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Video: Nancy's story

(Music playing.) Nancy Duarte: I think I have always loved presenting. I took a lot of speech classes in high school and in college and I didn't do real well. I always got a A+ on the visual-aid side and I would make about a C in how well I get attached to the audience, like I didn't pick really audience relevant information. So I have grown and developed in that area. I have never really been afraid to get up in front of a crowd.
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Watch the Online Video Course Creative Inspirations: Duarte Design, Presentation Design Studio
51m 3s Appropriate for all Aug 01, 2009

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Duarte Design is on a mission to change the world, one PowerPoint presentation at a time. Nancy and Mark Duarte, the wife-and-husband team behind Al Gore's famous slideshow about global warming, have built a thriving business out of creating high-impact PowerPoint and Keynote presentations. Their company has become the go-to presentation resource for some of high technology's most visible companies, such as Adobe, Cisco, and HP. But Nancy will be the first to tell you that it's not the technology that matters most, but rather the story. This installment of Creative Inspirations tells the story of how this power duo elevated lowly PowerPoint presentations to arguably the most compelling form of modern media.

Subject:
Design
Author:
Nancy Duarte

Nancy's story

(Music playing.) Nancy Duarte: I think I have always loved presenting. I took a lot of speech classes in high school and in college and I didn't do real well. I always got a A+ on the visual-aid side and I would make about a C in how well I get attached to the audience, like I didn't pick really audience relevant information. So I have grown and developed in that area. I have never really been afraid to get up in front of a crowd.

So, to build a really good presentation I think it takes some analytical skills and some creative skills. So I was very confused when I was going to get to college. I went to high school and a year of college in Mississippi and I don't know if it's because of where I was located or just because high school kids didn't get a lot of exposure to career opportunities. So I had won a lot of awards for math and so I decided to declare a math major in college, but yet I always won a lot of awards in art, so there was just like analytical side and this artistic side.

So, kind of a visual thinking side and there really is nothing like that. So in business today we communicate visually. PowerPoint is the number two tool, second to email and it's a visual communication tool yet we are not taught how to communicate visually in school. So I just took this kind of conflicted part of myself where I was-- I felt like I was a visual thinker and applied that, studied just studied veraciously the design industry every single thing that it was ever put out, all the famous designers, all the design books and everything.

So that part, the graphic design part was self taught, but being able to see a strategy came over time. I actually had the privilege of when I was very young, a guy came through my line at Longs Drugs, which was my very first official job, and he said well, you seem really smart. I have a small business and I would love to interview for an opening. So I did, I went and interviewed and he let me run his whole shop and like quintupled his business in two years. So I did everything, purchasing, payroll taxes, the vacuuming, the cold calling, I did everything and it really gave me the entrepreneurial bug and then I left him to go to a high tech.

My only high tech client in Chico, California and I went actually to work for them and then so the transition down here to the Bay area for me was really easy because I was already in a high tech job. I love being a business owner. I love the autonomy of getting to wake up and decide where I want to be in five years, where I want the company to be, where I want the industry to be in five years. It's very powerful and fun. So, I just promoted Dan Post to President here and so he has taken the load of all the creative execution and I have got in to step in the modern ambassador role.

So I am out and about more, not promoting Duarte, but promoting the cause of presentations right now where, like I said, I do think its very powerful communication medium. So getting out there and teaching people how to do it really well, has been very fun for me and it's also help me out spawned another business unit at Duarte for training. So we are growing right now, a lot of training businesses are contracting but there is a real hunger for not knowing how to do pulldown menus in PowerPoint or Keynote, but really understanding how to see, how to do a presentation right and well.

If we teach them to see how to arrange things and how to think like a designer, how they assemble their next presentation will be very different, so that's really spawned this whole new business unit for us which has been very fun. Now, I have to manage kind of two different business units and trying to write a new book too, which has just been fun.

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