Today, I honor one of the greatest visionary leaders of all time: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King demonstrated for us that well communicated ideas change the world. His 17-minute “I Have a Dream” speech delivered on August 28, 1963 was a defining moment of the American civil rights movement.
In a book, titled “Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences”, Nancy Duarte uses Dr. King’s powerful I Have a Dream speech as a case study for how to create compelling and persuasive communications. She describes the speech’s “sparkline” in this video blog post.
I really like this book and had the good fortune to check it out from a public library. In this visually rich publication, Duarte describes powerful communication techniques that will benefit every nonprofit communicator and fundraiser.
If you are trying to raise money, create awareness or mobilize people for a cause, you will need to be ahead of the curve to be successful. Strong communications will keep people motivated and committed to moving forward. “Rallying stakeholders to move together in a common course of action is all part of the innovation and survival process,” writes Duarte.
“If you can communicate an idea well, you have, within you, the power to change the world.”
The book also asks you to question if your “call to action” resonates with all groups capable of taking action? Duarte describes those groups as:
- Doers – those who instigate activities
- Suppliers – those who get resources
- Influencers - those who change perceptions
- Innovators – those who generate ideas
In the nonprofit sector we are talking about all the “movers and shakers” from volunteers activists and board members to executive directors, donors and philanthropic leaders. Who will help you move your idea forward?
Stand out: Camouflage makes you blend in, and that is not what you want. Be bold. For your idea to gain traction you must stand out. “A great way to stand out is to be real.”
Be clear and transparent: What you want your audience to do (your call to action) must be very clear. “The enemy of persuasion is obscurity.”
Mix facts with emotion: With facts you also need emotional impact. When something resonates for you, what does that feel like?
Create meaning and make it memorable: Stories can transform the information and data behind your ideas into meaningful, visual memories.
Who is the hero? It’s not all about you. Your audience is the hero, and you are the mentor. Heroes help move your idea forward and bring the resources.
Connect with your audience. Whether you are writing a letter to one person or speaking to a large audience, what shared experiences and common goals do you have?
Where is the overlap? Find your common ground and communicate where there is overlap.
What is the reward for your audience? When your heroes champion your cause, will they feel proud of the results? Will they receive recognition?
Dream big. Everyone has the power to transform their world.