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on January 22, 2009
I rarely review books, but this one was such a waste that I'd feel guilty if I didn't at least TRY to persuade you not to buy. The main problem with the book, as other reviewers have alluded to, is that it sort of tries to BE a design masterpiece rather than teach you. The design is interesting, but it is to the point that the content is subordinated to the design. There are maybe 5 pages worth of useful content.

Another irritant to me is that this is by far the most commercial book I've ever seen (more ads than a magazine). It seemed that every few pages I was being told to buy this book, or buy all of some other guys books. There is a two page section that is taken from Guy Kawasaki's blog. The whole thing is incredibly derivative (but shallow).

Finally, and this I can take responsibility for, it didn't meet my needs because I am not Al Gore, nor am I the CEO of a company. If I gave a presentation in the style of this book I'd be laughed out of the office. I'm an analyst, and the warm and fuzzy slides would not be good. Duarte's advice on data intensive slides? "Both [of Stephen Few's] books should be on your shelf along with everything Edward Tufte has written."
I have two Tufte books and they are virtually identical, I don't see myself buying his others (and they suffer from the same lack of relevance to corporate analysts). Disappointing.
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VINE VOICEon September 12, 2008
I have to rain on the parade of this book and Garr Reynold's book (and other ones).

The message is "I'm one of the best slide designers in the world (which is true) and I'm going to show you WHY."

The message should be "I'm one of the best slide designers in the world and I'm going to show you HOW."

You'll see plenty to interest you, but unless you're a full-fledged graphic designer you'll never recreate these slides. Imagine putting this book (and the Reynold's book) into a room with some of your worst slide creators, or even yourself. Would you see an improvement in their skills? I doubt it.

You might as well become a painter by reading books that have the world's greatest pictures in them. Even though there is explanatory text here it isn't enough to bridge the gap.

To see a book written for its audience, try the "Before and After" books by Jon McWade which deal with desktop publishing. Unfortunately John has not yet tackled slides, but you can see an page layout idea and make it yourself in minutes.

So, sorry about this, because both this and Reynold's book are "nice" books. The energy has gone into the book's design and production rather than the content. But that makes them coffee-table books, and unless you have a coffee table in your office I'd advise that you give both of them a miss.
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on February 23, 2012
The popular reviews on here seem to be the ones that give this book a lower rating. I'm not a professional designer type of person so perhaps I'm less of a purist and just in it for the joy of learning about presentations. I found the book to be a quick read and I liked that. There were some other reviews about this being low on content or too PowerPoint-related. Yes, it is called Slide:ology but it's not a PowerPoint book. The information was easy to digest as opposed to some books that want to expand on their points so much simply for the sake of filling space.

As someone just looking to improve my presentation style, this was a good book to read, although I started reading The Naked Presenter based on another review and have found that to be the book to get. That said, what stood out for me in this book were the following chapters and points:

- Chapter 4: Displaying Data
I thought that there were great tips in here about how to display data and charts in general. These tips are not PowerPoint-specific and can be referred to for any application you're using to generate graphs. For example, some useful recommendations were to wlways start your first data set for a pie chart at the 12 o'clock position, remove the legend and move the key into the graph, and use color to highlight what you really want viewers to focus on in the graph.

- Chapter 5: Arranging Elements
There was a lot of useful information about laying slides out in a grid. Some of the useful tips from here were: when using images of people, make sure that they are looking at the content instead of looking away, or fleeing it; and that leaving the top and bottom rows in a 5x5 grid creates a more cinematic feeling while providing space for titles and similar information.

- Chapter 7: Using Visual Elements
This chapter reminds you to think of your slide like a billboard and ask yourself whether your message can be processed effectively within 3 seconds. It also reminded me that my logo doesn't need to appear on every slide -- the people who have come to hear you speak most likely know who you work for.

- Chapter 9: Creating Movement
This inspired me to add some slight movement to a presentation I was working on. It educated me on the ability to use transitions between two slides to create a timeline effect, especially when there is information that can span two slides.

- Chapter 11: Interacting with Slides
It was here that I learned that hitting the "b" key during a PowerPoint slideshow would turn the screen to black so that the speaker can have the focus on them.

- Chapter 12: Manifesto: The Five Theses of the Power of a Presentation
My favorite of the five theses is "Practice design, not decoration". I think that sums up the book nicely.

I've been reading a few books on similar topics. They all have a good deal of overlap, but I think there's value in reading some of the same things over again in order to better reinforce them. This book is such a quick and easy read with well-done visuals and good tips that I don't agree with the harsh reviews given to it by others.
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on October 27, 2008
Don't buy this book. The text is maddeningly small and poorly contrasted. With postage stamp size visuals it's like reading a telphone book.
Get The Non-Designer's Design Book by Robin Williams and check out the website of the author of The Craft of Scientific Presentations, Michael Alley for templates and research based design tips.
With these two resources you'll have everything you need without having to wade through the padding in Duarte's book.
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on November 25, 2008
I had high hopes for this book. It looks very nice. It has the right nods to Tufte early on. But...

But the true content is very thin, includes a load of chart junk (the anti-Tufte - I guess the true cue is in the title, this is a PowerPoint book) and page after page of abstract diagrams demonstrating "flow" - much like the woeful second half of "Say it with Charts" which is about 50 pages of arrows.

Very very disappointing indeed.
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I just destroyed this book with folded pages and ink annotations, so the perfectionists out there may want to order two copies, one for eating and one for sharing. The price is phenomenally reasonable, especially for something that is all color and totally elegant.

This is not about powerpoint slides. If anything, it is a very subtle but explicit critique of how retarded they still are (e.g. no separation between bullet groups). This is an utterly inspiring combination of wisdom, education, visual excitement, and plain fun that "lives" what it preaches.

