Book Review - Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds
This is everything that I want my presentations to be when I'm up on stage... Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds. This will make you rethink everything you've known (and likely done) about how a presentation should be designed.
Introduction: Presenting in Today's World
Preparation: Creativity, Limitations, and Constraints; Planning Analog; Crafting the Story
Design: Simplicity - Why It Matters; Presentation Design - Principles and Techniques; Sample Slides
Delivery: The Art of Being Completely Present; Connecting With an Audience
The Next Step: The Journey Begins
Photo Credits; Index
There's so much good stuff here that it's hard to figure out where to begin. Reynolds advocates for a departure from the ordinary style of presentation involving PowerPoint. You've all sat through those (or given them)... Pages of slides, chock full of text, gratuitous use of special effects, etc. Presentation Zen is more about simplicity and storytelling. Your slides should support *you*, the speaker. If someone can get all the information from your slides, why do they need you? Your slides should not overwhelm the audience, but should draw their attention to the point that you are making in your talk. Couple this approach with the ability to tell stories rather than recite facts, and you can put together presentations that will be appreciated, remembered, and best of all, acted upon.
He also gets into how best to design appealing and arresting slides. Reynolds uses sites like iStockPhoto to avoid the overused and cheesy clipart that comes part and parcel with PowerPoint. And rather than just pasting a graphic on the screen under some text, the graphic *becomes* the slide, and the minimal text is positioned on the graphic in such a way that the slide becomes a work of art. Since I do technical presentations, my first objection was that this doesn't give the listener anything to take away in terms of content. But rather than make your slides the take-away, Reynolds suggests that you put together a separate "handout" document that can be given out after the talk (or downloaded). That document can contain the details and facts that you present, without overwhelming the listener during the actual talk. It's a simple concept, but not one that I've seen done often.
The bad thing about a book like this is it points out just how bad I actually am at presenting. The good thing is that it challenges me (as well as shows me) to get a whole lot better. This should be required reading for anyone before they start to put together anything in PowerPoint...