Reynolds is a speaker, consultant, a writer, and designer. He is a long-time student of Zen arts - and is currently an Associate Professor of management at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan. In his first two books Presentation Zen and Presentation Zen Design, he wrote about tools for planning and designing successful presentations. In this book, he focuses on the delivery of the presentation...how presenters can deliver natural and memorable presentations that connect deeply with the audience. Some of the key recommendations include:
1) Think Conversation not performance - natural delivery is more like a conversation between friends than a formal one-way lecture. Don't be boring. Don't read your speech. Make eye contact.
2) Prepare. Identify the purpose. (Start with 'Why?') When you present you are trying to create change in people's minds.
3) Establish "presence." Focus on the here and now. Be present. Take a risk and express your true self. Be authentic. Show your passion.
4) Project yourself. The Way you look. The Way you move. The Way you sound.
5) Have pace in your presentation. Attention spans are normally 10 minutes. You need to mix it up. Have the audience participate.
6) Begin with a punch. End with a powerful finish (inspire, tell a story)
7) I thought this excerpt captured the essence of Reynold's teachings from the book:
"I've always said that presentation is more art than science. So what is art?...Set Godin said this about art in the context of work: 'Art is a generous action - it's when a human connects to another human and makes a change.' The work that we do could be art, but if we are just following the rules, playing it safe, and sort of working-by-the-numbers (as in paint-by-numbers), then the work lacks connection and difference, and therefore lacks art. The best presentations are works of art because the best presenters connect in the spirit of contribution and generosity and help people make a change. The worst presentations are speeches are the usual ones, the ones that are perfunctory, route, safe and utterly forgettable. Nobody ever got fired for doing the expected and the safe...Today, more than ever there are opportunities to speak in front of others to make a connection and contribution to lasting change - that is, to create art."
My thoughts on the book:
1) Buy the Book - Skip Kindle. I'm as "green" as the next reader - however this book is written to be read (and owned) in print and not on Kindle. It is beautifully designed and intended to sit on your book shelf as a guide. Masterful in its design - its look and feel is "Zen-like" if I can take it that far in description.
2) This book is a quick and captivating read. While Reynolds does not introduce much in terms of new concepts, I found his ability to distill the message to the core essence of what's important to connect with audiences to be worthy. He practices what he preaches - this is a page turner for a self-help book - which holds your attention throughout. The book is well paced and mixed with stories, quotes, tips from professional presenters and beautiful Zen art.
3) Book is best suited for the advanced presenter. There are better options for beginners and intermediate practitioners such as:
How to Give a Pretty Good Presentation: A Speaking Survival Guide for the Rest of Us
Confessions of a Public Speaker