Get full access to Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 2nd Edition and 60K+ other titles, with a free 10-day trial of O'Reilly.

There are also live events, courses curated by job role, and more.

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 2nd Edition

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 2nd Edition

Read it now on the O’Reilly learning platform with a 10-day free trial.

O’Reilly members get unlimited access to books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.

Book description

Best-selling author and popular speaker Garr Reynolds is back in this newly revised edition of his classic, best-selling book, Presentation Zen, in which he showed readers there is a better way to reach the audience through simplicity and storytelling, and gave them the tools to confidently design and deliver successful presentations. In this new edition, Garr gives his readers new, fresh examples to draw inspiration from, with a whole new chapter for those who present on more technical and educational topics based on techniques used by many presenters who give high-level talks at TED and other powerhouse events. Whether the reader is in research, technology, business, or education – this book will show them how to take what could look like a really dry presenation and reinvigorate the material in totally fresh (and sometimes interactive!) ways that will make it memorable and resonate with the audience. Staying true to the mission of the first), Garr combines solid principles of design with the tenets of Zen simplicity to help readers along the path to simpler, more effective presentations that will be appreciated, remembered, and best of all, acted upon.

Table of contents

  • Copyright Page
  • Table of Contents
  • Praise for Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, Second Edition
  • Acknowledgments
  • Foreword by Guy Kawasaki
  • The Presentation Zen Approach
  • Presentations Today
  • Presentation Generation
  • Presentations in the “Conceptual Age”
  • Start with the Beginner’s Mind
  • You Are Creative
  • The Art of Working with Restrictions
  • A Bike or a Car?
  • Paper, a Whiteboard, Post-it Notes, or a Stick in the Sand
  • Slowing Down to See
  • Asking the Right Questions
  • Two Questions: What Is Your Point? Why Does It Matter?
  • Handouts Can Set You Free
  • The Benefit of Planning Well
  • What Makes Messages Stick?
  • Story and Storytelling
  • The Process
  • Editing and Restraint
  • Steve Jobs and the Zen Aesthetic
  • Kanso, Shizen, Shibumi
  • Amplification Through Simplification
  • Presentation Design
  • General Design Principles
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio
  • Picture Superiority Effect
  • Empty Space
  • The Big Four: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity
  • Be Like Bamboo
  • Think Like a Designer
  • Differentiation
  • Shift Happens*
  • The Sustainable Food Lab*
  • Aromatic Chemistry
  • Presenting on Animal-Based Issues
  • My Declaration of Independence
  • Takahashi Method
  • Steve Jobs and the Art of the Swordsman
  • Learning from the Art of Judo
  • Contribution and Being in the Moment
  • Jazz, Zen, and the Art of Connection
  • Start Strong to Make a Connection
  • Project Yourself
  • Hara Hachi Bu: Why Length Matters
  • Emotions and Memory
  • Mirror Neurons
  • Power of the Smile
  • Stimulate Their Curiosity
  • Curiosity is Infectious
  • Engagement is Not About Tools
  • Remove Barriers to Communication
  • How to Improve
  • Markuz Wernli Saito
  • Introduction
  • Cover photo

Product information

  • Title: Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 2nd Edition
  • Release date: December 2011
  • Publisher(s): New Riders
  • ISBN: 9780132901529

You might also like

Presentation zen: simple ideas on presentation design and delivery.

by Garr Reynolds

FOREWORD BY GUY KAWASAKI Presentation designer and internationally acclaimed communications expert Garr Reynolds, creator of the …

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 3rd Edition

Garr Reynolds, author of the best-selling book on presentation design and delivery, is back with this …

Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations, Second Edition

Creating and delivering a successful presentation today often means breaking through the noise and allowing your …

Non-Designer's Presentation Book, The: Principles for effective presentation design, 2nd Edition

by Robin Williams

Robin Williams, teacher and designer, knows what it takes to give a good presentation. In this …

Don’t leave empty-handed

Get Mark Richards’s Software Architecture Patterns ebook to better understand how to design components—and how they should interact.

It’s yours, free.

Cover of Software Architecture Patterns

Check it out now on O’Reilly

Dive in for free with a 10-day trial of the O’Reilly learning platform—then explore all the other resources our members count on to build skills and solve problems every day.

presentation zen simple ideas

108 New Romance Recommendations for (Nearly) Every Kind of Reader

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

Garr reynolds.

