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158 of 164 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good framework for authoring, but does it scale down?
Can you really deliver a PowerPoint presentation without having any bullet points in the deck? This book does a good job of convincing that this is possible. However, I believe that the book's greater contribution is pointing out that most people structure presentations as a dump of data rather than taking into account their audience and the goal of their presentation --...
Published on February 23, 2005 by Amazon Customer

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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising but ultimately disappointing
The message of this book is simple: tell a story with your PowerPoint slides. Sound like a great idea---and it is---but not very practical. Most of the clients for whom I work WANT bullets and, in fact, the delivery of the type of information they supply is bullet-summary stuff.

So the real challenge I've faced with clients is to take standard bullet slides and...
Published on September 16, 2005 by F. Burggraf


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158 of 164 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good framework for authoring, but does it scale down?, February 23, 2005
Can you really deliver a PowerPoint presentation without having any bullet points in the deck? This book does a good job of convincing that this is possible. However, I believe that the book's greater contribution is pointing out that most people structure presentations as a dump of data rather than taking into account their audience and the goal of their presentation -- why are people there? What do you want them to do or believe after you're done presenting? Even if you disagree with Cliff's convincing points on removing bullets from your decks, you should take to heart his framework for developing concepts and decks.

The running example is of a presentation for a proposal to approve some drug or another for the executive board of a company. While I'm sure there are lots of presentations done for boards, at the company I work most presentations are to groups of peer first-level managers and individual contributors about technical areas, product overviews, or change initiatives. The second most common are those to upper management on the status of a project or requests for resources. None of those are easily transformed into the marketing presentation, as they contain lots of data to present, sequences of actions that need to be taken, lists of stakeholders to be affected, etc. I could see how you can remove bullet points from certain types of presentations, but he didn't do a great job of convincing me that was true of all presentations.
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109 of 116 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond Bullet Points is Right, March 27, 2005
By 
These days, not many people head into meetings without the requisite set of PowerPoint slides. But critics are taking aim at PowerPoint and question whether it helps communication or shuts down thinking.

Cliff Atkinson believes he's built a better mouse trap. He wants us to dump boring, bullet-riddled slides, and he has a creative solution: he taps Hollywood-style storytelling to transform PowerPoint presentations from endless lists of bullet points into compelling communications.

Beyond Bullet Points is a guided methodology for using the power of storytelling to make PowerPoint presentations effective communication tools, not just speaker notes.

Atkinson relies on examples, templates, and downloadable information from his site to demonstrate his concepts and wean the reader off the use of mind-numbing bullets.

Atkinson will have you working on your story long before you touch the PowerPoint software, which is not common practice for many presenters. His book is full of other tips to help pull together a compelling and persuasive presentaton.

If you're a user of PowerPoint, add this book to your library.

Michael McLaughlin, coauthor with Jay Conrad Levinson of Guerrilla Marketing for Consultants.
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53 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has transformed my business, April 6, 2005
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I am a professional speaker and workshop leader. People have always told me I am good. But now I look at my presentations and think, "I cannot believe I used to present this garbage and people responded." The ideas I got from this book have completely transformed my business.

That may sound like a lofty claim but let me explain. I have never met Cliff Atkinson. Didn't know him from "Boo" before a month or two ago. I saw Cliff's book mentioned on a blog I read and began reading some of his posts. They were very useful and had a lot of great ideas. When this book was released, Cliff made an offer to do a makeover on a few presentations so that he could publically show people the results on his blog and in the discussion forum on his book site. When I saw that, I jumped at the chance.

My sales presentation drives the majority of my revenue. Why wouldn't I? If I could make it better, great. If I didn't like the result, I could always stick with what I had been doing.

Like it? Wow! The transformation has been amazing! You can see for yourself. Go to his blog and you can see my entire makeover process or you can see just a few before and afters in some of Cliff's blog posts. Look for Kim's makeover. I think you will agree the difference is truly amazing.

But it didn't stop there. What Cliff is really teaching is a structure for presenting information. Storytelling is one of the most powerful communication tools out there. I was a good story teller - but my stories weren't tight. They were not concise. The Beyond Bullet Point approach gives my audience exactly what they need to keep them interested and answer their questions - no more, no less. It puts you in their shoes.

I took Cliff's story structure and began to apply it in other areas. I have not only put it to work in other presentations, I tried a little experiment. I wrote one of my sixty second radio spots using Act 1 of Cliff's story structure. It began airing this week and right out of the gate it looks like it may be one of the best pulling ads I have ever run.

