Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Book Review of Presentation Zen

 Presentation Zen is a crash course in simplicity for speakers. Author Garr Reynolds offers a philosophical approach to preparation, design and delivery of presentations that is beneficial to both speaker and audience.

Reynolds has clearly attended more than his share of seminars. His description of endless streams of bullet-point riddled slides resonates with readers and draws them into the message of the book: simple is better.

Preparation is the theme of the first section of Presentation Zen. Reynolds encourages readers to get back to pen and paper in the idea stage and offers suggestions on ways to do so.

In the second section, design is the focus. Preventing “death by PowerPoint” is the goal here. Examples of slides are provided in side-by-side format to show how simplification or minor edits can maximize a message.

Connecting with the audience through good delivery is the book’s third main point. This portion does not create new speakers, but provides paths for improvement.

Genealogy speakers, writers and presenters can benefit from the message put forth in Presentation Zen. The lessons on slide design alone will enhance genealogy conference sessions and make sense of all the overwhelming information provided.

Critics will find fault with the book’s lean formula, and the $34.99 cover price makes it hard to argue. However, though the statements are basic, the lesson learned is a good one: less can be more and lead to better presentations. Reynold’s is true to the book’s point that audiences can only remember a handful of items in a given session. Presentation Zen delivers just enough to be valuable and expand readers’ thinking on the subject.

Presentation Zen is definitely a good read if you can find it on the library shelf. It’s not an essential genealogy book for your own personal collection, but can be a valuable asset to professional genealogists looking to enhance their own presentation skills. 

by Garr Reynolds
ISBN 13: 978-0321525659

[Disclosure: I did not receive a review copy of this book. I got it at the library. Libraries are good that way. Also, the link takes you to the Amazon web page for this book. It is attached to my affiliate account.]

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