Create a S.T.A.R. Moment
ResonateNancy Duarte

Content from Nancy Duarte, author of Resonate.

Browse more content from the author: Case Study: Michael Pollan's Memorable Dramatization

Create a S.T.A.R. Moment

Create a moment where you dramatically drive the big idea home by intentionally placing Something They’ll Always Remember—a S.T.A.R. moment—in each presentation. This moment should be so profound or so dramatic that it becomes what the audience chats about at the watercooler or appears as the headline of a news article. Planting a S.T.A.R. moment in a presentation keeps the conversation going even after it’s over and helps the message go viral.

Since you might be presenting to an audience that sees lots of presentations—like a venture capitalist or a customer who is reviewing several vendors—you want to stand out two weeks after you presented, when they’re making their final decision. You want them to remember YOU instead of all the other presenters they encountered.

The S.T.A.R. moment should be a significant, sincere, and enlightening moment during the presentation that helps magnify your big idea—not distract from it.

There are five types of S.T.A.R. moments:

Memorable Dramatization: Small dramatizations convey insights. They can be as simple as a prop or demo, or something more dramatic, like a reenactment or skit.

Repeatable Sound Bites: Small, repeatable sound bites help feed the press with headlines, populate and energize social media channels with insights, and give employees a rally cry.

Evocative Visuals: A picture really is worth a thousand words—and a thousand emotions. A compelling image can become an unforgettable emotional link to your information.

Emotive Storytelling: Stories package information in a way that people remember. Attaching a great story to the big idea makes it easily repeatable beyond the presentation.

Shocking Statistics: If statistics are shocking, don’t gloss over them; draw attention to them.

The S.T.A.R. moment shouldn’t be kitschy or cliché. Make sure it’s worthwhile and appropriate, or it could end up coming off like a really bad summer camp skit. Know your audience and determine what will resonate best with them. Don’t create something that’s overly emotionally charged for an audience of biochemists.

S.T.A.R. moments create a hook in the audience’s minds and hearts. They tend to be visual in nature and give the audience insights that supplement solely auditory information.

Famous S.T.A.R. Moments
Richard FeynmanRichard Feynman

Richard Feynman helped investigate the space shuttle Challenger disaster. He quickly identified the failure of a crucial O-ring as the probable cause of the explosion. To illustrate his point, he bent and clamped a piece of the rubber O-ring and secretly placed it in a cup of ice water. At a perfectly timed moment, he loosened the clamp and as the rubber slowly uncurled he said, “…[F]or more than a few seconds, there is no resilience in this particular material when it is at a temperature of 32 degrees.” The press went nuts because it should have expanded in a millisecond.


Bill GatesBill Gates

Through his philanthropy, Bill Gates hopes to solve some of the world’s biggest problems, including malaria. In his 2009 TED talk, Gates established the gravity of this disease by stating that millions have died, and 200 million people are suffering from it at any given time. He then stated that more money is spent developing baldness drugs on behalf of wealthy men than on fighting malaria for the poor. At that moment, he released a jar of mosquitoes into the room saying, “There’s no reason only poor people should have the experience.”


Steve JobsSteve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a master at unveiling Apple products in intriguing ways. “This is the MacBook Air,” he said in January 2008, “so thin it even fits inside one of those envelopes you see floating around the office.” With that, Jobs walked to the side of the stage, picked up one such envelope, and pulled out a MacBook Air. The audience went wild as the sound of hundreds of cameras clicking and flashing filled the auditorium. “You can get a feel for how thin it is. It has a full-size keyboard and full-size display. Isn’t it amazing? It’s the world’s thinnest notebook,” said Jobs.