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Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations that Inform, Motivate, and Inspire
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Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations that Inform, Motivate, and Inspire

3.68  ·  Rating details ·  637 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Unload those boring, bullet-riddled slides—and unlock the amazing story buried in your presentation! In BEYOND BULLET POINTS, communications expert Cliff Atkinson shares his innovative three-step system for increasing the impact of your communications with Microsoft PowerPoint. He guides you, step by step, as you discover how to combine the tenets of classic storytelling w ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 2nd 2005 by Microsoft Press (first published February 23rd 2005)
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Average rating 3.68  · 
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 ·  637 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Feb 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who has to present material to an audience
This book changed my life.

Okay. That was dramatic. But it's changed the way I look at presenting material before an audience, which is becoming an increasingly important part of my professional life.

When it comes to lectures, I tend to be a snob and a luddite. I don't need the bells and whistles, I would say, and neither should you. It should be about the information, not about fancy slides and visual effects. Then I gave a presentation that I'd worked hard on which was chock-full o
Apr 23, 2008 added it
Don't understand what others see in it: I was disappointed having bought this book based on good reviews, so here's my review:

1. The author provides just one tool for one particular type of presentation: "pitch an idea to your bosses". The tool is a 3-act presentation using few words and more graphics and presenter narration.
Although a good tool for some presenters and some presentations, I can only see myself using this in 10-20% of my presentations.

2. Because the author refuses to explore
Sebah Al-Ali
يعرض طريقة مفيدة لعرض الباوربوينت بشكل "يضمن" وصول الفكرة للمشاهد بشكل أفضل و أرتب.
وجدته طريفا أن الكتاب يشير لفكرة الـ 3 نقاط التي يستخدمها جوبز في عروضه.

-Try to relate information on your presentation to the audience's previous knowledge.
-Use different backgrounds and designs for each slide
-The headline of the slide should sum the main point clearly, just like newspapers' headlines
-Prepare a written script for your powerpoint before starting it
-Graphics on your
Steve Whiting
There are some really good ideas in the book, but..... for a book focused on the importance of simple slides, headlines, getting the point across etc, it takes the author an incredible amount of time to get to the point, and is very repetitive.

There are a number of other annoyances with the book (here presented as bullet points in conscious irony):

* I know it's a Microsoft book, but is it *really* necessary to spell out the Microsoft product names in full in every chapter
Sep 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent for learning basic storyboarding and how to develop slides that aid the speaker. I found it lacking in translating complex legal arguments into PowerPoint, but that’s a fairly niche topic.
Adrian Buck
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Surprised to read a book on PowerPoint, published by Microsoft that runs so against the grain of the development of the software. One would think that the 'beyond' would be about ditching bullet points and adding evermore dazzling animation and graphical features to your presentation. Not so; the book should be more properly titled 'Before Bulletpoints'. Instead Atkinson recommends serious preparation as an antidote to death by PowerPoint, arguing that "people's urges to add extraneous detail ar ...more
Jul 27, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Over the last 6 months (and, I guess, really it started about a year ago), my work life has become a lot of creating decks and then presenting them to people. I actually really like these kinds of presentations. They are useful tools for honing in on themes and concepts and move away from minutiae and edge cases. They are conversation starters as well as keep those chats on track. As I transition from being a Producer/Team Manager to a Product Manager, my entire job has become communication and ...more
Jul 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson adopts a holistic approach to making presentations using PowerPoint as a framework. This is a focussed and well considered presentation in itself looking to the psychological factors that impact on the effectiveness of communication considering the key message and the apparatus that will support optimal uptake by your audience. In its 3rd edition, Atkinson’s book is engaging without being overwhelming and walks the a reader through a feel supported approach ...more
Sep 01, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: tutorial
Some of the general ideas in this book are solid but I really, really didn't like how it is based on an extended tutorial. By using this template he gives, it restricts thinking abstractly about how to apply this to your own presentations. I don't like books that constrain your thinking this much. He takes an approach many programming tutorial books might takes which is not helpful when dealing with presentations. Coding is a very structured process whereas there are many different presentation ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: practical
I have no idea why self proclaimed presentation specialists are unable to present anything. And this is one of the best books around. The author wants you to make five slides than do whatever you please. Nice. Clean. Why so many pages?

