Ms. Duarte’s earlier books Slideology and Resonate changed the way I think about presentations and speaking. They breathed new life into the three-act structure, and gave us a valuable tool for analyzing speeches. And her idea of the STAR moment (for Something They’ll Always Remember) has given speechwriters and speakers alike a way to elevate every speech to a new level.
Now Ms. Duarte and Ms. Sanchez (the Chief Strategy Office of Duarte, Inc.) promises to harness the power of those past two books to the task of leadership, with Illuminate: Ignite Change Through Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols.
They stress the pivotal role of empathy in motivating others “to embrace big dreams and drive them forward.” Understanding how people experience change is critical to gaining not only their support, but their active participation.
That dovetails with an idea I’ve been exploring for the past three years. Loyalty to institutions is in its death throes. And the ascribed loyalty that comes with a leadership title is just as moribund. Instead of deferring to institutional authority, a new generation of employees, supporters and citizens is looking for inspiration and common purpose.
Leaders, increasingly, can’t command by fiat. Instead, they have to inspire alignment — and a big part of that is personal presentation.
The implications for public speaking are far-reaching. Authenticity, transparency and passion are taking on much more importance. And those who can tell compelling, convincing stories are poised to move to a more central role in their organizations — as communicators and as leaders.
Illuminate promises to shed some needed light (sorry) on how to tell those stories in a way that inspires and motivates. I’m looking forward to reading it (and I’ll review it here as soon as I do). But if it lives up to that promise, and I have every reason to think it will, this could be the most important book speechwriters read this year.