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Replace Bullet Points with Dental Posters That Evoke Positive Feelings, Tell Stories, and Be Mentally Present
am 21. Oktober 2008
Long before there was PowerPoint, most presentations contained more columns of numbers and bullet points than pictures. PowerPoint seemed designed to capture the essence of those transparencies and make it faster to create them . . . while adding color. Compared to those ugly transparencies, PowerPoint seemed like an improvement.
By comparison, my dentist has always covered his walls with beautiful bleed images of gorgeous places combined with intriguing sayings about life. Those posters are the only uplifting thing about my trips to the dentist's office. He doesn't tell me any entertaining stories.
In presentationzen, Garr Reynolds shares with us that today's audiences like a standard PowerPoint presentation about as much as I like going to the dentist (I doubt if you are surprised by that). His prescription is to turn the typical presentation into a series of stories aided by exhibits that remind me of those dental posters while being very responsive (present . . . in his terminology) to the audience.
The book's main strength, and one that makes it well worth reading and following, is in describing a process that can be used to create a presentation that will be compelling. Even when I see a presentation that I like, I don't learn much from the example because the presenter doesn't share the process behind the result.
The examples almost all showed someone in a black turtle neck, black pants, and black shoes who looked like a Steve Jobs acolyte. As a result, there's an Apple versus Microsoft tone to the book that didn't match any environment where I ever see or give presentations (usually board rooms and senior corporate conference rooms).
Most presentations should be much shorter, should have a lot less material, and should be much easier to grasp. This book will help you if that's the way you want to go. Beware, however, that you don't go over the edge into becoming an "artiste" in your presentations. This book will probably push you a little too far in that direction.
For those who cannot imagine how an image might fit into a presentation, this book will be a great breath of fresh air. To those who want to copy the advice closely, keep your audience in mind. You might try to take them places where they don't want to go.
In my 30-plus years of presentation experience, I find that the story is the key to success. One good story will more than carry the day. You can draw on a chalk board with your fingernails for graphics and a good story will still work just fine. To me, the weakness of this book is that it doesn't pay enough to the story telling aspect of successful presentations.
I recommend Stephen Denning's books on story telling to help you with that aspect of presentations.