“Resonate”: S.T.A.R. Moments

I’m nearing the end of my series on Nancy Duarte's book, Resonate (see Communicate for Change, What I Like About the Book, The Presentation Form, Stories Transform Lives, and The Big Idea).

One of Duarte’s chapters is on S.T.A.R. moments, which stands for Something They’ll Always Remember.

The S.T.A.R. moment should be a significant, sincere, and enlightening moment during the presentation that helps magnify your big idea—not distract from it. … S.T.A.R. moments create a hook in the audience’s minds and hearts. (148)

The chapter concludes with this rule …

Memorable moments are repeated and retransmitted so they cover longer distances. (167)

Duarte offers a number of examples of S.T.A.R. moments, including Steve Jobs removing a MacBook Air from “one of those envelopes you see floating around the office” (149). I also like the one by Bill Gates, who was delivering a TED Talk in 2009 about the problem of malaria, which effects the poor, primarily. After raising awareness of the problem, Gates released a jar of mosquitoes into room saying, “There’s no reason only poor people should have the experience.” (View here; release occurs at 5:13.)

Duarte’s talk of S.T.A.R. moments reminds me of Andy Stanley’s challenge (in Communicating for a Change) to make it memorable. Using the metaphor of truck driving, Stanley urges, “Add something unexpected to the trip” (162).

Stanley writes …

The unexpected is always engaging. Always. … When something unusual happens, everybody is interested. So why not leverage this maxim to your advantage? Plan something unusual. (162-163)

Stanley suggests, “Use visuals every chance you get” (163). In addition to visuals, also consider “interviews, banter with an audience member, bringing people up on the stage, letting someone draw or paint while you speak” (163). The bottom line is, “look for opportunities to introduce the unexpected” (164). Sounds a lot like S.T.A.R. moments.

This is an area I’ve tried to develop ever since I started using one-point preaching (it’s also an area I want to improve). While I’ve a few images, I prefer physical objects/props. Some of the things I’ve used to make it memorable include …

  • Igloo
  • Pot and spoon
  • Big stuffed toy aligator
  • Tools
  • Toys
  • Bubbles
  • Lifesavers
  • Sign language
  • Walking stick

Once for a community Lenten service, I asked the host pastor to have some people from the church each bring a piece of luggage and line the platform with them. My message made the point that “God-followers are mobile followers!” My bag included a Bible, a compass, hiking boots, climbing rope, trail mix and water bottle, a mobile phone, and even Dramamine.

After one sermon a few years ago (in which I used an Igloo), I received a letter from someone in the congregation, which said, in part …

You touched a lot of people with your words … That includes my 6-year-old granddaughter who told her mother about it in detail down to ‘engage and disengage’ and what she needed to do to ‘fill her tank.’

Well, I think I’ve had a few memorable moments over the years, but probably not nearly enough; certainly not every week. So, it’s helpful to learn from others. At the Global Leadership Summit in August, Bill Hybels smashed a large clay pot on stage, reenacting a S.T.A.R. moment the prophet Jeremiah used many, many years ago. John Ortberg’s sermon on “An Ordinary Day With Jesus” utilized several memorable props, as well (by the way, John Ortberg is one of the case studies in Duarte’s chapter on S.T.A.R. moments).

So, what are the best S.T.A.R. moments that you’ve seen (or made)?

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