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Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  14,262 ratings  ·  455 reviews
Presentation designer and internationally acclaimed communications expert Garr Reynolds, creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net — — shares his experience in a provocative mix of illumination, inspiration, education, and guidance that will change the way you think about making presentations with PowerPoint or ...more
Paperback, US/CAN/UK, 229 pages
Published 2008 by New Riders (first published 2007)
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Alexander Fontana
Apr 28, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: business
The six aptitudes are:
Design (not only function)
Story (not only argument - Mike Meyers type delivery)
Symphony (not only focus)
Empathy (not only logic)
Play (not only seriousness)
Meaning (not only accumulation)

How to improve immediately:
1. Make slides that reinforce your work not repeat them. -
2. Don't use cheesy images. Instead of four bullets on EPA pollution data just use a picture of dead birds and state the data
3. No dissolves, spins or o
Lance Greenfield
May 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lance by: tony greenfield
There are over four thousand reviews of this book on Goodreads, so it is unlikely that I can say anything fresh about the content and style of this superb book, so I am not about to try. I'll just tell you a little story of how it helped me at a most opportune time.

I have been presenting and instructing for well over three decades, and I am still learning something new every day. We should all be open to that and never believe that we have actually arrived at the perfect state. Strive for perfec
Josh Brown
Mar 28, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2009
I learned more about presentations from this book than I ever thought possible.

The audience is there to hear you speak, not to read your slides. You should be selling something to them - convincing them of something. If you're just giving them information, why didn't you just send them a document?

Give presentations like Steve Jobs, not Bill Gates. Bill Gates is unremarkable.

Keep the text on slides to a minimum - no more than six words on a slide.

Rather than embedding a small image in the slide,
Oct 15, 2010 rated it liked it
This was quite a good little book, if a bit over long. Which, in itself was quite amusing given that the main message is ‘keep it simple’. I think The Non-Designer's Presentation Book does a better job, but there were things in this one that really worked. His comparisons of cluttered and uncluttered slides on pages 123-125 ought to be enough to give people who spot this in a bookstore an idea of what needs fixing in their presentations.

But overall there is too much guff about things that don’t
Randy Ingermanson
May 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I was worried that this would be a breezy feel-good book without much content.

No worries. The book turned out to be brilliant. The examples were the most useful part. It's one thing to tell me how to do it. It's another to show me.

I've been doing presentations for a long time, and this book has lit a fire under me to do better. Looking forward to my next teaching gig to see how well it all works out for me.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was a re-read, had read most fragments from it some years ago, but it was still very good. Some things need refreshing and some I understood in a completely different way some years and many presentation later. I would recommend it with no hesitation to anybody working in communication, marketing or management.
Book dedicated to presentations and all things around them, from prototyping and story line to the selection of colors and backgrounds. Appreciate sample presentations included in the end of the book. Would love to find more about the process of writing / selecting stories but probably it is a subject for a separate book.
Manuel Antão
Sep 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Gnawing on My Own Wrist: "Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery" by Garr Reynolds

PowerPoint has always enabled people who are basically thick and dull to look clever.

Of course it’s boring - would you hold up cue cards to an audience and then READ THE SAME CUE CARDS - no? So why does a digital projector and PowerPoint make it a good idea?

But PowerPoint is worse than that - with PowerPoint you can put a buzzw
Apr 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: pastors, speakers, designers, marketing, EXECUTIVES
Less is more.

Use full screen imagery to convey your point.

Use pleasing color schemes.

Use san-serif fonts.

Those four sentences sum up what Presentation Zen is all about. I know some may say I don't get it. I do. I just don't think all the zen info helped. The author really didn't need to use them to prove his point. Just the comparison of slides was enough.

However, this book did change the way I present my messages and talks to teens as a youth pastor. I believe it is true that people remember mo
Sep 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
I like the idea that slideware is a sufficiently developed form that there's an ecosystem of tools made to make one suck less at its usage. This book dips a toe in the water of improving ones tool usage but there are several things that get in the way.

1) Walls of Text - Many of the words are wasted and several times I'd find that I'd skipped a paragraph, reread it and gain nothing.

2) References to Asian Culture - Many of these asides simply got in the way. I got the constant feeling of "this is
Jul 25, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: presentation
This book summarize the key elements of a presentation in a different way from the "craft of scientific presentation". However, many of the principles are overlapped. I find this book one of the must read for presentation along with "the craft of scientific presentation" and "slide:ology".

