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The secret structure of great talks

I saw this really interesting TED talk on the Youth Ministry Geek site and wanted to say a few words about it. It’s a talk by communication Nancy Duarte on the ‘Secret structure of great talks’. Nancy Duarte starts with pointing out that we have the power to change the world with our ideas, but that it comes down to communicating our ideas the right way.

She has analyzed great speeches to find out what the underlying structure was and has found a ‘secret structure’ that all these talks have in common. It turns out it’s about painting a vivid picture of what is and what could be, of making the status quo unappealing and selling your idea to change it. She shows analyses of Steve Job’s iPhone speech of 2007 and Martin Luther King’s famous ‘I have a dream’, both of which show that pattern of going back and forth between what is and what could be.

There are a lot of applications for sermon writing here. Aren’t almost all sermons trying to convey an idea, describing the gap between how we are and how we should be, between what is and what should be? Interestingly, Nancy Duarte’s model or structure is based on a story telling model and in her talk she recognizes the power of stories several times.

By the way, her own talk wasn’t that impressive. I’ve heard much better, especially with TED talks. I thought her intro was weak and she gave the impression she was actually nervous (especially notable in the beginning of the talk and at the end, when she shared something personal and laughed a bit inappropriate in my opinion), which is kind of interesting for someone who is such an expert on giving presentations. Still, what she said is very much worth listening to!

I’ll leave the rest for you to discover, but wanted to tease you with these fantastic quotes:

“You’re not Luke Skywalker, you’re Yoda” (anyone quoting Star Wars gets bonus points from me!)

“Model to the audience what you want them to feel”

“You have to catch the resistance”

What do you think of her talk and especially the structure she advocates for talks?

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0 thoughts on “The secret structure of great talks

  1. This is great. Have you read her book? I am going to read her book slideology.

    1. I thought her other book sounded really interesting as well, Resonate. I’m interested in both books actually, sounds like they may offer some new insights!

  2. For a talk on giving great presentations, she didn’t do that great, in my opinion. Although, her ideas were interesting.

    1. That’s exactly what I thought. I had the impression she was really nervous, which is kinda funny for someone who supposedly is such a great speaker…But indeed, her ideas were really interesting and in the end, that’s what mattered most to me.

  3. […] an extra tip, don’t forget to check out this post on the perfect structure for great talks. It’s not specifically aimed at sermons, but it would be perfect if you have a strong […]

  4. This is really good, Rachel.

  5. […] The secret structure of great talks Rachel Blom drops the knowledge! […]

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