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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.
(Music playing.) Nancy Duarte: The commitment to write a book was huge, but I didn't know how huge it was. I was starting to see little quips of young people say things like, we are going to start a presentation revolution. We are not going to do slides the way my mom does slides, and stuff like that. I am like, time out. I don't do slides the way your mom does slides. So it kind of stirred up this kind of competitive, wait a minute, no, no, no, if somebody is going to stand up and say, we are the leader in this, it needed to be me and my firm.
I think Edward Tufte would tell us that PowerPoint is evil, and it's not. It's not evil in itself. It's the users that have misused it. So back when 35-millimeter slides used to imaged, and that's what businesses used was 35-millimeter slides, graphic designers were involved in the creative process. There were professional slide people that designed them. Then when PowerPoint and Keynote and these other desktop tools came out, everybody suddenly could make their own visual aids, yet nobody stopped and said, wait, there is a right way and a wrong way to make a visual aid and that's kind of what my book does.
Ideas are like viruses. I think Seth Godin wrote the book, 'Ideavirus', and you have to give your ideas away and then it comes back to you. So I think there were people internally here that were a little worried about, shouldn't we hold some of this close to our chest, and really the design part isn't really the clever part. It's the concepts and the words and the big ideas that are getting expressed through the design thinking principles that are really what makes us different. So there were a lot of considerations about what should be included and what shouldn't, but I did love writing the book.
It was something I was passionate about. It all came out of my head. I didn't have to do any research in that I would sit at my desk in my office and tape it up all over the wall and study it, and then I would go home on Saturdays. I only wrote it on Saturdays in the evenings and it was still 3,000 hours of work. It was crazy. So I was working 16 hour days, both days on the weekend, 10-12 hours a day. I would have these breakthroughs, because it was all in my head, and I knew we had done what we had done, but to codify it and turn it into an actual methodology that's captured was very fun, because it was just common.
It was just the way we did things, but nobody had ever said why or how or the thought process behind it. So I would come home and be like, oh Mark, I had this great breakthrough on this one section, where I have kind of framed it like that and it was very, very fun. I think the funniest thing about writing a book is the feedback that you get. My life has changed. I will never be the same. We closed the deal. I felt really comfortable and I felt good. So it's weird. Projection is weird, because it's a size of a building behind you, and it's bigger than you are.
If it's attractive, you feel attractive. If it's really poorly put together, you don't feel completely put together. So to see people deliver their messages in a really clear way, really close the deals, really do a keynote well, it has been really fun to get some of those reports back. That's what we are trying to do is get people to fall back in love with this medium that's been kind of reviled and misused and abused and rudiment and that's been very fun.
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