what is and what could be. She analyzes Steve Job’s introduction of the iPhone speech and shows that the way he marvels at his own products is what compells the audience to feel the same way. She also shows how Martin Luther King built emotion by evoking song and scripture.

Every genre of speech has its own way of moving between what is and what could be, and engaging the listeners, and what’s right in one genre can not be transfered to another. In science, I’d say it’s the enticement of unexpected results, a good challenge to accepted thinking, and the outlook onto new horizons worth exploring that make an academic audience not only sit up and listen, but want to engage in science.
Since there is unfortunately no transcript on the TED site for Duarte’s talk, unlike for many other talks, you might as well watch it here.

Watch it on the TED site.


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