A Must-Have for Your Bookshelf: presentationzen

By July 10, 2009April 26th, 2020Book Reviews, SpeakerNotes

Do you find most presentations mind-numbingly dull? … Do you want to break free from the status quo? … Do you wonder how you can leverage PowerPoint for maximum impact?

Presentation Zen Professionally SpeakingIf your hand is waving excitedly at one or all of these ideas, grab a copy of presentationzen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds.

Once my copy arrived, I couldn’t put it down. I carried it with me wherever I went so that I could read a few pages in spare moments. It’s that good and that fast a read.

Actionable ideas by the truckload

According to Reynolds, live talks today must tell a story enhanced by imagery and other forms of appropriate multimedia to make an impact. Here are some additional thoughts from presentationzen that resonated for me:

• Take time to discover your core message (the one thing, and only one, that you want your audience to remember, stated in one simple sentence)

• Relish the opportunity to differentiate yourself, your organization or your cause. Why be a clone when you can be your true unique self?

• Use detailed handouts to keep you from feeling compelled to cram everything into a slide.

• Less is more! Remove from slides any element that doesn’t add to your core message.

• Images are more powerful than words.

• Keep the lights on; the audience must always be able to see you

But wait, there’s more . . . (as the saying goes)

presentationzen is packed with visual examples of great (and not so great) presentations, allowing you to see the difference. Key take-a-ways are summarized at the end of each chapter, and guests – from marketing guru Seth Godin and slide:ology author Nancy Duarte to Entrepreneur columnist Guy Kawasaki – also share their thoughts and experiences.

Are you ready to get Zen?

If you’re looking for few quick tips on how to do a PowerPoint presentation, don’t look here. The author’s analogies to the Zen philosophy and concepts can get annoying pretty quickly (I just skimmed over them).

However, if you bear with him, you will learn more than how to break free from the “death by PowerPoint” mold. Get ready to express yourself in a new way, be challenged to see the big picture from your customers’ perspective, and be inspired to be bold, different, and enthused while preparing for your next presentation.

Becoming a Zen master may not be easy, but it can pay big dividends when you reset the “presentation bar” for yourself and your organization.

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Kara says:

    Thank you for the excellent post on Garr Reynolds.

    I work for Peachpit Press and thought you and your readers might be interested in knowing that he just released his first online streaming video, Presentation Zen: The Video, where he expands on the ideas presented in his book and blog. The DVD is now available for purchase as well. More info can be found here: