I just got done reading Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds and really liked it – I highly recommend it.
There are some great insights on how to plan and structure presentations and in general for how to present well.
Below are some of the most interesting insights / quotes I took from the book:
- Go analogue at first – get off the grid and plan things out on paper or a whiteboard. Don’t just dive straight into powerpoint
- Define your central message up front and stay focused on it
- You should be able to shorten your presentation to an elevator pitch (30-45 secs)
- There are 3 parts to a presentation – slides, your speaking notes and a handout document
- Providing handouts afterwards will allow you to focus on the high level points during the presentation and provide the detail afterwards
- Slides are slides, documents are documents – they aren’t the same thing
- Make your slides as visual as possible – pictures are remembered better than words
- Use as few words as possible
- Tell stories, evoke emotions
- Good designs have plenty of white space – think subtract, not add
- Simplicity is key – however finding the right balance is important
- Quotes can add credibility to your story
- Consider the rule of thirds when designing your slides
- Keep in mind the big four when designing slides – contrast, repetition, alignment and proximity
- The goal is not to make the slides look good – the goal is clarity
- Practicing and rehearsing is key to nailing a presentation
- You have to believe your message or no one will
- Like a conversation, presentation requires your full presence at the time and place
- Never go over time – try and come in under
- Have a simple hand remote to move slides along – looking down and using a computer breaks the flow
- Stand in front and talk – don’t hide to the side or behind a podium
- Do it and do it often – practice and seek opportunities to gain more experience – that’s how you get better
Here are some good before and after slides by Garr Reynolds – Sample slides by Garr Reynolds
Presentations and talking in public doesn’t come naturally to me and I’ve had to work on it quite a lot in the last year or so and I’m slowly getting better at it.
The biggest things that jumped out at me were upfront planning on paper, using images, keeping the slides simple and providing handouts afterwards. I’ll be trying to use these in future presentations.