Book Review - slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte
It's almost a cliche to complain about how most presentations are horrible. But fortunately there are a select few books out there that take you beyond the mechanics of creating a presentation. Nancy Duarte has one of those books that need to be read by every presenter... slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. It's my hope that this book gets a wide reading by all who stand up in front of groups and convey a message.
Introduction; Create a New Slide Ideology; Creating Ideas, Not Slides; Creating Diagrams; Displaying Data; Thinking Like a Designer; Arranging Elements; Using Visual Elements - Background, Color, and Text; Using Visual Elements - Images; Creating Movement; Governing with Templates; Interacting with Slides; Manifesto - The Five Theses of the Power of a Presentation; Reference; Index
Duarte leads a design firm that is responsible for shaping the message and images that define a company's message. In slide:ology, she distills down the important information they use to design slides and presentations that make an impact, both visually and emotionally. She starts with defining how presentations are meant to convey ideas, not slides. All too often, presenters use slides as a crutch to hide behind. If all the information is there, then they don't have to worry about forgetting anything. Conversely, they also aren't needed as part of the presentation, either. These text-heavy, multi-bulleted slides are really documents in disguise. They're meant to be printed off and read, not presented to a group. After the theory and concepts are presented, she gets into the mechanics of how those impact slides are created, everything from color and font selection to image use and placement. In many ways, the book is also an example of her work. Rather than pages and pages of text with standard images, the layout is designed to enhance the message and cement the concepts in the reader's mind. Although it feels like you're reading a work of literary art, you're also absorbing the message almost without effort. It's nearly impossible to come away from reading slide:ology without looking at presentations in the same way again.
Up to the point of reading slide:ology, I was convinced that Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds was the only absolute "must read" for presenters. I would now contend that slide:ology should be purchased and read at the same time. I've started to incorporate many of these ideas in my presentations, and it's made a major difference (positively, that is). You owe it to yourself, and especially your audience, to read slide:ology. You'll be happier with your efforts to communicate, and your audience will be MUCH happier listening to you present.