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Speaking PowerPoint: The New Language of Business Paperback – October 10, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 40 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


This book changed my way of thinking about PowerPoint and how to use it. I strongly urge you to pick up a copy and give it a read.
- Chris Witt, Author, Real Leaders Don't Do PowerPoint

This is the thinking person's book on PowerPoint presentations. Full of interesting, important, innovative and--at times--provocative ideas that can elevate any corporate presentation.
- David K. Farkas, Ph.D., University of Washington

...grabbed and held my attention. You'll learn plenty of new techniques from this book. I know I did. This one's a keeper.
- Michael McLaughlin, Management Consulting News

Where Bruce's book excels is in its relevance to the way that business gets done. He helps you identify what you should communicate and what can be left out...all with the goal of being as effective as possible.
- Jeremy Epstein, Never Stop Marketing

From the Back Cover

Learn the new language of business in the boardroom.
The rulebook that should come with every copy of PowerPoint.

In the first book of its kind, author Bruce Gabrielle reviews 40 years of research from fields as diverse as information design, neuroscience, cognitive science, education, advertising, graphic design and the legal profession to learn the secrets of using visual communication to powerfully influence in the boardroom. Based on how the mind works, the Mindworks Presentation Method shows you how to create business slides that are clear, professional-looking and convincing, and can be your secret weapon for selling ideas like never before and winning in the idea marketplace.

"Finally, we can graduate from ad-hoc and rule-of-thumb advice to a scientifically proven method for really winning in the idea marketplace."
- Zubair Murtaza, Sr. Director, Microsoft Corp.

"An outstanding resource for executives. This book presents fundamental principles for creating visuals that communicate and sell ideas in the boardroom and beyond."
- Tonya Fuhs Wallace, Director, Leadership Development at Chicago Booth

"Practical advice to enhance your ability to persuade, influence and inform in today's business world where PowerPoint is an essential business and communications tool."
- Gerardo A. Dada, Sr. Director, Baraarvoice

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Insights Publishing (October 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 098423604X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984236046
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.7 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,215 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
PowerPoint and its infamous bullet points have been so abused in later years that the term "PowerPoint death" has become widespread, to the extent that some voices claim that PowerPoint is making us stupid or threatening our thinking and reasoning.
It's understandable that as a reaction some very popular books published in the last couple of years about presentations focused on creating minimalist slides, with stunning visuals and little text. These decks might be appropriate for ballroom-style presentations before large audiences expecting to be motivated and/or entertained.
However, the vast majority of presentations in the business world are boardroom-style presentations in which these design guidelines have little application. Bruce Gabrielle has written a book for the rest of us: the professionals who have to speak often in boardroom meetings before small, highly motivated audiences expecting lots of details and thorough information.
This type of "formal" presentations had been neglected and forgotten in previous literature. This book is fully oriented to people who have to create and deliver strategic plans, marketing plans, research reports, product planning decks, execution plans, program proposals and other business planning presentations.
Another differentiating feature of the book which I highly appreciated is the heavy use of results from cognitive science research to back up all its recommendations and guidelines. Whereas other books speak off the cuff, this one supports all its claims with solid evidence.
The book counts on a great number of carefully designed slides to illustrate the dos and don'ts of effective graphic communication.
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Speaking PowerPoint is one of the best books on slide presentations I have seen in a long time because it is full of practical suggestions, solidly supported by evidence, and clearly and compellingly written.
But it's not for everyone. If you want to learn how to put together beautiful slides with stunning visuals to inspire or entertain, buy a book such as Nancy Duarte's Resonate or Garr Reynolds' Presentation Zen.
But if you want to sell ideas to critical thinkers, Speaking PowerPoint will help. To see where this book fits and why it is so important, let's first look at the situations where PowerPoint decks can be deployed:
At the extreme right of the scale are the ballroom style presentations, which are presented to large audiences. Think of Steve Jobs doing a new product launch. In these types of presentations, the speaker does all the talking, supplies almost of all the words, and uses compelling visuals to add to the emotional impact.
Moving to the left, you have what Gabrielle calls briefing decks, which are used in boardroom settings; the audience is much smaller, but still may include up to about twenty people. The speaker is still doing most of the talking, but there is some interactivity.
Discussion decks are used in boardrooms as well, but the audience might be in the single digits. The presenter still does most of the talking, at least at first, but the primary purpose is a full-participation discussion with a lot of interaction.
Finally, a reading deck can be used as a document, meant to be read individually either on paper or on a screen. In this situation, the deck has to stand alone and convey all the important information by itself.
Speaking PowerPoint is intended for decks on the left side of the scale.
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I find the ideas in Bruce's book brilliant: his distinction between ballroom-style and boardroom-style presentations has cleared up a lot of confusion on my part. As someone who has heavily invested himself in learning the craft of writing, I have always been irked by the imperatives of the "Death by Powerpoint" community who have railed against "text-heavy" and "bullet-pointed" slides in favor of pretty little pictures accompanied by almost no text. It has always seemed to me that what these people have been judging is bad writing not bad PPT design.

Bruce's emphasis on storyboarding and his defense of slides with a picture and minimal "well-written" text is a workable compromise, and something I can teach to the engineers and operations folks who I train.

Finally, his initial comment that the first slide should begin with a "thesis" with a "because-statement" is something I have been teaching for years with little support. I am so glad that I have finally found support on this point from a knowledgeable researcher like Bruce.
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Format: Paperback
Having spent my entire professional career in either consulting or corporate strategy, I found this book extremely useful. It demystifies the process of creating Powerpoint decks and provides practical recommendations grounded on fundamental human behavior science. It has been a challenging journey when the way most of us learn to create decks is through an apprenticeship model. The learnings are all based on your boss's or firm's deck style. Often, the basis of your promotion depended on your ability to quickly adjust and learn how to create decks. Many hours were spent on relearning and being told that its more of an art than a science. I wish I had this book when I first started creating decks. The book is well written and offers additional references if you choose to dive deeper into a particular topic. I like how I can quickly find what I need and have examples to make the book's recommendations real. It's changed the way I create decks and has transformed the way my team approaches them today.
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