|Review of Visual Thinking for Design (Ward)|
|Review of Introduction to Information Visualization (Mazza)|
|Garr Reynolds' official site|
|Presentation tips on GR site|
|Garr Reynolds' blog|
By Kostanija Petrovic, Product Designer, Open Text Corporation – February 23, 2010
This review takes a personal look at Garr Reynolds' book Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery.
Garr Reynolds is currently Associate Professor of Management at Kansai Gaidai University where he teaches Marketing, Global Marketing and Multimedia Presentation Design. Garr is active in the Japanese community and can often be found presenting on subjects concerning design, branding, and effective corporate communications.
Garr is the former Manager of Worldwide User Group Relations at Apple Computer,
Inc. in Silicon Valley. With Apple, Garr worked with user groups (brand communities)
in the U.S. and Japan and traveled extensively delivering presentations, software
demos, and keynote addresses to the firm's most loyal customers. Before joining
Apple, Garr worked for most of the '90s at the head office of Sumitomo Electric
Industries in Osaka. Garr lives in Osaka, Japan.
(From www.garrreynolds.com, adapted)
Have you ever sat through a presentation that was much too full of information and much too long? And wait, there's more! You could hardly look at the slides, because each one appeared to be just slightly different or maybe had some weird typeface and colors? And then there was clipart that was out of – semantic and visual – context? Looking back, you can hardly remember what the presentation was about, but you know that you had the feeling someone was stealing your time.
Now, imagine having a completely different experience – or even being the one to offer people that different experience!
I came across Garr Reynolds' book, Presentation Zen, when I had the pleasure of listening to a couple of presentations given by a colleague that were utterly and truly different from anything I had ever seen before. They were emotionally engaging and witty, and they used very compelling visuals.
I was impressed and, frankly, I wanted to be able to do the same: to give presentations that are engaging, emotional, and memorable.
Figure 1: Bad example slide (fictitious): The slide is crammed with information, the background itself is very busy, the font hard to read, and guess what: the trees are actually a chart. Do you see more room for improvement?
Presentation Zen is sub-headed, Simple ideas on presentation design and delivery. Starting with a bento, a Japanese takeaway lunch, the author takes us on an inspiring journey away from bulleted lists and what he refers to as "Death by PowerPoint."
This book provides lots of practical advice about preparing, designing, and delivering presentations, including many recommendations for further reading. The advice draws upon Zen principles throughout, which is entertaining and thought-evoking at the same time.
Researchers have shown that humans cannot read and listen at the same time, but this insight has not yet found its way into the corporate world. And, because everyone uses some sort of corporate template, or some template supplied by the software used, we've gotten used to certain way of presenting and have never actually questioned them.
Hence, the first step to change – following Reynolds' advice – is to forget about how we did it in the past or how we were taught to prepare presentations.
Figure 2: Good example slide (fictitious): Only one thought at the time, the picture adds emotion to the message, the text is simple, and the transparent box behind the text enhances readability.
How will we change our approach to presentations? This is what Presentation Zen teaches us:
All of this is presented in a well organized, beautifully laid out book that makes the message even more compelling. This book is definitely recommended reading.