Garr Reynolds wrote a book in 2008, and he has a follow up book published this year (2010) called Presentation Zen Design – the library has both books in its collection!
Edward Tufte, an expert in visual communication of information said: “There’s no such thing as information overload, only bad design.”
What’s off kilter with today’s “normal” practice for presentations?
Think about presentations you’ve attended- what didn’t work?
Think about it from the presenter’s side- what didn’t work? What was challenging?
What are presentations but a form of communication? Communication is defined as “the act of conveying information”
It’s your job as a presenter to communicate with the audience. By doing so, you are delivering a message.
Reynolds pulls concepts from a wide variety of books.
He connects concepts from Daniel Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind” to presentation design- the idea that we’re living in a “conceptual age” – high concept (detect patterns, opportunities), high touch, right-brain. Logic and analysis are still vital. Pink and Reynolds argue, however, that to succeed today creativity, innovation, and a new approach to life are essential.
Pink’s “six aptitudes” – most are self-explanatory, but… - symphony (identify patterns, make new connections among ideas not associated before) Meaning- show the audience this is important to you- it has meaning for you, and the audience means a lot to you. I’d also call it passion. read your audience- non-verbal cues- are they getting it? What cues are you communicating to them?
So how do you deliver your message? By reaching out and connecting with your audience.
Reynolds talks in his book about storytelling.
Adding personal context helps you and your audience connect and communicate. Your personal experience, put in context of their previous knowledge – analogies, common experiences, etc. Your own stories, that of your customers, etc.
And it doesn’t have to be about life-altering events- it can be short anecdotes that people can relate to.
When done effectively, your audience “gets it” and understands and REMEMBERS your message
In both design and message, Reynolds recommends
Keep to core message – what’s the one thing you want your audience to remember Keep your design simple Keep your presentation “brief” – suggests 80-90% of time allotted
Reynolds suggests preparing first by finding a quiet spot away from your computer.
Use paper and pen, whiteboard, sticky notes to brainstorm and get ideas out there-
THEN organize - draw sample slides on blank PPT notes pages, via outline in slideware, etc.
Reynolds talks about restrictions or limits and how these can yield higher creativity- forces you to think in new ways about your message and how to convey it within your self-imposed rules.
This fish represents all the things we REALLY want to include in our presentation- all those goodies, the data we want to share- but we can’t possibly cram EVERYTHING into our slide deck.
Time (last minute = procrastination?), space, words, images - it drives my colleagues nuts, but I work better when ideas and plans percolate in my mind for a while before I put things in motion- so I tend to work best as a last-minute kind of person. This presentation is no exception!
Restraint can be in the number of words you use, the time you take to prepare, the content of your images- keep it simple!
Think of Twitter – how would you communicate your message in only 140 characters?
What about Haiku poetry?
"pe-chak-cha“- 20 slides, 20 seconds each
There are many simple design concepts covered in Presenatation Zen. Here are a few that stuck with me…
Signal is the message
Noise is everything else that doesn’t actively contribute to the message – it can be text, design elements, images, etc.
One solution is to use of handouts or other supporting materials to free slides of clutter, “noise”
Try eliminating components to your slide and ask yourself “can this slide’s message survive without it?”
Designers ask, “what’s the signal-to-noise ratio” –or SNR…
If in doubt, leave it out!
Cut out all options- just top 5
Removed labels that were below original bar chart and inserted
Cognitive load theory- research in 80s and 90s
Picture superiority effect- recognition/recall of information improves with pictures when exposure is for 30 seconds or more – doesn’t have same effect when tested with text.
Text and auditory together hinders understanding - e.g. reading bullet points off a slide
Your slides should enhance what you’re saying, not distract.
Your slides should NOT BE ABLE TO STAND ALONE- no handouts of your slide deck…
It would be the 4th largest country with a population of 500 billion people…
Balance Empty space Grid/rule of thirds Proximity Repetition – certain elements Contrast Alignment – aligning items together on the slide
How do you prepare, get psyched?
Barriers- lecturn, cords, table legs, etc. Lighting- keep lights on- helps connect with audience, see nonverbal cues Calmness but passion
TED.com – for ideas, especially about delivery Prezi.com Animoto.com
Find the Zen in Your Presentations
Find the Zen
in Your Presentations
Nicole McGee, Virginia Beach Public Library
November 3, 2010
Library's On-line resources,