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Monday, 17 December 2007

New design book for the ages: Presentation Zen

Preszen_ There are few books  I have read  that give me goosebumps.  Presentation Zen:  Simple ideas on presentation design and delivery is one of them.

By means of context, everything about the book is a "sweet spot" of my interests and attractions.  I adore photography, and the images used in the book (from my favorite image source istockphoto) are truly stunning.  The ideas on presentation and communication fit squarely with my taste and experience.  And the author, Garr Reynolds, has a wonderful narrative voice, which is all at once calm, wise and powerful.

Here is a taste from the introduction:

"A teacher for one who seeks enlightenment would say the first step for the student is to truly see that life is somehow out of sync or off-kilter, that there is "suffering" if you will.  And that this "out-of-kilterness" is a consequence of our own attachment to things that are inconsequential.  Likewise, the first step to creating and designing great presentations is to be mindful of the current state of what passes for "normal" PowerPoint presentations and that what is "normal" today is out of sync and off-kilter with how people actually learn and communicate.

Each situation is different.  But we all know, through our own experience, that the current state of presentations in business and academia causes its own degree of "suffering" for audiences and for presenters alike.  If we desire to communicate with more clarity, integrity, beauty and intelligence, then we must move beyond what is considered to be "normal" to something different and far more effective.  The principles I am most mindful of through every step of the presentation process are restraint, simplicity, and naturalness:  Restraint in preparation.  Simplicity in design.  Naturalness in delivery.  All of which, in the end, lead to greater clarity for us and our audience."

As one who has suffered through years of excruciating PowerPoint presentations, all I can say is "Hallelujah!"

This book was born from Garr Reynold's blog of the same name, Presentation Zen.  It contains context and instruction for great presentation design from Garr and other experts, how-to information for putting together great-looking visuals as well as lots of samples of real-world slides.  Although designers will appreciate its detail and focus, it is a book for anyone who uses images and words to communicate.  Which is pretty much everyone.

And a bonus too juicy and sweet for me to imagine, I am featured in the book, using the sample slides from my mini-movie My Declaration of Independence.  Given the caliber of some of the people in the book like Seth Godin, Nancy Duarte, Guy Kawasaki and Merlin Mann, I feel like a first-year drama student called on stage to act with Laurence Olivier. I am humbled and very thankful to be included in what I think will be a design book for the ages, which will be perched on bookshelves around the world, alongside weathered copies of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style.

So to follow the advice from the "the first forward in history presented in a book as PowerPoint slides," by Guy Kawasaki (which will delight and amuse you when you see it):

So open your wallet and buy it.

Then open your mind and read it.

Then open your heart and do it.

It is supposed to ship from Amazon starting today, December 17.

Congratulations Garr on creating a truly useful and stunning work of art.


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Jed Christiansen

I've been reading Garr for ages now, and agree with absolutely everything you said.

Well, except for one thing. I just tried ordering his book, and Amazon told me not to expect it before February 2008!! I'm not sure if that's an error as it's still officially in "Pre-order" status, or maybe Amazon has already sold out the copies they've ordered. I really want this book!



Garr is checking it out and I will report back Jed!

OK Jed, here is what Garr says - good news!

"The book was released today from the pub's warehouse to Amazon. So the statement by Amazon is incorrect. This is often the case for Amazon.
Book should be available in a week or so I guess (sooner?). It does exist in large quantities -- it's just a matter of filling all the orders, etc."

Waiting till Feb would be excruciating, I know. :)


Shama Hyder

Congratulations Pam! I will definitely have to buy a copy to read and one for my coffee table so guests can view the pictures!

Byron Borger

Thanks for your sweet and insightful and passionate recommendation of a book, by a great author. Your care for this comes through, and it is exciting to see. (And congrats on being mentioned in it--thanks for sharing your joy in that, too. Some leaders may think it beneath them to admit to a human moment like that. Way to go!)

However, as I may have posted before, it seems you might have said, should have said, to considering buying it at your local indie bookshop or "whereever fine books are sold." Not a few of us who took the leap years ago and go out of the cubicles and started our own book stores are closing up, you know, one, by one, by very sad one. Some have gone back into the cubicle world of places like faceless A-zon. Reviewers and even publishers affirming the machine at A-zon and thereby hurting us, is so frustrating; we might think that at least those on "our side" would be more intentional about who they support, and who they ignore.

If the friend who posted earlier perplexed by the real street date of the book would just place a phone call to their local bookseller, they will have the proper info within the day.

Jeff Brown

Do I need this book?

Can hound dogs smell pork chops?

Thanks so much for the review.

Cloud Gaze

I stay hopeful that one day, some different audio/visual ideas delivery tool will replace slide shows.

In the meantime, I might just give this book a look.


Scott McArthur

Tremendous news! I love Garr's work and although we in the UK wont get his book as quickly as you in the USA it is top of my list for 2008! Thanks for the review I - I have posted much of it on my own blog. Thanks

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