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Presentation Zen December 7, 2009

Posted by Hernan Haro in Presentation Zen, [Books] Visualization & Presentation.
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Garr Reynolds wrote this great book that explains a very effective and minimalistic approach to how to build compelling presentations. It places the presenter in the center of the action, and emphasizes the importance of delivery. In the ends, the presenter is the ultimate reason why the audience is there. If they could get all the information from the slides alone, would it be more effective to send them over email so everyone can read them at his/her own pace?

To help structure the message Garr proposes to reuse the acronym SUCCESs, borrowed from “Made to Stick“. SUCCESs stands for simplicity, unexpectedness, credibility, concreteness, emotions and story. Most audiences have a very short attention span, so it is up to the presenter to find the right way to get the message across. Keeping the presentation simple is fundamental. If you try to communicate too much you are likely to end up communicating nothing. You must know what is the basic and most fundamental idea you want to communicate, otherwise your presentation won’t be clear enough and your audience will just NOT get it. The element of surprise is invaluable. Say the unexpected and your audience will listen to you, state the obvious and you will lose them. Build credibility to make your points stronger and be concrete. Saying one million people live in poverty is not as effective as showing a picture and saying: “John every day has to feed his family with less than what any of us spent in coffee this morning”. This example also appeals to emotions, and can help you build a story. We all love stories, tell stories, and – most important – remember stories. In the early days, societies used to transfer knowledge through stories. Stories have been passed on for centuries from one generation to another. Some companies are also realizing of the power of the stories, and including them as part of their knowledge management efforts. Building solid, concrete, emotional stories in your presentations is a safe way to be sure your audience will remember the message.

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