By E. Brown

The Tao Of PresentationsI just reviewed the book, Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds. Actually, I have had the book for a while, but if you have seen my reading list you’d understand why it took me a month to get to it. OK, back to the book. I am always amazed at the common sense principles espoused in many new books that hit the market nowadays and Reynolds book holds much of the same.

The main theme throughout is the old K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Super Simple or Keep It Simple Stupid — choose your version). While reading I found myself asking, “Why do so many presenters not get it?”

I recently finished a project coaching 20 presenters for a large North American conference and it was a smashing success. Many of the principles I shared are contained in Presentation Zen. Yet, after the conference I debriefed with several of the attendees and speakers and was disheartened to learn that some of those I coached applied the tips I shared while some did not. Those who did not received harder critiques from the audience than those who did.

It occurred to me as a result of this recent project and after reading Reynolds book that the information and principles are and have been in the marketplace. People know them or at the least have heard them, but many feel “they know better.” Come Hell-or-High-water they are going to do what they want to do because “they know better.”

This is one of the things I like about Garr’s book — it is a reminder to keep it simple. Simple in text, simple in imagery, simple in design, and simple in scope and delivery. Remember, people have come to see and hear you. They are not there to view a deck of slides — the slides support you!

Much of the book you will have heard before if you have had much experience presenting. However, let me point out 2 or 3 gems that make this book worth buying. Chapter 3 – Planning Analog is worth the price in itself. Too many times have I seen presenters open Power Point and start putting their presentation together. This is a “No-No” and Garr gives excellent examples of how to prepare for the best presentations you will ever give. Also, Chapter 7 – Sample Slides: Images & Text provides those of us without the ability to visualize, pages of pictures that illustrate Garr’s points. Finally, just for fun, Guy Kawasaki’s Forward, presented in slides is a fun and memorable way to start a book on the subject.

This book is certainly for everyone, but I would venture to say it is especially useful for those in leadership positions who have the mentality that says, “I have been presenting for years and I know better.” Get a copy for yourself and while you’re at it, get a copy for your boss. He (or she) will be glad you did.

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