229 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2007

About the author

Profile Image for Garr Reynolds.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think? Rate this book Write a Review

Friends & Following

Community reviews.

Profile Image for Alexander Fontana.

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

  • $32.99  $39.99 Save 18% Current price is $32.99, Original price is $39.99. You Save 18%.
  • SHIP THIS ITEM Qualifies for Free Shipping Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for delivery by  Thursday, February 22 Instant Purchase

Available within 2 business hours

  • Want it Today? Check Store Availability

Related collections and offers

  • Draw inspiration from fresh examples
  • Combine design principles with Zen simplicity
  • Create simpler, more effective presentations that will motivate your audiences

Garr offers techniques for cutting through the noise and distractions of modern life and truly engaging with your audiences in a meaningful way.

"Presentation Zen changed my life and the lives of my clients. The philosophy and approach so elegantly explained in Garr's book will inspire your audience. Don't even think of giving another presentation without it!"

—Carmine Gallo, author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and Talk Like TED

"Garr has broken new ground in the way we think about the power of presentations, and more important, has taught an entire generation of communicators how to do a better job. Don't miss this one."

—Seth Godin, legendary presenter and author of This is Marketing

"If you care about the quality and clarity of your presentations—and you should—pick up this book, read every page, and heed its wisdom. Presentation Zen is a contemporary classic."

—Daniel H. Pink, author of A Whole New Mind and Drive

Product Details

About the author, table of contents.

  • What People Are Saying

What People are Saying About This

"Garr is a beacon of hope for frustrated audiences everywhere. His design philosophy and fundamental principles bring life to messages and can invigorate careers. His principles of simplicity are as much a journey of the soul as they are restraint of the mouse."--(Nancy Duarte, CEO, Duarte Design)

"Presentation Zen is just fantastic. Best of all it's not another recipe book about "how to make slides" - this is about re-imagining how your entire presentation will work together as a persuasive and integrated show, from conception through delivery. Awesome."--(Merlin Mann, 43folders.com )

Related Subjects

Customer reviews, related searches, explore more items.

Harry Potter Paperback Box Set (Books 1-3)

Secure Checkout

Create account

presentation zen simple ideas

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 3rd edition

  • Garr Reynolds

Your access includes:

  • Search, highlight, notes, and more
  • Easily create flashcards
  • Use the app for access anywhere
  • 14-day refund guarantee

$10.99 /mo per month

Minimum 4-month term, pay monthly or pay $43.96 upfront

Looking for your MyLab or Mastering eTextbook? Find it here Opens in an new tab

Learn more, spend less

presentation zen simple ideas

Listen on the go

Learn how you like with full eTextbook audio

presentation zen simple ideas

Find it fast

Quickly navigate your eTextbook with search

presentation zen simple ideas

Stay organized

Access all your eTextbooks in one place

presentation zen simple ideas

Easily continue access

Keep learning with auto-renew

  • Table of Contents

Published by New Riders (June 22nd 2021) - Copyright © 2020

ISBN-13: 9780137460618

Subject: Business Communication

Category: Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

Your questions answered

What's pearson+, what's an etextbook, how does the 4‑month etextbook subscription term work, how does etextbook auto‑renew work.

When you purchase an eTextbook subscription, it will last 4 months. You can renew your subscription by selecting Extend subscription on the Manage subscription page in My account before your initial term ends.

If you extend your subscription, we'll automatically charge you every month. If you made a one‑time payment for your initial 4‑month term, you'll now pay monthly. To make sure your learning is uninterrupted, please check your card details.

To avoid the next payment charge, select Cancel subscription on the Manage subscription page in My account before the renewal date. You can subscribe again in the future by purchasing another eTextbook subscription.

What's Channels?

Does channels replace my textbook, how do channels subscriptions work, how does channels auto‑renew work.

When you purchase a Channels subscription it will last 1 month, 3 months or 12 months, depending on the plan you chose. Your subscription will automatically renew at the end of your term unless you cancel it.

We use your credit card to renew your subscription automatically. To make sure your learning is uninterrupted, please check your card details.

We will keep fighting for all libraries - stand with us!

