Tag Archives: Presentation

BOOK REVIEW: resonate Combines Timeless Storytelling And Presentation

Two years ago, Nancy Duarte‘s book slide:ology proved to be a great resource for perfecting the visual aspects of presentation—it was well-designed, thorough and the visual material was striking. I didn’t expect anything less from one of the foremost experts on presentation. Nancy’s newest book, resonate, explores the engagement and storytelling aspects of presentation and has the same hallmarks of design and colorful writing set by slide:ology.

I’m a big advocate of stories and storytelling, not only in presentations but in communication in general. I actually have a “creative communications” presentation that I have given a few times. A good story is naturally more compelling and persuasive than just a collection of facts or bullets, and this clearly applies to presentations.

resonate brings strong evidence that a good story makes for a good presentation. There doesn’t seem to be as many case studies in this book as in slide:ology but philosophy from the likes of Joseph Campbell, Syd Field and Aristotle are used to illustrate the storytelling process. The jump from screenwriting and storytelling to presentation design and content is explained in detail and supported well by the case studies.

If there’s one complaint I have about resonate, it is that the art of storytelling is not covered enough in the book. Nancy covers a wide range of material and pages are spent on motivating audiences, improving presentations through practice, using presentations to change the world and not for “evil,” and other topics peripherally related to storytelling. I don’t think I can ding resonate for including these because they are important to the ultimate goal of presenting better, but I think there is more to be explained about the storytelling process and more techniques that could be explored.

resonate is another exceptional book from Nancy. I don’t know where she will go from here as an author—the two aspects of Duarte’s “VisualStory™” method already seem to be covered by slide:ology and resonate—but I hope there’s more aspects of presentation she is ready to write about. resonate was a real treat to read and review.

resonate
Nancy Duarte
Published by Wiley
US $29.95
Rating: 10/10

REVIEW: Two DVDs By New Riders

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

neumeier

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

presentationzen

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.

Conclusion

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!

Marty Neumeier’s Innovation Workshop
Click here for the preview on YouTube
Published by New Riders
US$34.99
Rating: 9/10

Presentation Zen: The Video
Click here for the preview on YouTube
Published by New Riders
US$29.99
Rating: 8/10