Learn more about the audience’s journey by exploring the multimedia version of Resonate by Nancy Duarte.

audience journey represented as a sailboat

Good presentations lead an audience to a specific destination, and your audience won’t get there unless you map out where you want them to be when you’re finished presenting. A sailor who wanted to get to Hawaii would never simply jump into a boat, unfurl the sails, go wherever the wind took him, and expect to arrive there after a few days on the ocean. Traveling just doesn’t work that way—and neither do presentations. You have to set a course. Once you’ve set a destination, it will serve as a guide for developing the right content. Every bit of content you share should propel the audience toward that destination.

Remember, moving the audience from one place to another is the goal of every presentation. The audience will feel a sense of loss as they move away from their familiar world and closer to your perspective. You are persuading the audience to let go of old beliefs or habits, and adopt new ones. When people deeply understand things from a new perspective to the point where they feel inclined to change, that change begins on the inside (heart and mind) and ends on the outside (actions and behavior). However, this typically doesn’t happen without a struggle.

That struggle usually manifests as resistance—but you can harness that resistance and use it to your advantage if you plan well. When a sailboat’s sails are set correctly, it can sail into the wind and still harness the wind’s power. In fact, a boat can sail faster than the wind itself —even when the gusts are in the opposite direction. Of course you can’t control the strength of an audience’s resistance, but you can “adjust your sails” (message) and use that resistance to gain momentum. When properly harnessed, forces that seem counterproductive can lead to forward progress. However, the boat (your presentation) needs to move back and forth in order to get there, just like the Presentation Form.

The journey should be mapped out and all related messages should propel the audience closer to the destination.

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