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Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery Paperback – Dec 17 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (Dec 17 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321525655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321525659
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 1.3 x 23.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #147,992 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"Please don't buy this book! Once people start making better presentations, mine won’t look so good. (But if you truly want to learn what works and how to do it right, Garr is the man to learn from.)"
Seth Godin
Speaker and Blogger
Author, Meatball Sunda e

"Garr is a beacon of hope for frustrated audiences everywhere. His design philosophy and fundamental principles bring life to messages and can invigorate careers. His principles of simplicity are as much a journey of the soul as they are restraint of the mouse."
Nancy Duarte
CEO, Duarte Design

"Presentation Zen is just fantastic. Best of all it's not another recipe book about “how to make slides” — this is about re-imagining how your entire presentation will work together as a persuasive and integrated show, from conception through delivery. Awesome."
Merlin Mann

From the Back Cover


Presentation designer and internationally acclaimed communications expert Garr Reynolds, creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the Net —— shares his experience in a provocative mix of illumination, inspiration, education, and guidance that will change the way you think about making presentations with PowerPoint or Keynote. Presentation Zen challenges the conventional wisdom of making "slide presentations" in today's world and encourages you to think differently and more creatively about the preparation, design, and delivery of your presentations. Garr shares lessons and perspectives that draw upon practical advice from the fields of communication and business. Combining solid principles of design with the tenets of Zen simplicity, this book will help you along the path to simpler, more effective presentations.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Presentation Zen is a MUST-READ book for any teacher, presenter, or preacher.

I cannot convey the frustrations I’ve had sitting through countless lectures, workshops, or sermons where the presentation slides have been slowly killing my mind and my soul. Thank God for Garr Reynolds, one of the best evangelists for presentation design and delivery. I love his heart for all things design, presentation, and art related.

I devoured this book in a few hours (it’s quite simple… but not simplistic). Very practical steps on how to prepare, design, deliver, and take the next steps for your development in presentation design and delivery. This book is also (probably) the ONLY book that the foreword was written in SLIDE format (done by Guy Kawasaki).

If you don’t want to get the book, check out Reynolds blog: P[...]

For an idea of the presentation design offered by Reynolds, check out the following video (part of the google talks series): [...]
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Long before there was PowerPoint, most presentations contained more columns of numbers and bullet points than pictures. PowerPoint seemed designed to capture the essence of those transparencies and make it faster to create them . . . while adding color. Compared to those ugly transparencies, PowerPoint seemed like an improvement.

By comparison, my dentist has always covered his walls with beautiful bleed images of gorgeous places combined with intriguing sayings about life. Those posters are the only uplifting thing about my trips to the dentist's office. He doesn't tell me any entertaining stories.

In presentationzen, Garr Reynolds shares with us that today's audiences like a standard PowerPoint presentation about as much as I like going to the dentist (I doubt if you are surprised by that). His prescription is to turn the typical presentation into a series of stories aided by exhibits that remind me of those dental posters while being very responsive (present . . . in his terminology) to the audience.

The book's main strength, and one that makes it well worth reading and following, is in describing a process that can be used to create a presentation that will be compelling. Even when I see a presentation that I like, I don't learn much from the example because the presenter doesn't share the process behind the result.

The examples almost all showed someone in a black turtle neck, black pants, and black shoes who looked like a Steve Jobs acolyte. As a result, there's an Apple versus Microsoft tone to the book that didn't match any environment where I ever see or give presentations (usually board rooms and senior corporate conference rooms).
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Format: Paperback
I bought this book, started reading it, and then promptly returned it. Reynolds presents some good, simple ideas, but he takes far too long to do so. His long-windedness and writing were too hard to take. I also found his riff on zen annoyingly pompous. If all he means is simple, he should say just that. As it is, he says simple and then goes on about zen. This is his typical approach, one that expands his text to at least twice its needed length. To pretend he's some sort of zen master and have his reader wade through fuzzy explanations of his ideas causes the sort of "suffering" he says his books aims to minimize.

If you've discovered that life is too short for long-winded books and are looking for a straightforward, no muss, no fuss guide to presentations, one that is well written and well designed, (apart, perhaps, from the cover, which I find much less attractive than any of the layouts inside the book) and gives lots of examples so that you can see exactly what the author means and why it makes sense, try Robin Williams' The Non-Designer's Presentation book. It's not only better; it's also cheaper. The Non-Designer's Presentation Book
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Format: Paperback
I have to say that I was sorely disappointed with this book. It's all about making glossy, simplistic presentation slides. That's it. That might be fine when you are marketing some product using emotional appeals, but when you are trying to convey real ideas with some complexity, it's totally useless. There's an example at the end of the book where a biology teacher uses this 'Zen' approach to teach concepts to university students. Each of his slides comprises of a couple of words and a glossy picture of a molecule - I felt SO sorry for his students! People learn concepts in different ways - some learn through hearing someone explain something, and others learn through seeing something written down, and to assume that everyone will 'get' it by hearing someone ramble on while pointing to these useless slides is just silly.
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If you need to do presentations as part of your work, this is an excellent book on creating presentations.

Many people have the misconception that presentations are about giving a bunch of information to people for their use. However, studies have shown time and time again that most people really remember very little from a presentation.

So - what ARE presentations about? They are about persuasion, discussion, and transmitting ideas.

You will definitely have a new perspective on the art of giving presentations after reading this book.

Note: if you don't plan to give any presentations, you may want to avoid this - your new perspective will make most presentations you watch afterwards seem like a big waste of time!
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