Review: Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds

Cover: Presentation Zen

We’ve all been there. A class lecture, or a business presentation, or some other event with a slide show. The speaker gets up, maybe a little nervous and showing it. He sets up his laptop and the lights dim. And then he talks. And talks. And talks.

Or worse – he reads! Is there anything worse than sitting and listening to someone read their own slides?! (Okay, I’m sure there is, but when you are sitting there in the moment it sure can be hard to think of something that is.)

If you’ve ever been in a situation remotely close to the one I described above, you will appreciate Garr Reynolds’ work. His book series coaches business people and others on how to craft a presentation without boring your audience to death. He explains the process from brainstorming straight through to delivery. And the photos and sample slides in the book are gorgeous! You’ll definitely want to open a stock photo account after reading this (but fear not – you can find creative commons images for free on the internet).

I first read this book as assigned reading for my New Media Driver’s License course at Michigan State University when I was working on my master’s degree, and it was my favorite textbook in the entire program. (Yes – I’m that much of a geek that I actually have a ‘favorite textbook,’ and I’m not afraid to admit it.) My only disappointment with the book was that the professors of other courses in the program weren’t familiar with the minimalist slide mentality. Admittedly, there are some viewers who will wonder where all the words went on your slides if you follow this style, and when I was crafting slide presentations for these word-loving academics I did have to go a little off Reynolds’ course. But for any presentation with an accepting audience or for creative work, give this style a shot. Your audience will appreciate it.

Let your work speak for itself. With as few words as possible.

Maybe it’ll help you avoid seeing him in your audience:

Student sleeping in class

Image: Flickr user HackNY