The Setting Headline Where am I, and when is it?
The Role Headline Who am I in this setting?
The Point A Headline What challenge do I face in this setting?
The Point B Headline Where do I want to be? (The gap between the Point A and B hea
Paul Signorelli
Cliff Atkinson’s visual approach to PowerPoint slide presentations has become a virtual industry centered around this second edition of his book; his Beyond Bullet Points web site ( with a blog, free templates, and links to updated material; and plenty of samples being created and posted online by those who have learned what he is teaching. Showing readers how to avoid slides which are text-laden and full of bullet-point items read to ...more
May 31, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Atkinson lays out a concrete series of tasks I wish everyone who is asked to give a talk would study in earnest. Beyond explaining how to use one of the most poorly used presentation packages in office environments, he relates to the reader some basic principles of story telling. He shares some insights brought about by current cognitive science research. Best of all, he lays out a plan for preparing for a talk that will allow the experience to be more enjoyable for the speaker and the audience.
Keith Martin
A book somewhere between this one and Garr Reynolds' Presentation Zen would be ideal. Atkinson thrashes in unnecessary detail and doesn't push toward any real elegance of visual design, but he does a more thorough job than Reynolds of explaining the cognitive load of viewing a presentation and ways that the presenter can mitigate it. I got a lot more out of Reynolds' book, and found it easier to absorb. Perhaps Atkinson should have worked a bit harder to apply his PowerPoint lessons to his own b ...more
Max Anderson
While there are a lot of good ideas in this book, I was also looking for something about how to take slides that have gobs and gobs of content (think medical school and images of circulation systems and label after label after label). This also seems to be more for presentations like at conferences than for using it to teach a class, though sometimes my question to faculty is 'do you NEED to use PowerPoint to get your point across?'
Tom Gromak
Jun 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like that brain-based research went into the suggestions presented in this book. It often goes against conventional wisdom, but makes a lot of sense.

As someone who makes a lot of presentations and teaches students how to present their own ideas, I found this book invaluable.

It's a Microsoft Press book, and so everything is based on PowerPoint (which is why it loses a star), but it's extremely easy to adapt everything to the presentation package of your choice.
Brian Jackson
Feb 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great step by step instruction to creating meaningful and relevant presentations.
Oct 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who presents information
After sitting though many abusive Power Point presentations, I got to thinking there's got to be a better way and began doing research...Atkinson's approach is refreshing and his challenge to use PP as a story telling tool rather than a bludgeon is compelling.

It's easy to get frustrated and think, "there's no way I can do all this..." But sticking with him and looking at the bigger picture, readers can find ways that they can make any presentation better.
Joshua Smith
Mar 24, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't actually read this book. I bought it at the same time I got Reynold's "Presentation Zen" and Weinschenk's "100 things Every Presenter Needs to Know About People." After reading those two books, I opened "Beyond" and it seemed like this book was an extended instruction manual for how to use MS PowerPoint.

I was hoping for a book describing a theory of presentations. I do not need a manual for a particular software package.
Jul 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This book completely changed how I design presentations. It's a sure-fire cure for "Death by PowerPoint", and instead lets you use the tool for what it's really designed for - a visual medium that complements the message of the speaker with dramatic and relevant images. It also had me think about when PowerPoint really wasn't the right tool for the job. A must read for anyone who presents to any audience.
Dewey Norton
Apr 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Enables presenters to move from the Neanderthal era to state of the art. The big idea is that a presentation should follow Artistotle's concept of a plot, or a Hollywood production in order to engage the audience. Very detailed instructions and templates are provided. Curious that he makes no mention of Edward Tufte's incisive critique of PowerPoint. Highly recommend. Gift from Weston.
Aug 09, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who uses Power Point or wants to improve their Communication Skills
If you use Power Point to present, I would recommend this book along with Presentation Zen, and a search for Lawrence Lessig and Dick Hardt. This book led me to open up my thinking about how to use Power Point as a valuable and creative tool, rather than as a canned product, for presenting to clients, staff and anyone.
Dana Kraft
Aug 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: nonfiction, business
Two thumbs down. It should tell you everything that this book is published by Microsoft. It basically tries to tell you how you can use more Powerpoint and Office tools to make your presenations more effective. Fair enough, but it's not for a lack of tools that presentations are generally so coma-inducing. Gene Zelazny's "Say It With Presentations" way better.
Jan 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
It's not perfect, but it does give you a new frame work for looking at PowerPoint presentations, and we all really need that. The trouble comes in trying to execute this model across your organization.

You need buy from the top for this kind of radical change to PowerPoint presentations, and most organizations simply won't hand over that mandate.
Oct 03, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are better books about slide design. But he presents a very useful system for crafting your story. It is great in conjuction with Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds or Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte.
June Ding
Jun 18, 2014 rated it liked it
Well the title suggests that it is about microsoft power point so i should't be disappointed that there is too much details on using the tool. Maybe useful for new users. Not a whole lot new concepts. But at least i got reminded to make a statement on the slide rather than a phrase..
Feb 26, 2008 rated it liked it
The book sort of assumes you're an idiot and teaches you how to create an effective PowerPoint presentation from scratch. Writing often succumbs to the "three point adjective" syndrome. But I did gain a lot of pointers from reading. I would recommend to anyone who needs to create presentations.
Jan 25, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's repetitive and focused only in MS Power Point. Still it introduces some very good ideas that one can apply to any kind of presentation.

I liked the idea of scalable presentations, how to build presentations that could be used for 5, 15 or 45 min talks
Meh...Maybe if all I did was write PowerPoint presentations for a living, I would want to read this book. I was really just looking for a "Here are some great example presentations that you can try to emulate" book.
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
The book teaches how to use reason, emotions and logic in your presentations. It proposes a structure based on film-making analogies.

However, the general philosophy was usable for me mostly. A big part of the book seemed inapplicable. It is worth reading though.
Andy Mitchell
Jul 15, 2016 rated it it was ok
I found this book dated. Presentation Zen is a better alternative.
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