Book Review: Presentation Zen

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Reynolds, Garr. Presentation Zen : simple ideas on presentation design and delivery. New Riders Pub., 2012.

At a conference earlier this month, I gave my first presentation in the Pecha Kucha method.  Pecha Kucha means “chatter” in Japanese and under this method, the presenter uses 20 slides, each shown for 20 seconds each.  The slides advance automatically and when the last one ends, the presentation is finished.

Pecha Kucha is only a sidebar in the book Presentation Zen by communications expert Garr Reynolds, who advocates the use of Zen principles of restraint, simplicity and naturalness when making and delivering presentations.  Author Reynolds encourages people to rethink their approach from the beginning, using creativity, clarity and time away from the computer when deciding on the main points to make.  He encourages the use of stories to emotionally connect with the audience.   And he recommends returning often to the core message.

In design, Reynolds advises his readers to create simple Powerpoint or Keynote slides with few words and no bullet points.  As the presenter speaks, the slides serve a supporting role with a balance of images and data that amplify the verbal message and improve the recall of key information by the audience.  Reynolds includes a host of examples of presentation slides, both good and bad.  The book ends with a section on delivery, connecting with the audience.

Recommended for all presenters who want to engage the audience in a meaningful way.  I will definitely incorporate Zen in my next PowerPoint.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
All rights reserved.

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