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slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations

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No matter where you are on the organizational ladder, the odds are high that you've delivered a high-stakes presentation to your peers, your boss, your customers, or the general public. Presentation software is one of the few tools that requires professionals to think visually on an almost daily basis. But unlike verbal skills, effective visual expression is not easy, natural, or actively taught in schools or business training programs. slide:ology fills that void.

Written by Nancy Duarte, President and CEO of Duarte Design, the firm that created the presentation for Al Gore's Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth, this book is full of practical approaches to visual story development that can be applied by anyone. The book combines conceptual thinking and inspirational design, with insightful case studies from the world's leading brands. With slide:ology you'll learn to:

Connect with specific audiences
Turn ideas into informative graphics
Use sketching and diagramming techniques effectively
Create graphics that enable audiences to process information easily
Develop truly influential presentations
Utilize presentation technology to your advantage
Millions of presentations and billions of slides have been produced -- and most of them miss the mark. slide:ology will challenge your traditional approach to creating slides by teaching you how to be a visual thinker. And it will help your career by creating momentum for your cause.
--back cover

296 pages, Paperback

First published August 5, 2008

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About the author

Nancy Duarte

24 books341 followers
Nancy Duarte is an American writer and CEO of Duarte, Inc., a communications firm in the Silicon Valley. She is a presentation specialist whose client list includes most Fortune 500 companies.

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5 stars
2,837 (41%)
4 stars
2,319 (33%)
3 stars
1,220 (17%)
2 stars
350 (5%)
1 star
131 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 241 reviews
Profile Image for Matt.
163 reviews
June 8, 2010
This book was slightly disappointing. Any learner has to walk the line between theory and application. Theory is essential or one often won't understand the nuances of implementation and application. I had hoped this book would help me make better slide presentations. What I need is practical application that will improve the way I present information in PowerPoint, the heroin of the corporate world. This hated but desperately desired form of communication is ubiquitous.
I found this book to contain examples that were more focused on executives presenting to public audiences and marketers. I'm guessing that is about .2% or less of all slide shows created by the white collar drones like me, who spend their professional lives in dusty cubicle farms, basking under the fluorescent light of the information age. Our jobs primarily require us to create and communicate ideas, the best of which survive a nasty corporate gauntlet to become embodied in the design and code of computer systems or in the manual processes blindly followed by hordes of workers.
Anyone who's ever cared to paint a room in their house has gotten enough color wheel exposure from standing at the paint chip display at Lowe's, so I don't need another chapter dedicated to it in this book.
Following the before and after examples in this book would get me fired. Now the author might say that THAT is the very problem her firm is trying to address. If that is the case then book is a valiant attempt. Nevertheless, many of us need baby steps. Milk before meat.
Profile Image for Aaron.
5 reviews3 followers
November 20, 2014
Does stock photography inspire you? Do you feel a deep need for a book filled with endless case studies of 'business winners'? Do you aspire to win the acceptance of MBAs that dress for success?

Slide: ology is the book for you. Please don't breed.
Profile Image for Deanna.
928 reviews52 followers
October 20, 2018
Using just some of the tips in this book, my most recent present was noticeably improved. I’ll be returning to this a lot.
Profile Image for Ahmad hosseini.
271 reviews65 followers
January 30, 2018
“To succeed as a presenter, you must think like a designer”

A quick and very insightful read for anyone who needs to communicate concepts and stories effectively.
This book covers how to create ideas, translate them into pictures, display them well, and present them in your own natural way.
Book covers everything you need to know about making slides - from presentation concepts, fonts and colors, images, and video.
I recommend this book to everyone!
Profile Image for Murray Irwin.
Author 3 books1 follower
June 27, 2012
This is a great book for presenters on how to design a great slide show to go along with your presentation. Be warned, this is not a book that shows you how to use presentation software like keynote or powerpoint. It is a design focused book on how to tell your story and present your information visually in a way that is effective.

The twelve chapters covers creating a new ideology, creating ideas, creating diagrams, displaying data, thinking like a designer, arranging elements, visual elements, images, creating movement, templates, interacting with slides and finally the manifesto (5 steps). It covers all the major components from knowing your audience, brainstorming ideas through to grids, diagram concepts, colour choice, contrast, flow, space, font choices and proximity.

This book is aimed at those who have little design experience. It will not turn you into a designer overnight but it does help you understand what you should know. And things to avoid. Each idea is usually discussed over a two page spread with lots of illustrations and diagrams to help get the message across and show by example. Many of the topics covered require a whole book on their own to fully appreciate and understand. If you are chasing in depth coverage you might be better off completing a design course or buying books on topics of interest.

