Duarte/Endicott: Presentation as 3-Legged Stool


Nancy Duarte’s Presentation Ecosystem was based upon Jim Endicott’s theory that presentation is a three-legged stool.  When I first heard this concept, I liked it, but I didn’t truly digest it.  Now, I totally get it.

The first leg is content or message.  In slide:ology, Duarte explains that this leg includes brainstorming, developing a theme, researching, organizing and structuring, developing an outline, writing stories, considering ethos/pathos/logos, and considering the audience by utilizing the Audience Needs Map.  Your content, your message, is important in a presentation… but it’s not the only part of your presentation.  Most people (especially people who are still killing us with bullet points and slideuments) emphasize content and don’t consider  the other legs of the presentation stool.

The second leg of the three-legged stool is visual presentation or visual story.  Visual presentation inclues your slideshow developed from your storyboard, diagrams, multimedia, colors, template, images, contrast, text, proximity, size and shape, fluidity and flow, speed, hierarchy, unity, space, and other design elements.  To learn more about visual presentation by Duarte, slide:ology is a must-read.  Now that you have your content and your slideshow, you may think your presentation is finished, but there is a third leg.

Image Credit

The third and final leg of the three-legged stool is delivery.  We often forget this exists because we’re so focused on, first, content and then visual presentation.  Some of us feel that delivery is the least important leg, and I’m not sure why, as I feel it’s extremely important.  I also feel “winging it” never works delivery-wise, and practice is essential for any presentation.  Learn more about delivery in my Delivery Workshop based on Garr Reynolds’ The Naked Presenter philosophy here.

When you think “presentation,” think three-legged stool: content/message, visual presentation, and delivery.


4 thoughts on “Duarte/Endicott: Presentation as 3-Legged Stool

  1. Mahdi

    I am researching on usage of body language by news anchors. In my research I compared the news anchors of two Iranian news programs with their BBC and Aljazeera counterparts. I found that the BBC and Aljazeera news anchors are more reflexible that their Iranian counterparts in using facial expression and body movement. The Iranian ones rarely use their body to show the depth of the message.

    I welcome any prospect to make a joint research on this or similar topic.

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