When I get back to the office I am going to read this book again while I create a briefing on the Earth Intelligence Network and educating the poor one cell call at a time that respects the deep knowledge being imparted by this author and her team. Mills Davis, visualization and semantic genius (Project10X) called my presentation "dense" yesterday, and I needed this book to understand just how polite he was being.

Bottom line mechanically: 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 font size MINIMJM. For the advanced audiences, 20 slides, 20 seconds each, 6 minutes and 20 seconds total.

I read and reread sections, and the recurring thought in my head was that this book may well be all one needs to run a semester long course on the communication of important complex ideas. The author does not just show a correct slide, the author breaks down every aspect (e.g. fonts, color, grid layouts, use of images, creating your own art) into separate chapters with very ably-illustrated palettes covering all the options. I have a note on this, "nuances are unpackaged and illustrated."

I note the author's admonition that change across the presentation is a distraction, that animation should support the message and the continuity of understanding.

For large organizations, the author covers templates as a means of harnessing the diversity of knowledge of varied functions and employees, while maintaining a consistency of brand. BRAND is huge within this book, and in this book BRAND is not a legal term, it is a philosophical term. I am hugely impressed by a chart showing UK companies that treat BRAND as a design imperative being so much more competitive and profitable than those that do not. This book is not just asserttions and demonstrations, it is fact and case based and eminently authoritative.

I learn for the first time that powerpoint slides can be instantly made to be black and white to focus audience on the speaker, or made all white, by pressing B or W. Why didn't I learn that from Microsoft? Because their tool bar is not designed to teach....perhaps?

Special pages for me:

10-11 The Presentation Ecosystem (Message, Story, Delivery)
12-13 Time Estimate for world-class presentations (36-90 hours)
18-19 Rick Justice and 27 slides on eight topics (organization)
58-59 Making Diagtrams Work Together
64-65 Following the Five Data Slide Rules (Tell the Truth is Rule 1)
82-83 The (Financial) Value of Good Design
116-117 Lose the logo on every slide....
142-143 Dissecting a font (this section alone was HUGE eye-opener)
148-149 Typesetting a block of text (what powerpoint does not do)

The references are phenomenal, and comprise an instant library for any person, firm, or school of design. I only have ten links allowed, so below I list the reference categories, and link to a single book from the multiples identified--no disrespect intended for the others!

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter)

The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design

Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands

Nigel Holmes On Information Design (Working Biographies)

Information Dashboard Design: The Effective Visual Communication of Data

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

The E-Myth Manager: Why Most Managers Don't Work and What to Do About It

The index is very good, another manifestation of the utter devotion to quality of the publisher, O'Reilly (I dislike most of their book sets, this one very properly rose to a proper high level).

Lots of white space. There isn't an ounce of fat or irrelevance in this book. It is world-class in every respect, and most publishers are so crummy about price and color that I want to end with a tip of the hat to o'Reilly for getting this one "just right."
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on September 15, 2010
I read some of the other reviews and I think some of the people who gave low ratings missed the point of this book. This is not a "How to" PowerPoint book. This is a "How to" effective presentation book. And if you read the introduction you should see the intent of Slide"ology.

Slide:ology provides theory behind visual communication using presentation media. The message is ...well, focus on the message of the presentation. The book provides basic design concepts that should help anyone in understanding what are the components of a well designed presentation. Key word here being design. I think some people struggle to understand that design means function and purpose instead of just making things pretty.

Some people mentioned small type and the book being hard to read. I thought the book was well designed and didn't have a problem with reading it. The pages provide ample room for taking notes.
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on May 31, 2010
PowerPoint is utilized so poorly so often. Slide:ology (in the spirit of Garr Reynolds wonderful books "Presentation Zen" and his more recent "Presentation Zen Design") helps provide a much more sophisticated and effective framework for how and when to use PowerPoint to its maximum potential. Not for the casual PowerPoint user, it suggests the truly symbiotic relationshp between form and content. It also suggests a critical focus on ideas and genuine persuasion - not just bullet points and information exchange. It allows you to develop your presentations with a whole new frame of mind and purpose. I enthusiastically recommend Nancy Duarte's approach and sage advice.
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on November 25, 2009
I didn't expect much from this book after reading the bad reviews. But since I was doing research on how to make the best keynotes I could I ordered it. Much to my surprise this book was not even close to the negative written reviews, It has a great format with a solid beginning, middle and end, it has case studies of companies. What I enjoyed about this book the most is the inspiration to create beautiful presentations, creating a purpose before starting a keynote through checklist for designing slides. I really loved the book and for how much better my presentations are going to be now that I finished it, it's completely worth the price.

I do have one thing to note, if you are a total beginner, it may be overwhelming to figure out how to go from making regular slides to mind blowing presentations, but the principals work for everyone,

Buy This Book!!
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on July 20, 2010
I've been on a quest to find the best books to guide me in great design of the PowerPoint presenatations I prepare for our company. I've read some pretty terrible books, all telling me how to use the best clip art or guiding me in the mechanics of WordArt, etc. Dreadful! I finally came across Slideology and the Presentation Zen books by Garr Reynolds, and I enjoyed them all three immensely. As far as having "advertisements" for other companies in the book (as one poster said), I found these to be more of real life examples, not advertisements. I enjoy seeing how top companies market themselves in their presentations. My plan is to revamp our corporate presentations using Duarte's design methods to show how much better our presentations can be. If your intention is to learn to use all of the transitions and other tools in PowerPoint, this is not your book. If you want to learn how to design a presentation that looks classy and will grab the attention of your audience, this IS your book.
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