For those of us that want some practical advise on how to improve our presentation slides this does the job. I found it helpful in identifying what not to do as well as what to do. Being busy I did not want to have to read a arrange of books that discussed individual design concepts in great detail, I just wanted to get an overall understanding for what I needed to be paying attention too. This book help me address this through it short summaries of key idea’s. I highly recommend this book for anyone designing or doing presentations who does not have a background or flare for design.
Profile Image for David.
96 reviews13 followers
January 25, 2010
I've recently picked up a couple of books on presentation creation and public speaking. In my opinion, there's always room for improvement here - for everyone.

This book piqued my interest as the author's company designed Al Gore's presentation in An Inconvenient Truth.

The author managed to distill many of the key tenets of great presentations - a lot that I innately knew from my line of work, but embarrassingly don't practice enough. There's a lot of, dare I say, best practices in here.

Now, there are a lot of different types of presentations - and this book really didn't highlight the kind that I most often find myself in: sales pitches. So, there's a bit of connecting of the dots that needed to be done.

As a lot of this book went over design 101, it seems that it was geared towards non-creative individuals. Which makes sense, as everyone and their brother finds themselves needing to give a PowerPoint presentation. But for me, more than half the book was wasted there.

For that reason I'd have a hard time recommending this to my peers. It is something however that I would recommend to my clients - who probably spend more time in PowerPoint than they'd like.

Profile Image for Dave.
524 reviews13 followers
July 18, 2014
I looked at this one from 2 perspectives: professional and gateway. In other words, is it worth reading for someone already familiar with basic design principles that's interested in taking things to the next level, and is accessible for neophytes who feel like there's something wrong in the presentation world and they just want to know what it is.

This book leans towards the professional, although the middle chapters on arrangement and visual elements are great, and I'm considering using them to teach my students. The examples are coded in a way that makes them meaningful mostly to well-established professionals, so it's not a book that will stand alone as a text for new folks, though.

Smartly written and designed with great examples.
Profile Image for Themistocles.
388 reviews14 followers
January 8, 2009
Unfortunately, not nearly as good as I expected it to be. It's great, I suppose, if you have no idea about presentations and no real sense of aesthetics or practicality, but if you have some experience then this will be of little use, offering few really useful tips.

Great layout, shame about the content.
Profile Image for Tamara.
1,414 reviews557 followers
January 29, 2009
Not nearly as helpful as I had hoped. I wanted lots of examples, but instead they did "case studies" on people instead of presentations, such as Al Gore's use of PPT for An Inconvenient Truth. The rest was rhetoric.

The main point, which I know is my greatest weakness, is brevity, and using PPT as an aid to your presentation.
Profile Image for Reid.
139 reviews6 followers
June 30, 2010
Maybe it's just the deluge of other presentation books I've tackled over the last year, but it doesn't seem like Duarte adds anything new to that conversation. This book looks great, no question, with lots of great examples of pretty slides. Still, there isn't much substance behind the great design. The best section, hands down, is the 12-page layout of all the different conceptual diagrams that are illustrated. I read a review on Amazon that I thought was pretty snarky at first, but now seems pretty apt. It went something along the lines of: the book actually says "Hi, I'm a great slide designer and I'm going to show you why.", when it should say "Hi, I'm a great slide designer and I'm going to show you how."
Profile Image for Jen.
806 reviews
April 15, 2021
This was a very thorough book on presentations. I like how it was laid out. There was a great deal of up front description with terms, with how to approach things, with their philosophy and then a lot of examples and case studies. I really appreciated those. I'm not designing these for large, keynote presentations and much of the book seemed to be more in that vein but the concepts were largely applicable across. I liked the design focus and the very tangible "Do's" and "Don'ts" and here's when you might want to break the rules. I think I would go and find this book again if I were to do a big presentation and actually use it as a reference book, hence the 4 star.
72 reviews
August 27, 2020
Great book about presentation design. Everything you need to know about creating better presentations.
This book discusses some topics of organization, style, and colors in presentations.
If a presentation has too much text, numbers and figures, a report is often a better format than slideshow.
Profile Image for Dartsya.
199 reviews15 followers
December 12, 2017
Емкая и динамичная книга "для чайников" о том, как создавать презентации. С одной стороны, всё уже знаешь. С другой, всё знаешь благодаря собственным шишкам и изобретению велосипеда. Можно было прочитать и не париться:)
С третьей - когда начинаешь всё это читать, просто ужасаешься! Неужели так реально создают презентации? Ответ - да, но это на самом деле интуитивный процесс:))
Profile Image for James.
781 reviews26 followers
March 9, 2015
I like this book a lot. As it says in the subtitle, it explains "the art and science of creating great presentations" in a clear and simple way. The text is direct and engaging, sometimes employs a little humour, and the use of case studies, showing principles in action, is an inspired touch that adds an extra dimension to what would otherwise be a well-written, but theoretical text.

