The art and science of creating great presentations

Nancy Duarte

O’Reilly 2008

ISBN 978-0-596-52234-6

See also the book’s website.

Over the last year or so, I’ve been investigating aspects of presentation skills.  My motivation has been to try and improve my slide design to make the data I present more easily assimilable.  To an extent, my interest is sparked by the different types of presentation I’m increasingly asked to make.  From detailed reports of my research, I have recently delivered slide-free talks, presentations to schools, and feel I should use presentation media to convey strategic concepts in my work environment.

Books I’ve found interesting and/or useful in data presentation include the various books by Edward Tufte (reviewed elsewhere on this site), and one or two books outlining slide design, mostly useful in delivering concepts rather than data, such as Presentation Zen, and this book, Slide:ology.

To my mind, this isn’t a book to read from cover to cover, but a book to dip in and out of, reading sections.  It’s very informative on many aspects of slide design, including use of images, colour palettes and layout ratios.  Sections also cover use of movement, animation, video and slide transitions all to add structure and story-telling to the presentations.  it’s a trove of excellent advice.

I have a couple of criticisms and reservations- neither particularly severe.  The general tone of the book comes over as a bit self-congratulatory (and back-slappy with Duarte’s chums in the presentation design industry).  Also, I find it’s aimed mostly at the corporate customer – it’s hard to see how many of the design precepts could be easily applied to the kind of technical presentations that I generally deliver.  Nontheless, I think I’ll pick up useful ideas.