Chapter 1 Introduction
Presentations in Today’s World

Decoration, for better or worse, is noticeable -- sometimes enjoyable, sometimes irritating, but it is unmistakable there. However, the best designs ar
Lori Palen
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: work
The Preparation and Design sections were great; the Delivery section felt generic and flat. The Zen angle was often soothing or interesting but sometimes felt froo-froo.
Jun 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Not the most current but the underlying fundamentals are strong and still apply. Present better and for god’s sake don’t read your slides at me.
Sep 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Megan by: Shirley
This Friday I'm heading a workshop for 11 librarians in the county, on how to use social media. I am a little bit nervous about this, not because of going up in front of a group of people (I have little fear of this, which is really surprising), but because I'm afraid I won't be able to get my point across, speak loudly enough, or be clear enough for people unfamiliar with new technology. I had written up a standard PowerPoint with bullet points, clipart, and gradient backgrounds, and it all fel ...more
Jul 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
For its purpose, this book can't get much better than it is. Garr Reyolds uses plenty of gorgeous photos and example slides to show you how to make a better slide show presentation. But it's more than that. There are touches of self-help -- bits of advice that have as much to do with making yourself a better person as they do with making yourself a better presenter. There are touches of how-to -- tracts that show you where you've gone wrong in the past and why you are on the "Most Wanted List" i ...more
John Mangan
Jan 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
After reading this book you'll realize why 99% of presentations you have ever seen have been done all wrong, and it all makes perfect sense. You'll also realize how applications such as "PowerPoint" are misunderstood and misused in most business environments today.

Finally, in retrospect you can easily compare the tips for success in this book with very famous and high impact presentations such as those given by Steve Jobs and other industry leaders.
Andrew Neuendorf
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I want to throw everything else away and shave my head and follow the teachings of this book and tattoo my favorite PowerPoint slide on my face, which would be a single brush stroke on a white background, arcing like a swan's neck. (My body is the white background...I am white) ...more
Apr 18, 2011 marked it as to-read
Loved the book - I still don't always do as he says (I still use the cursed bullet points too much :-)), but it affected how I present and speak. ...more
Mar 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2018
Some notes to make you better Presenter and public speaker(facing the audience is establishing good eye contact)...
Patrice Blanchard
Jul 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting approach of presentation comparing the good the bad and the ugly realisations of Presentations. Very useful.
Interesting comparison with jazz.
Jamey Badger
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great suggestions for improving presentations. More applicable to business than education.
Omar Halabieh
Jan 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
Below are key excerpts from the book that I found particularly insightful:

1- "If we desire to communicate with more clarity, integrity, beauty, and intelligence, then we must move beyond what is considered to be "normal" to something different and far more effective. The principles I am most mindful of through every step of the presentation process are restraint, simplicity, and naturalness: Restraint in preparation. Simplicity in design. Naturalness in delivery. All of which, in the end, lead t
Adrian Luben
Aug 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
very good place to start in order to perfect your presentation skills..
Sang Tran
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Bruce Genaro
Apr 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
PresentationZen Design by Garr Reynolds is a graphic design book for non-designers who want to create more effective multi-media presentations. As Reynolds states, “We know what we like when we see it, but we lack the visual literacy to articulate our thoughts…” So he provides a nomenclature and a way to organize your thoughts when communicating with words and images. In addition to a crash course on the principles of good design, he helps you clarify your content and make it more meaningful.
Stephanie Scotti
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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?

If 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.

Krishna Kumar
Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Reynolds wants to write about good PowerPoint presentation, and he does a very good job at it. He explains the poor ways in which business people (including Bill Gates) currently use PowerPoint, and how much better it can be, citing the example of Steve Jobs, among others. He shows us some very good examples of PowerPoint presentations that he and other people (independently) have prepared. The book also contains examples of poor slides and how they can be improved. Reynolds draws upon the knowl ...more
Mindaugas Mozūras
Jan 23, 2018 rated it liked it
"Restraint in preparation. Simplicity in design. Naturalness in delivery."

I liked Prezentation Zen. I won't rate it higher because I've read most of the advice given here in other places (, Confessions of a Public Speaker, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking). I still found some new specific tricks/ideas. For example, the author goes into detail about lecterns and the idea that by blocking the speaker, they decrease engagement. It also
Apr 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
About 60% of the material in the book was familiar to me, and by now, should be a common sense. No, you shouldn't put an insanely huge amount of text on your slides and make people read it while you talk about something else. No, popular art and generic images are not fun. And so on...

What I really enjoyed reading this book is the Japanese/Zen component. The author explains several Japanese concepts that relate to visual design (ikebana, etc.) and shows how they can be applied to PowerPoint pre
Sep 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Entertaining conversations on design and aesthetics but lacking in practical application. I felt rather unimpressed after reading many positive reviews and recently finishing the excellent Storytelling with Data: A Data Visualization Guide for Business Professionals.

In short, I'd recommend this book to beginners on design, aesthetics, and presentation. To readers with some background experience, you are unlikely to find radically new ideas here.
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