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Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences 1st Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 191 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 860-1300286471
ISBN-10: 0470632011
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  • Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences
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Product Description

Presentations are meant to inform, inspire, and persuade audiences. So why then do so many audiences leave feeling like they've wasted their time? All too often, presentations don't resonate with the audience and move them to transformative action.

Just as the author's first book helped presenters become visual communicators, Resonate helps you make a strong connection with your audience and lead them to purposeful action. The author's approach is simple: building a presentation today is a bit like writing a documentary. Using this approach, you'll convey your content with passion, persuasion, and impact.

  • Author has a proven track record, including having created the slides in Al Gore's Oscar-winning An Inconvenient Truth
  • Focuses on content development methodologies that are not only fundamental but will move people to action
  • Upends the usual paradigm by making the audience the hero and the presenter the mentor
  • Shows how to use story techniques of conflict and resolution

Presentations don't have to be boring ordeals. You can make them fun, exciting, and full of meaning. Leave your audiences energized and ready to take action with Resonate.

Create a S.T.A.R. Moment
Presentation Tips from Resonate

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 water cooler 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 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 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 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.

Case Study: Michael Pollan
Memorable Dramatization

Michael Pollan is a natural storyteller who teaches people where food comes from. His books, The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, have reshaped how Americans think about the current food system.

When Pollan spoke at Pop!Tech in the fall of 2009, there was one point in particular where he wanted to leave a deep impression on the audience. He and his team had calculated how much crude oil it takes to create a fast food double cheeseburger. It was a staggering amount, and he wanted that message to stick.

When he was introduced at the beginning of his presentation, Pollan walked on stage carrying a paper bag from a fast food chain. “A little something for later,” he said. He placed it on a table in the middle of the stage and started his presentation—thereby leaving the audience in suspense about the prop on the table.

Later, when Pollan was drawing connections between oil and the food supply, he said, “I want to show you how much oil goes into producing this [cheeseburger].” He pulled out the burger from the paper bag. Then he pulled out an empty eight-ounce glass and a container full of oil. He filled the glass with oil. “But that’s not all. You need another eight ounces.” He reached under the table and pulled out a second glass. Then he did it again. And again. In all, it took twenty-six ounces of oil to produce one double cheeseburger.

Showing the audience the burger next to the crude oil used to produce it was a disturbing visual—one that the audience would almost certainly remember the next time they made food choices.

From the Author: PowerPoint Templates for Presenting Abstract Ideas
Check out 10 PowerPoint templates to help illustrate abstract concepts.


a lavish, coffee table-style book packed with useful and adaptable techniques for improving your presentations Resonate

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley and Sons; 1 edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470632011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470632017
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (191 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,297 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Zen Faulkes on September 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved Nancy Duarte's 2008 book, Slide:ology. She has now written her first book, Resonate. Yes, you read right. Her second book came out two years ago. (Sort of like how the first Star Wars movies came out a couple of decades after the later films.)

Duarte describes Resonate as the prequel to Slide:ology. And she's right.

Resonate is the book to read first, because it is about the reason for giving a presentation: to change people's minds, to persuade, to take action. In contrast, Slide:ology is more about design of visuals: the things that you work on once you've know what you want to talk about.

At the core of Resonate is her thesis that all good presentations have a common structure. Great presentations start with "the way it is." Then, they make repeated contrasts between "the way it is" and "the way it could be." Finally, great presentations end with a call to action, and a promise that new, greater things are possible.

It's simple, but don't dare think for a second that it's stupid. Scientists will probably appreciate the repeated analysis that Duarte has done to show that this structure is variable and rich. It's similar to how stories can follow the same basic plot structure, but differ profoundly in almost every other way.

Another unexpected inversion is in how Duarte conceives of the importance of story. She has something more in mind than anecdotes or telling a narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end. The presenter's role is not to be someone like Sherlock Holmes, who explains and unravels the plot.

The presenter's part is to be Ben Kenobi.

It takes a little while to get used to this view. At first, it's somewhat paradoxical to think of the person given a presentation as a supporting character.
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I love this book! The core concept of translating presentation from the boring to something of interest is not a new idea. However, this book book draws on many of the gems where I have found brilliant thought such as Joseph Campbell and Richard Feynman.

It's not just another business book. It runs deep and helps with a thought process. It brilliantly and visually presents concepts. I'm struggling for words because, oddly, I don't want to give away any of it! Can you give away the plot of a 'business' book? Well, if the book tells a story you could. So I won't.

I want to say this too. I read a lot of business related books and lately have been just burned out by all the shallow stuff and rehashes of old ideas. I mean really burned out from hearing the same old stuff. That said, I was thrilled from the first page of this book to find good, solid thinking presented in a fresh and exciting way. Also, my biggest fault with business type books is that they are long on what we should not do, short on what to do and completely lacking on HOW TO. Not this book. You get plenty of "how to."

My best clients will get this book as gift.

Chris Reich
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I bought this rather expensive book because of the fantastic reviews from others, and because of Nancy Duarte's reputation. I am so incredibly disappointed in this book... Incredibly disappointed. I teach SEO, Social Media, and AdWords both online and in San Francisco, and so presentations are critical to my work. I teach what are pretty boring subjects to pretty busy people and work really hard to make those presentations shine - a sense of humor, a good story, lots of workable analogies, and concrete to-do's for my students.


I am always eager to learn, and improve. What better way than some of the best of the best, Nancy Duarte, for example?

I opened the book, and loved the acknowledgements page - pictures of Nancy and the gang with their heads on little dolls... good explanations of who did what, a positive vibe. I thought - WOW, this will be a great book, as it already mixes visuals and words to be interesting!

Then begins the disappointment. Page upon page of teeny tiny type. With platitudes like 'You can have piles of facts and still fail to resonate. It's not the information itself that's important but the emotional impact of the information.' (pg. 14). You're kidding? You need to have more than facts? Wow! I never in a thousand years would have thought that, Nancy.

Or 'incorporate story.' 'It's become the cultural norm to write presentations as reports instead of stories. but the presentations are reports.' Really? You should tell stories? How about a story of a struggling teacher who read a lot of great reviews on Amazon from your pals, bought your expensive book, and just nearly wept because it was such a waste of money. That's a story. My story of reading this book.
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2012-1129: Just 2 years & one month ago I wrote the reviews shown below the double-dash line. After repeatedly reflecting on the book, I think i finally "get it." On a literal level, sound-harmonics can "encourage" sympathetic vibrations of items around it. (Ever been alongside a car with a boombox blaring and your own car started vibrating?) To have that effect on our audience on a heart-motivating, mentally stimulating level is to learn what causes them to "vibrate" with motivated action and then to accentuate that vibration through our words--both WHAT we say and HOW we say it. (People seem to instinctively know how to get their closest associates' "goat" by teasing them. Its the same concept but in a positive way.)

I bought Slide-ology and wrote a review of it for peers at work. (I love sharing.) I stumbled across Nancy's new book, "Resonate" quite by accident and immediately ordered it here on Amazon. I have read a little over half(on pg. 126 of 232 currently--back matter constitutes another 15 pages or so).

Although I have truly found some material mentally invigorating, I do have two big criticisms:

1) Nancy (the author) uses the terms "resonate" and "frequency" in such vague ways that the reader never really quite figures out what she means. I really wonder if she herself knows what she means. I counted at least 4 contextual meanings, none of which are consistent. Its not that I need just one all-encompassing definition, its just I couldn't get a handle on just how to understand those terms.

2) The book is unnecessarily too long. I reviewed the TOC multiple times. Although it appears structurally logical, when I read the actual content, it seems to bounce around a great deal.
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