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Eric Kuhn on PresentationZen by Garr Reynold December 10, 2009

Posted by eskuhn in Presentation Zen, [Books] Visualization & Presentation.

99% of presentations suck.

At least that’s what serial entrepreneur turned investor Guy Kawasaki says. And he’s right. Don’t deny it. You’ve seen these presentations, you don’t remember them, you might have even fallen asleep during them. And what’s worse: you’ve given them. So have I

But don’t worry, it’s time for penance. It’s time to right the wrongs of decks past.

Rarely have I picked up so much so quickly from a book than I have from PresentationZen. Built on the work of Nancy Duarte and Edward Tufte, this book is packed with advice on how to NOT bore people to death during your presentations.

“Our lives are frittered away by detail; simplify, simplify.”

The first lesson of PresentationZen is to keep things simple. That slideument you gave at the end of last summer’s internship? Never Again. And this time, they might actually remember it.

There are three stages:
1) Prepare
First, start with a beginner’s mind. Pretend you’ve never been given that corporate template. What do you want to say? What’s the best way to say it?
Secondly, step away from the computer. Go analog. Pen, whiteboard, crayons, whatever you want to use to dump the thoughts in your head, use it. Get it all out.
Thirdly, organize these thoughts in a storyboard, frame by frame. Fit what you can fit in these boxes. That’s all you’re going to use in your presentation.
Lastly, be sure to answer one very important question: “So What?”
2) Design
Garr Reynolds gives some great slide design advice, and I advise you to read the book if you’d like to learn the most. From signal-to-noise ratio to optimizing white space, the images in the book will help the design of your slides communicate far more effectively.
3) Deliver
People came to see one thing: You. If the presentation can stand on its own, why are you there? Designing your words and actions to supplement the deck are just as if not more important than the slides you just created. So show up!



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