Nancy Duarte – A Story Teller's Journey

On June 19th, 2015 Nancy Duarte came to #StartupCincy and gave a talk about how to be an effective storyteller. Duarte, author of Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences, has been creating presentations for clients since Power Point presentations existed.

During her talk, she told the audience how storytelling can improve their businesses.

The Importance of Emapthy

Nancy talked about the importance empathy plays in entrepreneurship. She told the audience about her up bringing and how as a young girl she lived in an environment that was not conducive to learning how to be empathic.

Because of this, she actually received C’s and D’s in her communication courses in college. As she says, she got an F in empathy because she was unable to connect with her audience.

She eventually learned how to be empathic and now her entire career is built on building empathic structures for her clients.

The Evolution of a Design Firm


Nancy then talked about how her firm, Duarte, has gone through several reinventions throughout the years. First as a service firm, then as a design firm and then, after the dot com crash, a firm focusing on the niche of presentations.

These reinventions were pivotal to the success her company has seen throughout the years.

Lessons from India

For the next reinvention of Duarte, she decided to go to India. After hearing that large companies like HP were outsourcing their presentations to India, she knew she had to visit the place that had the highest likelihood of disrupting her business.

She realized that the design aesthetics of Indian culture would not be appealing to American audiences. However, she knew that in about eight to ten years the Indian workforce was something she’d have to contend with. This lead her to take Durate through yet another reinvention.

Becoming a Storyteller

Nancy decided to shift from servicing clients to creating stories for her clients. She knew her agency needed to act more like a publisher. As a result, she published her first book slide:ology. The success of slide:ology eventually gave her the confidence to write her next book, Resonate, that details the structure of a story.

The Structure of a Story

Nancy broke down Steve Job’s 90 minute long 2007 iPhone launch speech to illustrate the structure of great speeches. She showed how the greatest speeches alternated between what is and what could be. That alternation builds and releases tension throughout the story until the end of the speech which reveals the new bliss.

Become a Thought Leader

Nancy’s talk showed us how becoming a thought leader and producer of content can drastically change your business for the better. By becoming a good storyteller and producing content, you can foster an audience and dramatically increase your business.

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