Do you wish your presentations could make a more meaningful impression on your audience? When you’re tasked with sharing your expertise with an audience, do you put a lot of time and energy into preparation, only to receive a lukewarm reaction from your listeners instead of the rousing response you hoped for?
If you’re seeking inspiration to liven up your presentations, Garr Reynolds’ iconic book, Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, is a go-to resource for speakers who want to disrupt the status quo and make things happen. First published in 2011, Reynolds’ insights are timeless and valuable for any presenter.
In fact, Reynolds’ classic, best-selling book is so interesting and useful that I recently picked it up again and found myself carrying it around so I could read a few pages in spare moments. I also just ordered the revised edition, where the author promises fresh examples to spark ideas and adds a whole new chapter for presenting on technical topics.
Stay tuned for a review of this second edition. In the meantime, below are some of Reynold’s secrets to transforming a ho-hum presentation into a memorable message that will resonate with your audience.
ZEN Ideas that Amplify Your Impact
Presentation Zen is powerful because it’s bursting with actionable ideas that you can use immediately to take your presentation to the next level. These are just a few of the straightforward tips and strategies that Reynolds shares for telling your story and building your impact:
- Develop Your Core: The most important step you can take in developing your presentation is to discover your core message. What is the one simple sentence that you want your audience to understand and remember?
- Stand Out: Remember, this is your opportunity to differentiate yourself! Rather than going along with the crowd, embrace what’s unique about you, your organization or your cause.
- Share Effectively: Get those distracting details out of your slides and use a handout instead.
- Less is More: Does it support your core message? If not, take it out.
- Let Them See You: Even when you are showing a video, keep the lights on. The power of your live talk is diminished when your audience can’t see you.
- Don’t Tell When You Can Show: Images are more powerful and memorable than words.
Speaking of “showing,” Reynolds does an excellent job of walking the walk as well as talking the talk. The book is packed with visual examples that illustrate the difference between great presentations and not-so-great ones.
The book’s key take-away lessons are summarized at the end of each chapter, exactly the way you should summarize your core message at the end of your talk to make it memorable. Reynolds even supports his points by incorporating thoughts and experiences from “guests” who lend their expertise, including marketing guru Seth Godin, slide:ology author Nancy Duarte and entrepreneur columnist Guy Kawasaki.
Ready to Become a Zen Master?
Reynolds’ book goes well beyond a few quick tips improve your PowerPoint slides. Presentation Zen shows you the way to truly transform your presentation dynamics and effectiveness. You’ll learn to:
- Express yourself in a whole new way
- Change your viewpoint to see the picture from your listeners’ perspective
- Be bold, be different, and be inspired for your next presentation
The only part of Presentation Zen that I still find a bit tiresome is the author’s analogies to Zen philosophy. I just skimmed over them, and if you can bear with him you’ll discover a wealth of useful and enlightening advice to help you master your next presentation opportunity.