Some of the reviews have been disparaging, as if the ideas shown here are somehow "obvious", or this book offers "nothing new". Well, they may be like that to some people, but sit through almost any business presentation, and it's clear that the vast majority of presenters haven't got a clue. This book is not for people who already know how to do it. It's for people who want to improve. As I teach presentation skills professionally, I bought it as both reference and professional development - I knew a lot of it already, but as I am self-taught, and have never attended an art or design class, I also learned a lot. And although it focuses on slides, that's not all it looks at - there are many other aspects of presentations discussed that make it a far more rounded text. Ms Duarte reminds her readers again and again that a presentation is much more than just the slides.

There was only one thing that grated: some of the before-and-after sample slides were very small, written in a miniscule font that was nearly impossible to read, so it was hard to see how the information had been redistributed across the slides in the more improved presentations. Since there was plenty of space on each page, there was no clear reason why they had to be this tiny, and it went against the principle that was clearly espoused for presentations: make the font large and fully legible to your audience! So for this, I have deducted one star from my rating.

Otherwise, this book is excellent, and I would recommend it to anybody who wants to improve their presentations.
Profile Image for Aaron Bolin.
Author 1 book9 followers
June 11, 2012
slide:ology is designed as a reasonably comprehensive how-to guide on creating compelling visual material for presentations, promotional materials, and stories. The book is an easy read and visually very appealing. With a list price of $34.99, I found the book to be a very affordable introduction to the world of the graphic designer.

I bought the book at a time when I was struggling to depict a very technically complex manpower planning system in a way that was intuitively understandable. As I worked through the illustrated 260 page volume, I found myself nodding my head throughout. That is, Duarte's expertise shines through as she provides a very good basic structure for presentation design. This book was useful to me in my work; I incorporated some of her recommendations into the presentation that I was building.

From a critical perspective, I can't say that much of the material is original or unique to this volume. I've seen many of the principles described here in other works. Duarte also has a slight tendency to pad the prentations: saying in 5 pages and 20 pictures what could be said in a few sentences. Even with these limitations, Duarte's collection and organization of existing materials (with some original material sprinkled in), her easy-reading delivery, and her very strong visuals make this book a worthwhile read.
Profile Image for Jay French.
2,041 reviews74 followers
September 25, 2011
A nicely presented book on creating and giving presentations. I read this book because a former employer used the services of Duarte for building presentations. But at my level, a person presenting technical details to customers, I don't recall seeing much from the book bubble down, besides perhaps some new templates and icons. This book is focused on high-level executive/big picture presentations, where defining new concepts, or defining known concepts in new ways, is important. Also covered in depth are basic design for slides, concepts like color choice, layout, use of images... While these concepts can prove to be useful, I'd say that covers about half the book, with the other half aimed at presenters with different needs then I have. I will keep this one around for reference, though, and because it does give many examples of interesting slides.
Profile Image for Robert.
3 reviews7 followers
May 12, 2010
Succinct pictorial discoursed on what you should not do—and more importantly what you should do—with your presentation slides.

The book does a good job showing the users a vast array of different styles of presentation, and assures the user that it is not only ok, but important to have your own style.

Appropriate use of animation for slide transitions is discussed.

How/when to use bullets was discussed. Currently, most people over-use them leading to the opposite of the attended effect of a bulleted list being acheived (google "Death By Powerpoint"). Use of images instead of text is stressed throughout.

Encourages you to rehearse and solicit feedback on your presentation before actually giving it.

A tiny gem. Highly reccomended.
Profile Image for Lydia.
313 reviews8 followers
June 3, 2016
Working with PowerPoint on a regular basis, I've read quite a lot of dull rules about words per slide, slides per presentation, how many seconds you can spend on a slide, and whatnot.

However, rather than being another list of rules (which is, frankly, what I expected), silde:ology gives you the why of the rules, as well as examples of successful rule-breakage.

There is no absolute right way to make a good presentation. You can be as artsy and outlandish as you want, just as long as you are reaching your audience.

