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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent System for Effective Presentations
Beyond Bullet Points is about how to communicate effectively using PowerPoint. You start by defining a single purpose or goal, set a limited number of objectives to achieve that goal, and support those objectives with explanations logically arranged.

Nothing new about that. What's special here is an easy-to-follow system that pretty much guarantees success by...
Published on November 11, 2007 by bibliobob

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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars simple but useful
For a book that is about presenting information concisely, there are a lot of unnecessary words and pages, but perhaps that's necessary to make a book out of it. Nonetheless, the information is useful, and my presentations are much better as a result of following his advice. His focus on making your main points fit into a two line title has made my verbiage much more...
Published on January 17, 2008 by Robert P. Miller


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49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent System for Effective Presentations, November 11, 2007
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This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
Beyond Bullet Points is about how to communicate effectively using PowerPoint. You start by defining a single purpose or goal, set a limited number of objectives to achieve that goal, and support those objectives with explanations logically arranged.

Nothing new about that. What's special here is an easy-to-follow system that pretty much guarantees success by forcing you to think about what the audience needs to know, rather than what to put on a slide. It's a very solid approach and much more helpful than, "First, write down your goal."

The process starts with a MS Word template that is so simple, elegant and easy to use that I couldn't resist trying it. Once completed, it becomes a roadmap or specification that guides you in creating or finding images that best support the points you want to get across.

The author has distilled thousands of years of knowledge about effective communication - from Aristotle to recent research by educational psychologists - into a very simple and practical system. And should you for some reason want to delve into original sources, he credits them.

It's much more about content than the software, and assumes a rudimentary knowledge of PowerPoint. It does not include any of those ubiquitous thematic templates with design elements repeated on each slide, and it explains why they should be avoided. It does include a PowerPoint template to help organize and structure your presentation.

On the negative side, though the system is simple and elegant, the book less so. It would benefit from a good editing, paring it down to about a third its size. And its layout and design is less inviting than it might be.

But that doesn't detract from the value of the information, which includes advice on editing presentations ruthlessly and making the design simple, clear and attractive. The author has thoughtfully provided a concise summary of the system as appendices - not in the book but on the included CD. I suggest you print out appendices A, C, and D first, and use them as a guide through the text.
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58 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best yet from Cliff Atkinson... I'm now a complete fan!, April 2, 2008
This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
I recommend "Beyond Bullet Points" in my class all the time. I continually have people coming up to me and asking where my slides came from or how I go about creating them. While I cannot say that I stick to the BBP process strictly, I do use its concepts heavily in my slides. This is why I tell these people ot start with BBP.

Well, I just picked up my copy of the 2007 version of BBP last week and wow! This is what it should have always been. It was good before, but the difference between the original BBP and the 2007 versions is as big as the difference between PowerPoint 2003 and PowerPoint 2007. Cliff has provided much more in the way of research-based findings that support the BBP methodology. He has also, I feel, done a much better job of explaining the whole process.

If you are totally new to BBP, you will understand the process and the reason it works much better with this new version that those of us who are old timers now. If you've used the first book or were even turned off by the first book, I highly recommend taking a look at this one. I don't believe you'll regret it.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible guide for creating PowerPoints, January 3, 2008
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This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
This book converted me from an anti-PowerPoint extremist to a true believer. Why? Because all my traditional - and well accepted - ideas about putting together PowerPoints were wrong. Atkinson's BBP system is far better. He starts by explaining some basics about how we learn. What he says makes sense and is backed up by research. Traditional PowerPoint presentations violate most or all of these basics by trying to convey too much, too quickly. Atkinson shows how to break up ideas into digestible and memorable pieces with the proper use of templates, text, and images. But before getting into those specifics, he details his system for creating your overall PowerPoint story. Again, his suggestions run counter to conventional practice. For instance, in BBP, everything starts with the Slide Sorter View. Like most people, I guess, I'd start with the Normal View and start pounding out slides. Wrong! With BBP, you craft your story logically and systematically using storytelling methods that are tried and true. The heart of BBP is in storyboarding, which Atkinson likens to the art of storyboarding a film. The result of using BBP is a presentation that is coherent and persuasive.

Atkinson provides the theory and all the "how-to" details for building a presentation using his templates, PowerPoint 2007, and various other Microsoft products. If you don't use the 2007 version of PowerPoint, many of the "how-to" procedures won't apply. The book is still worth reading if only for an understanding of BPP principles and techniques.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars simple but useful, January 17, 2008
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This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
For a book that is about presenting information concisely, there are a lot of unnecessary words and pages, but perhaps that's necessary to make a book out of it. Nonetheless, the information is useful, and my presentations are much better as a result of following his advice. His focus on making your main points fit into a two line title has made my verbiage much more effective, and it's kind of a fun challenge. I've modified his approach significantly to fit my needs, but without having read the book I'd still be back with overly long and kind of boring PP presentations.

If you are only going to buy one book, tho, I'd probably recommend Presenting to Win [ASIN:B000OHZG9Y Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story]] instead.
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48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Business People Beware!, January 5, 2008
This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
This is a good book but it fails in a big way - it does not address the real needs of a Powerpoint user within a corporation today, which is the source of the vast majority of Powerpoints created. There is virtually no attention given to how to present analysis, data, and findings and how to report on the details of a critical project that managers, senior leaders, executives, and board members will use to guide their decision making. Consequently, the author's suggestions are not enitely actionable by the largest group of Powerpoint users - business professionals.

Did it really take two versions of the book to make the point that slides that contain fewer bullets are easier to read than those that do not? Realistically, if you created a presentation using the author's advice and cute examples, you would create big files, burn out your ink cartridge, and leave your coworkers questioning the strength of your analytical skills!

