I rarely review DVDs, but two came to my attention: Marty Neumeier’s Innovation Workshop, that explores business transformations powered by innovative cultures, and Presentation Zen: The Video, that explores a holistic approach to presentation and communication. Both advocate high-level approaches to business elements too many people don’t think carefully about, and they both make for interesting viewing material.
Innovation Workshop: Beautifully produced
I really enjoyed watching Innovation Workshop. I have a fairly keen marketing savvy (as I think most graphic designers do) and it was enlightening to sit down for 45 minutes and learn about the finer points of branding, innovative culture and creating change with design. These are all topics that designers as well as marketing professionals can relate to. The DVD is designed to teach: several hands-on exercises help drive the points home and there’s an iPod version of the DVD on the disk for mobile viewing.
I was also struck by the production quality of Innovation Workshop: it’s slick yet understated like an art-house film, well-rehearsed and cleanly edited. Marty’s delivery is very good and his diagrams (marker on glass) are clear. I appreciate a marketing professional who knows how to use graphics well. The one thing that would make Innovation Workshop even better is to include one of Marty’s well-regarded books—and I hear that New Riders will be doing just that with the upcoming Marty Neumeier’s Innovation Toolkit. The DVD alone is still a good buy at just US$34.99.
Presentation Zen: Meditation needs focus
Presentation Zen is another good DVD that delivers a philosophy of zen applicable to business presentations and much more. His style, influenced by Japanese ideals, is one of simplicity, inquisitiveness, balance and immersing oneself in the moment. This can be a transformative discipline to those searching for change, and it will be familiar to those who know other Eastern philosophies such as tao or zen buddhism.
However, I think Garr Reynolds fails to focus enough of his energy specifically on the improvement of business communications. “Presenation Zen” is a philosophy applicable to many facets of life and business, but too little of the DVD focuses specifically on presentation. For a more focused resource on presentations, Nancy Duarte’s slide:logy is ideal (here’s my review of that book). Perhaps I would be more forgiving of Presentation Zen: The Video if I had read its sister book, Presentation Zen, but the DVD stands alone as a revealing of Garr’s philosophy of life—and presentation, among many other things. This DVD will improve the thought processes behind every great presentation, but it won’t necessarily teach you how to communicate best with PowerPoint or get through a speech without getting nervous. Garr himself says right at the beginning that he is not teaching a “method,” but an “approach.” I would have liked to have seen both, though the approach alone is worth watching.
Both DVDs are good buys and both focus on high-level thinking about business communications and innovation. I prefer Innovation Workshop but Presentation Zen offers a unique perspective on communication and life in general. Thanks to YouTube, you don’t have to take my word for it—watch the previews below!