But it didn't stop there either. I have been working with an ad agency to develop a positioning statement (some would call it a tag line) and a jingle. We had been going back and forth on the positioning statement. Nothing popped. After I finished the story template I used for the sixty second spot, I sent it over to the creative guy at the ad agency and we instantly knew we had a positioning statement. It came naturally right out of Cliff's story structure.

So that is my story. I have never posted a review on Amazon before. I am an avid reader but I have no time to post reviews. For this book, I made time. I give this book my highest recommendation, which I will also do to readers of my newsletters and blog. I hope it is as powerful for you as it was for me.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Promising but ultimately disappointing, September 16, 2005
The message of this book is simple: tell a story with your PowerPoint slides. Sound like a great idea---and it is---but not very practical. Most of the clients for whom I work WANT bullets and, in fact, the delivery of the type of information they supply is bullet-summary stuff.

So the real challenge I've faced with clients is to take standard bullet slides and make them interesting, informative, attractive and conceptual. I was hoping that this book would bring new insights and suggestions to that challenge. Not so.

Also, this book screams for more examples...tons of them, in fact. Many "before and after" examples would be extremely valuable. And a web site with real-life examples and ideas might just persuade me to abandon "bullets" and take up storytelling.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An outsider's view, June 16, 2006
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When it comes to Cliff Atkinson's Beyond Bullet Points, I am a bit of an outsider. I don't read many computer books and, while I have worked with PowerPoint, my presentations are very simple. Since I admittedly use my share of bullet points in these presentations, I thought learning about an alternative approach would be useful. And while there are definite benefits to reading this book, it may not be perfect for everyone.

Many people use bullet points in their PowerPoint presentations; this can be a great way to organize thoughts, but Atkinson has a difference approach. Essentially, the Beyond Bullet Points method treats presentations as stories told in three "acts." Act One develops the story, Act Two develops the action and Act Three frames the resolution. Each act is broken down into scenes which provide the details. The first portion of the book explains how to work with each act; the second portion deals with the evolution from initial outline to final presentation.

This book assumes a certain amount of PowerPoint knowledge; if you want to learn about the application, this is not the place to start (on the other hand, you don't need to be a PowerPoint expert). One of the nicest things about Atkinson's approach is the way he allows presentations to be pared down to fit the time frame required: his method is designed best with a 45 minute presentation, but it can be easily compressed to a 15 minute or even 5 minute presentation. Another nice thing is that he has a website that readers can access that provides some helpful materials such as template documents.

On the other hand, Atkinson treats the issue of bullet points/no bullet points as something of a black-and-white issue. He doesn't really acknowledge that there may be a middle ground where bullet points should be used in certain situations, perhaps even in conjunction with his approach. I think it's more appropriate to view the Beyond Bullet Points as an alternative approach to PowerPoint presentations, not the ONLY approach.

Atkinson's writing style is straightforward, and like many computer books, a little dry. But as stated earlier, I am reading this book with something of an outsider's view. This is a good book, but Atkinson's inability to look beyond his own approach keeps it from being a five-star work. Nonetheless, if you do a lot of PowerPoint presentations, there is enough useful material in here to merit a read.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lasting value but degraded presentation, November 17, 2011
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This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points, 3rd Edition: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (3rd Edition) (Business Skills) (Paperback)
I've been a BBP fan since the first edition in 2005. The second edition in 2007 was a significant update and refinement. The latest, 2011 edition, is not worth buying if you already have the second edition -- the information is essentially the same but the 2011 is printed on cheap paper and the contrast between text and background for most of the illustrations is lousy, e.g. black text on a dark grey background, white text on a light grey background. I found it very difficult to read. The online version (O'Reilly Safari Books OnLine) is slightly better because it allows you to magnify the low contrast images which makes them slightly more legible. Thankfully, access to the online version is included with the ink-on-paper book free via a scratch-off, lottery ticket-type insert at the back of the book. If I had to do it again, I'd skip the paper book from Amazon and just purchase electronic access via O'Reilly. This version is more legible and you can print important pages that you might want hard copies of to highlight, mark-up, etc.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book will make a difference in your presentation., October 19, 2005
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If you rely on Powerpoint-like presentation in your work, get Cliff Atkinson's Beyond Bullet Points. I had determined that improving my company's presentations had potentially very high returns so I started poking around the net and Amazon for resources to help. At first, I struck out with books that were supposed to improve presentations, but ended up being guides on technically how to use Powerpoint. That was NOT what I was looking for.