Readers, please understand: the author's message about this topic resonates because users are so fed up with the problem (too many poorly designed and delivered presentations), but that does not mean that his suggestions are the answer either. You'll note that the author's credentials suggest that his strength is in communications rather than business. And this is indeed what he delivers. If your need is not presenting any type of business or scientific analysis, then I believe this book can be of great help.

This book does well for the Powerpoint user who is creating a presentation that will be talked through and explained to an audience (Eg. teachers in a classroom, salespersons with customers, speakers at a large conference etc.). There are some great tips on how to craft and deliver your message and to keep your audience engaged.

However, the techniques do little for the slide deck that will be printed and circulated around a table for review or one whose content needs to stand on its own without the verbal narrative it would otherwise need to be meaningful.

Hope that helps.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great approach, but could be more concise, August 31, 2009
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This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
Like most business professionals today, I live and think in Power Point almost every day and suffer through terrible presentations almost hourly. I purchased this book, along with Presentation Zen and Slideology, after checking various blogs and other reviews.

Beyond Bullet Points presents an approach to organizing and structuring a presentation that I find useful and effective. It draws on basic narrative structures found in film to create a framework for organizing a presentation into a story. The genius lies in helping people understand that presentations are a story, and need a setting, a protagonist, a conflict, a resolution, and action. This book explains each element and provides lots of guidance for why they are powerful and how to use that framework for creating presentations that get people to take action.

Also very effective were the suggestions on how to create presentations starting with outlines and speaker notes prior to creating slides. When I took this approach at work, it was incredibly useful because it helped people separate the story I would tell from the actual slides, so that for the first time the presentation was more of a performance and less of a barrage of bullet points.

On the negative side, this book is not a very good reference for those who are looking for more help with the graphics of their presentations. This is not a design book. And I think that the book could be about 100 pages shorter than it is.

Overall, I find this to be the best book I've found so far on how to present with presentation software. It has a great overall approach, lots of examples and resources (both online and in the CD).
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27 of 35 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars 200 pages of fluff, May 19, 2008
This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
This book is awful. It promises to show you how to create powerpoint presentations that motivate and inspire. But instead, it gives you a couple of pages teaching you the author's format (basically, a Hollywood script, in 3 Acts) then spends the rest of the book telling you how to create hidden slides, how to insert clip-art, and tons of "filler" pages of "top 10 things to remember" that are, frankly, common sense.

The Hollywood format, does look somewhat useful for creating a dialog with your audience and the supporting slides for that conversation. But it seems the author had about 20 pages of content, but needed to create another 180 pages so he could sell a book. And in that 180 pages he fails to discuss important topics like how to summarize ideas crisply on a slide, and instead pushes all the content into the notes section, and uses the slide as a place to put clip art of a sailboat, or something equally pointless. All the content in the notes section? Why not just use a Word document then?

I returned this book to Barnes & Noble, disgusted by the shallow treatment of an important topic. I almost never return books, but this so completely failed to fulfill the book's promise that I felt swindled.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It really does work, December 8, 2007
By 
KAS in YVR (Vancouver, BC Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
I have heard Cliff speak in several webinars, most recently demonstrating his system, Beyond Bullet Points, with mindmapping software. Convinced, I bought the book and used it to prepare a 90-minute presentation to a professional audience and was extremely happy with the result.

As a first-time user it took many hours longer than if I had defaulted to slides full of bullet points. And, at times, finding the information you need in the book can be tedious. As one reviewer has already stated, it could benefit from a more vigorous editing. What is lacking is a chapter that pulls all the steps together in a more 'recipe-like' format. That being said, I won't ever revert to bullet point presentations again. This book is definitely worth purchasing even if you only give one presentation a year that matters.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond The Tyranny Of Text..., December 14, 2007
This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
I first encountered Cliff Atkinson in a webinar in 2004 - that brief session truly transformed my PowerPoint presentations. He suggested replacing lists of bullet points with illustrative images - it was an epiphany for me!

Up until this point I had been working (hard!) to reduce the amount of text and the relative boredom of bullets, but with only limited success. His idea to replace the text on a slide with a graphic that supports and helps communicate your concept is extremely effective. Instead of reading or summarizing bulleted text, you can verbally communicate your message while the image helps capture the attention of your audience and truly illustrates the ideas.

Here are some distinct advantages of this concept:

- You stop reading slides (even better, your audience stops reading the slides for themselves!)
- Interesting graphics capture the audience's attention
- Images are more readily remembered than text - resulting in better audience retention of your message

Atkinson also points out that photos of real entities tend to be stronger than clip art or similar media. He also suggests that the text you plan to replace with an image can be moved into the "Notes" area in PowerPoint - providing the ability deliver your message in text format to your audience after the presentation is over. A very nice touch!

I can confirm that these ideas work very well - based on direct "before and after" feedback.

A second message in the book focuses on "storyboarding" your presentation. While this may be helpful to some, these ideas resonated less successfully with me. The real value of the book is helping presenters transform their PowerPoint presentations from the tyranny of text to illumination by images!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great system for creating effective presentations, November 18, 2007
This review is from: Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft® Office PowerPoint® 2007 to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire (Paperback)
This book does a great job of outlining a simple and elegant process for developing effective presentations. It also does a good job of explaining why the system is effective with ample references to supporting research. The book is also a useful guide and manual that you can refer to when creating presentations regardless of what software you use. I am an Apple Keynote user and I found the book to be very useful and relevant.

In sum, I highly recommend this book for anyone looking to improve the effectiveness of their presentations.
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