Presentation zen by Garr Reynolds
Presentation zen is a book that combines strong principles of design with the Zen culture, encouraging you to be more creative about the presentations.
When I first start to think about improving my presentation skills, I found great reviews about this book.
Then I asked people from this field about it and I heard only satisfying opinions. So I booked it from Amazon.com and in two weeks was mine. It captured me from the first night that I started to read it. Maybe I am judgmental, because of the first pages where the author is speaking about his Japan experience. That brought back memories of my beautiful leaving in Japan, not long time ago.
Garr Reynolds is a leading authority on presentation design and delivery. Once you read Presentation zen, he changes the way you think a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation should look like.
The book is more than a business presentation training, it follows a straight path, not too cluttered, no terms difficult to understand, made from five parts.
The first part is the introduction where he's speaking about how presentations are made nowadays: the traditional slides full of bullet points, paragraphs of text and small images with no meaning.
Here's where you will understand the presentation zen approach and find 2 pages of Seth Godin (the author of Meatball Sundae, which I also read) speaking about presentations and giving some examples of slides, just like you are taking part of a presentation skill seminar.
The second part is about the way you are preparing for the day when you will be in front of your audience. You will hear more about creativity and how you have to think for having a pleasant work. Once you are mentally prepared you will be able to start the work and follow the steps. After you are done with the brainstorming and the ideas are in front of you on sketches, you will start to think of translating them in PowerPoint or Keynote, following some steps. You learn here how to bring up messages that stick for capturing your audience.
The third part is my favorite, it's about design.
He's giving Steve Jobs's presentations as great examples of simplicity and effective use of empty space.
I've learned a lot from his examples of how a traditional slide is looking like and how you can eliminate irrelevant details and transform it into a simple slide without losing informations.
From the fourth part I know how you have to deliver your presentation by connecting with the audience without losing your point on the way. It's like going to presentation skills classes that take one hour.
The last part it's like a call-to-action, to make you feel ready and good enough for this job.
I think I will never be good enough for making a great presentation. But reading Presentation zen and some other hand-in-hand books I can get at least a right idea of what presentations really are.
Try also presentation zen.com - the most popular web site on presentation design.