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Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Read the book. Liked it a lot. It is not about how to use PowerPoint. It doesn't provide step by step instructions to make slides. It is more of an approach, a road, a direction, a frame of mind, a philosophy.
The book is divided in three sections: Preparation, Design, and Delivery. I liked the design part the best.
Preparation is about ditching "dead by PowerPoint", "bullet points driven slides". From his point of view he explains clearly why bullet points and the hampered use of graphics can only confuse the audience. The emphasize is on beautiful designed slides with pictures or graphics that illustrates the point your making in your presentation.
During preparations he encourages you not to start with the computer and PowerPoint but he explains "analog techniques" to develop your presentations by using sticky notes, whiteboards, and post-its. Especially useful for academics is the use of hand out instead of cluttered slides with to much information.

Yes I hear you think, can academics use this approach? Yes they can. Even data can be presented in a more fashionable way. More understandable. Slide design can make the difference in understanding more clearly what point your trying to make. Here is an example:


The Design section is filled with examples of slides and tips on how to design slides. Not in a step by step approach but by explaining basic design principles such as Signal vs Noise Ratio, Picture Superiority Effect, Empty Space, Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity.
This section has a lot of examples.
You can see presentations based on this approach on
Lecture by Jeff Brenamn, CEO Apollo Ideas, with a medical topic, excellent example
Lecture by Chris Landry Director of Food Development & Communications
Lecture by G Kawasaki, Co-founder of Truemors

The last section is about actually giving the presentation.

As mentioned before I liked the book, it is a new approach to doing presentations, more visual, more focus. I read this book after I had read Beyond Bullet Points (BBP). This book is more of a step by step approach. It explains how you build a presentation on a storyboard. These two books complement each other because in Beyond Bullet Points emphasize is also placed on visuals and design next to the build up of the story. BBP has examples on how to use the approach also for academic presentations.
I read the first and second edition of BBP. Both depend a lot on Microsoft Office especially PowerPoint. The second edition focuses on Office 2007 which is not very compatible with older versions of Office and is not widely present on computers in the Academia.


I tried BBP twice giving lectures to students and colleagues. I liked it. It is not faster it takes more time to prepare the lecture and the slides but the results are very satisfactory. If you are in to something new read BBP first and than PresentationZen, enjoy.

The author of presentationzen has a blog all about presentations on also with slide examples

Also an example of the recent presentation of Steve Jobs: 6 Presentation tips from a Steve Jobs keynote, according to the book a amster in the art of presentationzen. With a comprehensive video of the keynote presentation (60 sec).

More presentations tips:
Creating Impressive PowerPoint presentations
PowerPoint Presentations: Tips To Avoid Last Minute Surprises
5 ways to screw up your talk from GTD in Academia

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