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199 Reviews
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129 of 136 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The simple cover and concept shields a deeply powerful tool
I saw the book on the shelf at Borders and the cover caught my attention. I read the first few pages and knew I had to read the rest.

I am a technical trainer and writer and have been teaching classes for more than 10 years now. For the last 7 years I've been using a pen tablet in my classes to draw diagrams on-the-fly while lecturing about different technology...
Published on April 1, 2008 by Tom Carpenter

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139 of 141 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars How ironic
Like many books, "Back of the Napkin" seems to have begun with a brilliant very short concept that someone (correctly) thought would sell like hotcakes if padded out into a full-length book. The author really does present significant insights, but the irony is that they would have been best summarized literally on the back of a napkin, rather than dragging them out into...
Published on April 3, 2010 by John Bartelt


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5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable business tool, February 20, 2013
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This review is from: The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures (Hardcover)
The author presents a fresh and effective means for all of us to clearly present our ideas and assist others in showing their approaches to problem solving through visual literacy. A real breakthrough in communications.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Easy Read, Great Points, February 19, 2013
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This is our required reading for my Master's class. Way better than a standard textbook. Easy/quick read, great illustration, easy to apply in the real world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Opens up a whole new way of thinking, February 6, 2013
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I know that I have always been a visual thinking type of person. I *see* problems and solutions in my head as pictures. But until I got this book, it was merely something I just understood about myself; "yes, I'm more of a visual type of person" and that is that. Just a self observation such as my right arm is stronger than my left arm.

Then I got this book and it helped me better understand what it means to be a visual thinker but, more importantly, how to leverage and even strengthen those innate skills. As a result, I am more excited to tackle problems and solution description as ways to sharpen these skills. The more I practice, the better I get.

Value of this stuff extends wat beyond corporate board/conference rooms. The techniques are relevant in all aspects of life including home-life. This has expanded my thinking, solution and communication skills and is, therefor, worth more than the price of the book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars great book, January 24, 2013
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This review is from: The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures (Hardcover)
easy to understand, I read it in two days, highly recomended, I enjoy it very much and bet you will
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4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing, January 3, 2013
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Very interesting ideas in this book. Very well written to be immediately applied and understood by anyone for different business scenarios.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Not as simple as the cover, January 2, 2013
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Amazon Customer (Coeur d Alene, Idaho, US) - See all my reviews
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The material didn't fit the cover so shame of me for judging this book by ...

I believe books like this are meant to simplify our work but even reading it was difficult; at least for this simple mind. And if I must, the shape of the book may be clever but it doesn't fit in the bookshelf well at all. Just not what I expected.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Okay for reading, great for reference, December 25, 2012
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T. Sales (McKinney, TX) - See all my reviews
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I originally bought this book in a bookstore to think about a presentation I was preparing in a different way. After reading the most helpful reviews, I wanted to contribute a different perspective. Most of the reviewers focus on whether there's enough information here to warrant a book. Or that author Dan Roam used his book to congratulate himself too much in finding a profession that really isn't a profession. Both perspectives are probably fair when you wonder whether this book is a good one to buy and "get through."

Regardless of all that, "The Back of the Napkin" has been useful for me on several occasions. When you see how people typically put together their PowerPoint presentations and whether they truly accomplish what they set out to do, I'd say generally they do not. They think about the most important subject matter they're covering and pull out the content to put up on the screen to read back TO their audiences. If done in a training class, the trainees mark in their notes that that's important so they can be ready for the test. Many, many PowerPoints for training or presentation are constructed in this way. Which is why PowerPoints often have a bad reputation for making presentations little more than presenters talking AT their audiences rather than WITH them. The result is that they miss the opportunity to truly discuss and analyze topics, to consider different approaches, to make decisions about solving issues, or to buy into whatever that presenter is selling.

What Dan proposes in this book is that visualizing those kinds of presentations can get presenters to what they really hope happens with their audiences. Here is the short paragraph Roam offers near the beginning that really encapsulates what this approach accomplishes that makes this book worth reading:

"...[This] was my watershed moment in understanding the power of pictures. I thought about all the problems [my sketch] helped to solve. First, simply by drawing it, I had clarified in my own mind a previously vague idea. Second, I was able to create the picture instantly, without the need to rely on any technology other than paper and pen. Third, I was able to share the picture with my audience in an open way that invited comments and inspired discussion. Finally, speaking directly from the picture meant I could focus on any topic without having to rely on notes, bullet points, or a written script. The lesson for me was clear. We can use the simplicity and immediacy of pictures to discover and clarify our own ideas, and use those same pictures to clarify our ideas for other people, helping them discover something new for themselves along the way."

I probably agree with the other reviewers that the act of originally reading this book is perhaps more than you want to know about the theory or science of why visualization works. But as a reference book, "The Back of the Napkin" has been helpful for me in several situations where we had to get away from words on a screen to get an audience understanding the complexity of an issue they were meeting to learn, discuss and problem-solve. Once you get through that initial reading, the idea and the numerous pictures Roam uses in the book can be a helpful step in improving a presentation you're about to give. It's a great book to have on your bookshelf for reference.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Needed for a class, and got it ahead of time!!! Thanks to seller's prompt shipping!, December 10, 2012
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Fun class on visual literacy, this book explains the strength of visual messages for all reasons, personal and business. Even if you don't have a class, it's a great read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading, December 9, 2012
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R. L. Johnson (Bellevue, WA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Pictures (Hardcover)
This is right up there with Milo Frank's "How to Get Your Point Across in 30 Seconds or Less" except it covers how you get to that point visually. which is much more effective for complex ideas and concepts. It gives you the tools to develop those ideas and concepts simply and effectively as a group or in front of a group. Very powerful.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing, November 19, 2012
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Simple, easy do read and understand, read and apply approach. Useful and amazing!
Highly applicable on businesses environments where solving problems and model process and systems are crucial for success.
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