Beyond Bullet Points is very different. It is a philosophy about creating presentations whose purpose is to communicate a story, not dump information. Frankly, it was not intuitive for me so I had to decide to just trust that it would work. When I was about ¾ finished, I started to really "feel" what I was doing. And, to my surprise, the most unlikely people really liked the result.

In a world where most business and how-to books are nothing more that restating what you already know (or, what you know isn't true), this one is an exception. I highly recommend it!
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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars (Maybe) good for marketing pitch, but NO good for scientific presentations, December 13, 2006
This is a how-to book promoting a new way of making slides "beyond

bullet points." The running example in the book is a marketing

presentation to the board of a fictitious company for approval for a

marketing campaign. The "story"-based approach forces presenters to

spend serious efforts "telling a (good) story", like a Hollywood

movie, instead of just standing and talking bullet points.

Unexperienced speakers may also find the "script template" very useful

to organize the talk. You can read the first chapter of the book and

watch a demo video from the book's website

<[...]>.

However, does it work for *other* kinds of presentations? Specifically,

how are you going to present scientific procedures and facts without

bullet points? Furthermore, what if your audience actually expect

bullet points? Scientific audience are trained (or conditioned) to

look for bullet "points", and they will find your "beyond bullet

points" presentation difficult to convince them with just headlines,

cute visuals/photos, and empty slides.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but over-rated, September 26, 2006
Good but it could be much better. The selection of books on this topic is poor to begin with. But this happens to be one of the best in that underserved category.

Good: Storyboarding concept, headlining, cutting the bullets, adding structure, template tools

Bad: Presupposes you are presenting to an audience (doesn't happen as often as it used to) rather than using PowerPoint as a printed resource, the Hollywood theme (it's beyond painful - and I cannot stress this enough - to read and it doesn't use the synonymous business terms and references even though he uses business examples in the book), lack of data and analysis (managers and executives don't allocate millions of dollars based on pretty pictures), the same points could be stated in half of the number of pages, the author makes it sound like the storyboard concept in business is actually new (consultants, analysts, and managers at top firms have been doing this for 20+ years).

Conclusion: Techniques make for good form but poor substance. The author benefits from a good marketing machine (well done, Cliff!) that makes the book seem better than it really is. If you want to excel at making presentations in companies, Beyond Bullet Points alone will not be a sufficient resource. You'll have to supplement with heavy doses of strategic and critical thinking, logic, analytical techniques, and PowerPoint mechanics. Still, the book is worth a read.
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29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great for some, but NOT ALL SLIDES!, April 18, 2007
I'm a MS Certified Instructor, MOUS expert on MS Office 95, 97, 2000, 2003, and have been a PowerPoint trainer for 9 years.

The biggest issue learners have with using PowerPoint as a presentation tool is overcoming the compulsive need to design the slides to read as a speech. Once they are educated to understand that the slide show is a component of the overall presentation, and should be treated as an enhancement to the speaker's verbal message, they begin to design slides that summarize and convey impact to the major speaking points delivered to the audience.

Bullets serve a legimate purpose - they aid the audience in organizing the information being conveyed into logical, heirarchical format. This assists with both learning and information retention. It is true that improper use of bullet points(too much text per bullet, flat format [too many or exclusivly top level bullets], overuse of the bullet slide layout)creates a low-impact, boring presentation. However, it is equally true that the total eradication of bullet points can have the same result! Here's why:

The audience perceives the standard slide design within 7-10 slides. They then begin to anticipate the design of the next slide before it is displayed. Repetative slide design, whether it is bullets or graphics, causes this to happen faster. Once the audience can anticipate slide design, their attention moves from the actual content of the presentation to the visuals on the screen, and the presenter has to fight to convey the message.

The best way to design a visual presentation is to VARY THE SLIDE DESIGN. This will keep the audience interested in the MESSAGE itself, not in the visuals on display.

Remember that the overall intent of any presentation is to convey a message - not to dazzle the audience with visual sparkle. The presentation is an ENHANCEMENT so that the audience will retain information, and is should not DETRACT from the message.

The best tool I've ever seen for slide design is available in software form. Google "Design Sense for Presentations". This is not another "how to" PowerPoint tutorial - it is a Visual Design instructional course that talks about varying design layout according to a THEME - the theme is used for consistency, but the slide content is varied for visual impact and to maintain audience interest.

It does NOT ban bullet points, but shows how to use them tastefully, with variety and intrigue, so as to capture the interest of the audience.

Good Luck to all those who want to improve!
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