This book also introduced me to other aspects of "slideology" that I'd like to explore, like color theory, diagramming and typography. It's nice an colorful book that was actually fun to read.
Profile Image for Charles-Antoine.
195 reviews6 followers
September 15, 2013
Together with PresentationZen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, you can envision being confortable and fluent at designing compelling presentations.
This books focus mainly on the (graphical) design aspect (whereas PresentationZen puts this emphasis on the approach and methodology).
You'll learn a lot by the repetitively 'before-after' approach: a bad slide compares with its refactored version; impressive.
You will get another perception of your favourite presentation tool (PowerPoint, Keynote, Impress).
This book should not be read as a novel (from page 1 to the end) but rather should you muse regularly some good tips and hints.
Profile Image for Alper Çuğun.
Author 1 book81 followers
April 12, 2012
Nancy Duarte's book on presenting is a seminal work which should be read by everybody going near the field.

The book is written smartly and concisely and lays down both the basics and takes you on a conceptual journey how and why to create a presentation. She starts by explaining how your presentation should be attuned to audience needs and then goes on how to build a deck from concept to the design stages. She also gives an introduction in design which doesn't become too basic for experienced readers.

Together with Garr Reynold's “Presentation Zen” book, “slide:ology” is an excuse never to have to sit through a bad presentation in your life again.

Profile Image for Mckinley.
9,647 reviews82 followers
November 5, 2013
lots of examples of slides

7 questions for knowing audience
1. what are they like
2. why are they here
3. what keeps them up at night
4. how can you solve their problem?
5. what do you want them to do?
6. how might they resist?
7. how can you best reach them?

5 data slide rules
1. tell the truth
2. get to the point
3. p9ick the right tool for the job
4. highlight what's important
5. keep it simple

placement of elements created meaning: contract, flow, hierarchy, unity, proximity, whitespace

on a slide - avoid more than 3 layers of information
- create points of interest -1 main & up to 2 sub
- develop flow, and images with clear directional flow

Profile Image for Sebastian Gebski.
952 reviews840 followers
February 2, 2016
Basically a one-stop-shop to learn the secrets of presenting information using slides. Plenty of nice tips, examples (with visuals, don't try to read it on e-paper Kindle) & hints (sometimes originated to famous characters like Guy Kawasaki) you can use pretty much on a daily basis. Obviously by 'slides' & 'presentations' author doesn't mean horrific management consulting abominations (author refers to them as 'documents'), it's a book about proper slides that are aimed to help you pass efficiently & effectively the message you have.

If you like to present in public & you care about improving the way you do it - it's a must have.
Profile Image for Tanish.
150 reviews10 followers
October 13, 2014
I love the episode of the Office (US version), where Rainn Wilson's character sets the office on fire after his Power Point presentation proves ineffective.
This book makes some excellent points about how to make Power Point not suck (e.g. slides are there to back you up, not the other way around). If you have some solid design skills, it will work beautifully for you, but beginners may find some of the ideas a bit challenging (or lack resources to execute them). The principles work well for everyone though.
Profile Image for JP.
1,153 reviews38 followers
April 19, 2014
What I liked most about this book was the constant flow of practical guidance, framed as principles and concepts rather than absolutes. It covers all of the key elements of presentation design, across the full range of scenarios and tools. It would be impossible to read this and not gain some new insight about how to deliver a more creative or relevant visual presentation.
Profile Image for Susie.
1,618 reviews21 followers
August 27, 2016
Lots of practical ideas, although some are more easily said than done (like have a company set stock of images, etc), but many examples. I will definitely think back to this book when creating future presentations. I got a little sick of hearing about how great Inconvenient Truth was and how Al Gore had a home run with a presentation, then realized they helped create it; that explained a lot.
Profile Image for Miguel Panão.
321 reviews7 followers
September 19, 2014
A mandatory book for learning how to present any story in a great way. Simple and clear tips will help us make far better presentations. During my professional background I realized by experience several of the points raised by Nancy and she's right. We have the possibility of being great storytellers through our presentations. This book will help you achieve that goal.
2 reviews
July 26, 2014
the very fist thing is to know what your slides will be used for two days after the presentation : for those who use them as course back up material this book is not that useful, albeit inspirational.
Profile Image for Anedya Niedar.
10 reviews11 followers
May 21, 2014
Very useful tips to take your visual presentation to another level. I never knew some simple tricks & accents can do a lot to boost up a presentation. Definitely worth buying.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 241 reviews

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