This is the seventh post (with one to go) in a series of posts I’ve been writing to engage Nancy Duarte's book, Resonate (see Communicate for Change, What I Like About the Book, The Presentation Form, Stories Transform Lives, The Big Idea, and S.T.A.R. Moments).
A few years ago, I wrote a post on using mind-mapping for sermon preparation. That post on StoryMapping is the third most visited post ever on the blog and the fourth most visited in the last three months. While I no longer create the mindmaps/StoryMaps like the one I showed in that post, the concept is still part of what I do.
Since reading Resonate, I’ve been using sticky notes to do essentially the same thing I was doing with a sheet of paper before. The advantage of sticky notes is that you can move them around as the talk comes together.
Chapter 5 deals with creating “meaningful content” (97). Duarte discusses generating as many ideas as possible through “idea collection” and “idea creation” (98). Duarte’s advice:
Grab a sheet of paper or a stack of sticky notes and jot down everything you can imagine that supports your idea. The goal is to create a vast amount of ideas. (98)
Duarte talks about two types of thinking: “Divergent thinking generates ideas, while convergent thinking sorts and analyzes ideas toward the best outcome” (118).
Convergent thinking involves making choices to narrow down the topic. Duarte states, “It’s a violent creative process to construct ideas, destroy them, regroup them, select them, reject them, rethink them, and modify them” (119).
I’ve always said that the editing process is crucial (though I do it better at times than others). Duarte suggests …
Make edits on behalf of the audience; they don’t want everything. It’s your job to be severe in your cuts. Let go of ideas even if you love them, for the sake of making the presentation better. (119)
Two of the most valuable pages in the book are 142-143 where Duarte presents a visual “process recap.” Here are the basic steps …
- Generate ideas
- Filter down
- Cluster ideas
- Create messages
- Arrange messages
- Add supporting points
- Strengthen the turning points
- Verify contrast
- Visualize message
Thinking in terms of my current process, described in The 4 Ss of Sermon Preparation, I try to read through a printout of my Scripture text and highlight words/phrases and jot notes on it (Soak), read study resources (Study), then begin shape the message (Shape). It’s usually during the Shape phase that I start using sticky notes.
Resonate will improve this process. My tendency is to converge on a single point too early in the process. In the future, I will try to do more divergent thinking on the front end before converging on a single big idea.
How might this be helpful for you in your communication?