1-1-1 Express Book Review – “Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery” by Garr Reynolds

June 9th, 2008 Karine Joly 5 Comments

A quick look at the calendar of Higher Ed Conferences and Events I maintain, and you know it’s conference time.

Most of you will get a chance in the next few weeks to attend a conference, and listen to dozens of presentations and panel discussions.

As you might know if you’re a regular reader, I’ll be presenting the closing keynote at eduWeb in Atlantic City in July (just 7 weeks to go).

This will be my first keynote – and hopefully not the last one, so I’m just a tiny bit more nervous than I usually am before a presentation, but shhhht! – don’t tell anybody ;-)

Anyway, that’s what prompted me to buy and read “Presentation Zen,” the companion book of THE website about presenting today: www.presentationzen.com.

Here’s my 1-1-1 Express Book Review (See what’s a 1-1-1 Express Book Review) for “Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter) by Garr Reynolds:

1 thing I liked:
I don’t know if this can be explained by the “zen thing,” but my stress level went down quite a bit after reading it. In this book beautiful illustrated with pictures from istockphoto.com/presentationzen, Reynolds reminds us of something speakers tend to forget: presentations are about sharing something you know and trying to make a difference with that knowledge for the attendees.

1 thing I didn’t like that much:
I understand this is a very important point (upcoming pun intended), but I wish Reynolds spent a little bit less time on explaining why Powerpoint (as well as Keynote) and bullet points are evil. When it comes to presentations, I usually don’t totally kill the audience with bullet points, but I still use them. I’m not saying they’re good and I understand why they are bad. But, at the beginning of the book, I was getting tired of the “preaching.”

1 big take-away from the book:
You can find the big take-away of this book on page 61 with a series of 12 questions you should be asking yourself as a presenter when you’re planning your session.

The 12th is the most important one:

“What is my absolutely central point?”

“If the audience could remember only one thing (and you’ll be lucky if they do), what do you want it to be?

Simple, yet so easy to forget…

I know that many of you give presentations on a regular basis.
Tell us your top 3 tips for a successful one by posting a comment!

Never been a presenter, but suffered a lot as an attendee?
Tell us what should absolutely be avoided.

5 Responses

  1. Shelley says:

    Here’s my #1 tip: know your audience.

    My most frustrating times as an audience member have been when the presenter had clearly not made any effort to figure out who was going to be (or who was in) the room with him/her.

    Hope you have a great time in AC!

  2. Colin Fast says:

    I loved this book. I think Garr’s point about bullet points being evil goes back to the research he cites about how people learn. Show them a bunch of bullet points that basically repeat what you’re saying and they’ll just read ahead and not be engaged with the presenter. Unfortunately, most Powerpoint templates encourage this style of presentation.

    On the other hand, bullet points can certainly be effective in limited doses. Just watch a Steve Jobs keynote (like today’s WWDC address) for a great example of how to use them well.

  3. Kyle James says:

    Didn’t someone tell me that your just suppose to imagine everyone in their underwear or something?

    That’s an important takeaway and something I need to put a little more thought into. Thanks for this!

  4. Hi Karine … gee, I didn’t realize you hadn’t given a keynote before, but I know you’ll do very well. The book sounds so “zen-peaceful”, it sounds like it’s required reading for anyone who gives a presentation. They are hard to do as I’ve done a few and you basically should be yourself, speak about something you not only know well but LOVE with a passion, throw in a funny Powerpoint slide of cartoon or something to “wake them up” in case you see your audience falling asleep and then give away something at the end. Look forward to seeing you in a few weeks!

  5. Karine Joly says:

    Don’t worry Shelley :-)

    This will be my first “keynote,” but not my first presentation in front of a big audience. And, since Passion is my middle name, your conference attendees will be in good hands.

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