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The Presentation Lab: Learn the Formula Behind Powerful Presentations Paperback – March 10, 2014
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From the Back Cover
Discover the Difference Between Great Slides and Great Presentations
Based on a proven process from one of the world's most prominent presentation consultancy and design firms, The Presentation Lab challenges everything you thought you knew about creating and delivering engaging business presentations. Author Simon Morton shares his unique Presentation Optimization methodology and takes readers on a guided tour through evolution and revolution to discover what makes an effective presentation (and you may be surprised to learn that great design is not at the top of the list).
Using practical tips and drawing on Simon's experiences working with companies around the globe, this book will help everyone who ever needs to present by revealing what works and what doesn't and, more importantly, why. The Presentation Lab tackles "Death by PowerPoint" head on by dispelling presentation myths, examining the latest presentation innovations, exploring new concepts for presentation delivery, and sharing insights on how the presentation landscape itself is changing.
About the Author
SIMON MORTON is an internationally recognized expert on presentation development, and is the founder of Eyeful Presentations, one of the top three presentation consultancy and design companies in the world. Serving customers from more than 20 countries via five global offices, Simon has worked with top brands and thought-leaders, helping them to develop presentations that get the job done. He is a frequent keynote speaker at events across the globe and is well known for his concept challenging views on modern business presentations.
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But I am pleased to say that "The Presentation Lab: Learn the Formula Behind Powerful Presentations" by Simon Morton has leap-frogged up near the top of my list!
Based on his company Eyeful Presentations' time-tested approach, the author generously pulls back the curtains of his "laboratory" to share with us their formula for success. This aesthetically beautiful and well-designed work (starting with the eye-catching and velvety-feeling cover) is visually appealing, jam-packed with terrific content, and actually fun and entertaining to read. And with his casual, personal, humorous (and it must be said, British) conversational tone and style it's almost like having a knowledgeable and caring presentation coach in a book.
The Presentation Lab powerfully reinforces the crucial point (that is, incredibly, so lost on so many!) that your presentations are not about YOU...they are all about YOUR AUDIENCE; the MESSAGE you want to impactfully convey to them; and, ultimately, what you want them to DO with it...in the form of some kind of "call to action."
As my own company specializes in presentation design and delivery consulting, training, and coaching, The Presentation Lab will now join the more well-known works of Garr Reynolds, Nancy Duarte, and a short-list of others, atop our list of recommended presentation skills resources. Going forward, this book is definitely one that I will want to keep close-at-hand to refer back to for inspiration again and again.
After busting some presentation myths (such as the 10/20/30 rule), the book launches into a discussion of storytelling for the sake of your audience and stresses the fact that a presentation must be about the audience first, foremost and always. Okay, audience-focused presentation is nothing new, but what The Presentation Lab brings to the table is what I think is the most solid of nuggets in the book: The Audience Heat Map. Morton identifies three essential audience types (which are not mutually exclusive) and then shows how to craft a presentation specific to a unique audience. Examples and case studies are used to show how to appeal to audiences that may be factual, visionary and/or emotional. Even if you put the book down at this point and began incorporating this thinking, you’ll find yourself creating better presentations.
The book then moves onto story flow, although I do wish there continued to be more examples and case studies of this topic as there were with audience identification. There is a valuable discussion of simplicity and some wonderful simple arguments for the same: is you message simple enough to be shared with others?
The book reads quickly, and is witty (“rumor has it Churchill was rubbish at PowerPoint”), but being more of a system (though thankfully a well-thought out and simplified one), it’s harder to skim or to jump around. What Morton makes clear throughout, however—and really brings home with some appropriate client stories and case studies from his firm Eyeful Presentations—is that this disciplined approach is not for the careless or extremely time-crunched presenter. A deliberate approach to creating a successful presentation doesn’t have to mean endless hours of storyboarding, sticky notes and outlining, but it does require attention to one’s audience and one’s goals. If you’re willing to meet the Presentation Lab halfway there, I think this is an excellent book that has the potential to dramatically improve the effectiveness of one’s presentations. If you are like many of Eyeful’s clients, and are genuinely serious improving your presentation and not just making pretty pictures, give it a careful read. If you just want pretty slides, look elsewhere.
What do I think is missing? I would have loved to have seen more examples of what Morton considers successful slides. For example, in declaring the Presentation Zen style a busted myth, it would have been great to have seen some actual visual counter-examples. And while certain one-off topics do seem on-topic, the very brief discussions of data, infographics and stock imagery still struck me as not quite part of the organic whole. But that’s just me quibbling.
I had been looking forward to the book for quite some time, and I was not disappointed. I think it’s a valuable addition to the bookshelf of any serious presenter and presentation creator.
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