“Resonate”: Communicate for Change

Almost every book I read, I read only once (although I might review my highlights). One exception is Communicating for a Change by Andy Stanley and Lanes Jones, which I’ve read three times in the last five years (see One-Point Preaching and 5 Years of One-Point Preaching).

Nancy Duarte’s Resonate, the latest book I’ve read, will be another exception. I came across Duarte’s work through her TED Talk on the book earlier this year (the 18-minute video is worth watching again and again; I’ve watched it three times, so far).

It’s going to take some work to process Duarte’s work as much as I need to. So, I’m going to write a series of several posts. I’ll sprinkle in some comparisons with Stanley and Jones’ work because I believe there are a lot of similarities. Stanley’s approach is much simpler and has been very important for me, but Duarte’s work has the potential to take communication to a whole new level.

One of the basic points Duarte makes is that the purpose of presentations is change (which certainly fits well with Stanley and Jones’ Communicating for a Change).

Communicating for change is not easy. Duarte writes …

Great presenters transform audiences. Truly great communicators make is look easy as they lure audiences to adopt their ideas and take action. This isn’t something that just happens automatically; it comes at the price of long and thoughtful hours spent constructing messages that resonate deeply and elicit empathy. (2)

Presentations are about change. … Organizations go through a life cycle of starting up, growing, maturing, and eventually declining—that is, unless they reinvent themselves. … If an organization doesn’t take a new path, it will eventually wither. (6)

This is certainly true for churches. That’s why the church I serve is going through the Matthew 28 Initiative, which is a strategy to help churches reinvent themselves and begin a new cycle of growth.

One of the reasons communicating for change is hard is because of the fear and sense of loss it highlights. Duarte suggests …

Keep in mind that a presentation is designed to transform the audience from one location to another. They 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. (76)

People have an innate sense of fear when embarking on a journey with an unknown outcome. This element is what makes change so frightening.

Change involves the addition of the new and the abandonment of the old. …

Be cognizant of the sacrifice the audience will make when you ask them to do something, because you’re asking them to give up something a small—but still irretrievable—slice of their lives. (84)

Good advice. With change, including positive change, there is always loss.

Duarte’s closing chapter is called “Changing Your World.” Duarte reminds communicators of the importance of communicating their message …

Ideas are not really alive if they are confined to only one person’s mind. Your idea becomes alive when it is adopted by another person, then another, and another, until it reaches a tipping point and eventually obtains a groundswell of support. (194)

Well, there’s lots more to process. For now, it’s a good reminder that communicators, and preachers in particular, must be change agents, always communicating for change!

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