January 3, 2018

Books for Speakers: Presentation Zen

Speaker's Bookshelf , Instruction , Resources , Public Speaking Books , PowerPoint

A favorite question in every class we lead is this: What public speaking books do you suggest we read? Our shelves are loaded with choices. Every month we'll be featuring a pick from new books we've come across and old favorites we go back to again and again.


Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

By Garr Reynolds

"Each situation is different. But we all know, though our own experiences, that presentations in business and academia can cause a good degree of 'suffering' for audiences and presenters alike.* If we want to communicate with more clarity, integrity, beauty, and intelligence, then we must move beyond what is considered to be 'normal' to something different and far more effective."

That's how designer and presentation consultant Garr Reynolds gets things started in Chapter 1, and we couldn't agree more. This is a useful book for anyone who regularly makes PowerPoint presentations and knows there has to be a better way.

Reynolds takes a holistic approach and outlines his three fundamentals: "Restraint in preparation. Simplicity in design. Naturalness in delivery."

Our favorite part--the clear demonstrations of how to re-think and simplify slides to make messages stronger.

In addition to sound tips for delivery, he dives into the principles of design that will make your supporting visuals more effective. That, for us, is the real selling point of this book.

If you read nothing else, go to Chapter 6, "Presentation Design: Principles and Techniques," for a visual lesson in how to retool your slide deck. It's full of terrific examples of how he reduced the signal-to-noise ratio of typical PowerPoint slides.

*Class note: In the spirit of reducing suffering for audiences and presenters, this year we're adding Workshop Your Presentation to our 2018 roster of open-enrollment programs. Find details here.

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