Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds

presentation-zen-book-reviewPresentation Zen by Garr Reynolds is a great book about a creative act of preparing, designing, and delivering presentations. It should be a prerequisite for anyone who attempts to do presentations in front of a group of people in order to 1) not waste peoples’ time 2) clearly present the message 3) influence the audience.

This is not a review of the book. Instead, here are some quotes from the book.

  • Since people cannot read and listen well at the same time, displays filled with lots of text must be avoided. On the other hand multimedia that displays visual information can be processed while listening.
  • Communication is the transfer of emotion.
  • Make slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them. Create slides that demonstrate, with emotional proof, that what you’re saying is true, not just accurate.
  • No more than six words on a slide. EVER.
  • Don’t use cheesy images. Use professional stock photo images.
  • No dissolves, spins, or other transitions. Keep it simple.
  • Create a written document. A leave-behind.
  • Try getting away from the computer in the early stages [of preparing presentation] when your creativity is needed most.
  • If your audience remembers only one thing, what would it be?
  • Forget PowerPoint and statistics, to involve people at the deepest level you need to tell stories.
  • Good stories have interesting, clear beginnings; provocative, engaging content in the middle; and a clear conclusion.
  • Contrasts are compelling. We are hardwired to notice differences.
  • Push yourself to generate out-of-the-box ideas. Take the time and spend the creative energy because the payoff will be a presentation people not only remember, but one they take action on.
  • When in doubt, cut it out.
  • You have to believe in your message completely or no one else will. You must be in your story fully and be “lost in the moment” of engaging your audience.
  • A free yet structured spontaneity is exactly the kind of state we want to be in with the audience during a presentation.
  • If the intent is pure and the message clear, then that is all you can do.
  • We must be careful not to make the mistake of thinking that our data can speak for itself, no matter how convincing, obvious, or strong it may seem to us.
  • Engage audience: do you see that? Look here! This is amazing! What do you think happens next? Wasn’t that surprising?

More quotes:

  • The potential of your speech or presentation to change things goes far beyond just the words spoken.
  • Constraints are helpful, even inspiring as they challenge us to think differently and more creatively about a particular problem (pecha-kucha 20×20).
  • Sticky ideas have six key principles in common: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotions, and Stories [SUCCES].
  • In an era where information about seemingly anything is only a mouse click away, just processing information is hardly the differentiator it used to be. What is more important today than ever before is the ability to synthesize the facts and give them context and perspective.
  • Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler – Albert Einstein.
  • When I have received challenging questions from a skeptical or even hostile or aggressive person, a natural, nonaggressive response from myself always proves more effective than showing irritation or defensiveness.
  • The reason Steve Jobs’s presentations went so well and were so engaging was because he and his team prepared and practiced like mad to make sure it looked “easy”.
  • Once we think of a failure or success, we are like the swordsman whose mind stops, ever so briefly, to ponder his technique or the outcome of the fight. The moment he does, he has lost.
  • There is a line of thinking that says if I tell you the meaning of Zen, then it wouldn’t really be Zen.
  • It’s only through our formal education that we begin to doubt the “seriousness” of play. When this happens, we begin to lose a bit of ourselves, including our confidence and a bit of our humanity.
  • The more people know your idea, the more powerful it becomes.

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