Book review: Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds

As part of my quest of becoming better at public speaking, I recently finished reading Presentation Zen. The first striking thing about the book is how beautifully designed it is all along (probably another one that wouldn't work well on an e-reader), which of course highlights the principles the book aims to impart.

The structure flows well, and every chapter contains lots of tips and clear steps to look at when preparing a presentation. Often a chapter will offer some background on why something work, or why you should try to get away from the traditional (and boring) way of doing presentations. Also why it might be difficult to do so, depending on the culture you live in.

The book is nowhere only about slides, but in the chapters about designing and preparing them I really enjoyed that there were so many examples, including "before" (traditional) and "after" (following the presentation zen principles). Mostly what the book really describes is a general attitude one should develop with regard to presenting, preparing for a presentation and respecting your audience.

It's an absolutely fantastic read if you want to get better at presenting and generally get away from being boring and hampered by bullet points, but you don't know where to start.

I'm trying these new principles now for my Sugar talk. I think it definitely improved my preparation, by helping me think more about flow and using slides to support what I say rather than as a crutch. When it comes to being able to deliver the talk though, it'll be another story. We'll see!


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