Internet Archive Audio

presentation zen simple ideas

  • This Just In
  • Grateful Dead
  • Old Time Radio
  • 78 RPMs and Cylinder Recordings
  • Audio Books & Poetry
  • Computers, Technology and Science
  • Music, Arts & Culture
  • News & Public Affairs
  • Spirituality & Religion
  • Radio News Archive

presentation zen simple ideas

  • Flickr Commons
  • Occupy Wall Street Flickr
  • NASA Images
  • Solar System Collection
  • Ames Research Center

presentation zen simple ideas

  • All Software
  • Old School Emulation
  • MS-DOS Games
  • Historical Software
  • Classic PC Games
  • Software Library
  • Kodi Archive and Support File
  • Vintage Software
  • CD-ROM Software
  • CD-ROM Software Library
  • Software Sites
  • Tucows Software Library
  • Shareware CD-ROMs
  • Software Capsules Compilation
  • CD-ROM Images
  • ZX Spectrum
  • DOOM Level CD

presentation zen simple ideas

  • Smithsonian Libraries
  • FEDLINK (US)
  • Lincoln Collection
  • American Libraries
  • Canadian Libraries
  • Universal Library
  • Project Gutenberg
  • Children's Library
  • Biodiversity Heritage Library
  • Books by Language
  • Additional Collections

presentation zen simple ideas

  • Prelinger Archives
  • Democracy Now!
  • Occupy Wall Street
  • TV NSA Clip Library
  • Animation & Cartoons
  • Arts & Music
  • Computers & Technology
  • Cultural & Academic Films
  • Ephemeral Films
  • Sports Videos
  • Videogame Videos
  • Youth Media

Search the history of over 866 billion web pages on the Internet.

Mobile Apps

  • Wayback Machine (iOS)
  • Wayback Machine (Android)

Browser Extensions

Archive-it subscription.

  • Explore the Collections
  • Build Collections

Save Page Now

Capture a web page as it appears now for use as a trusted citation in the future.

Please enter a valid web address

  • Donate Donate icon An illustration of a heart shape

Presentation zen : simple ideas on presentation design and delivery

Bookreader item preview, share or embed this item, flag this item for.

  • Graphic Violence
  • Explicit Sexual Content
  • Hate Speech
  • Misinformation/Disinformation
  • Marketing/Phishing/Advertising
  • Misleading/Inaccurate/Missing Metadata

[WorldCat (this item)]

plus-circle Add Review comment Reviews

8 Favorites

Better World Books

DOWNLOAD OPTIONS

No suitable files to display here.

IN COLLECTIONS

Uploaded by station31.cebu on October 15, 2021

SIMILAR ITEMS (based on metadata)

presentation zen simple ideas

  • Business & Economics
  • Communication & Psychology

Buy new: $48.50

Other sellers on amazon.

Kindle app logo image

Download the free Kindle app and start reading Kindle books instantly on your smartphone, tablet or computer— no Kindle device required .

Read instantly on your browser with Kindle for Web.

Using your mobile phone camera, scan the code below and download the Kindle app.

QR code to download the Kindle App

Image Unavailable

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

  • To view this video download Flash Player

Follow the author

Garr Reynolds

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery Paperback – 17 December 2007

Purchase options and add-ons.

  • Book Description
  • Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

About the author.

  • Part of series Voices That Matter
  • Print length 240 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher New Riders
  • Publication date 17 December 2007
  • Dimensions 18.42 x 0.64 x 22.86 cm
  • ISBN-10 0321525655
  • ISBN-13 978-0321525659
  • See all details

Frequently bought together

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

Customers who viewed this item also viewed

Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations

Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ New Riders; 1st edition (17 December 2007)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 240 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0321525655
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0321525659
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 18.42 x 0.64 x 22.86 cm
  • 2,505 in Running Meetings & Presentations
  • 4,958 in Workplace Communication
  • 7,270 in Communication & Social Skills (Books)

About the author

presentation zen simple ideas

Garr Reynolds

Garr Reynolds is an internationally acclaimed communications expert, and the creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net: presentationzen.com. A soughtafter speaker and consultant, his clients include many in the Fortune 500. A writer, designer, and musician, he currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Management at Kansai Gaidai University in Japan. Garr is a former corporate trainer for Sumitomo Electric, and once worked in Cupertino, California as the Manager for Worldwide User Group Relations at Apple, Inc. A longtime student of the Zen arts and resident of Japan, he currently lives in Osaka where he is Director of Design Matters Japan.

Customer reviews

Review this product.

  • Sort reviews by Top reviews Most recent Top reviews

Top reviews from Australia

Top reviews from other countries.

presentation zen simple ideas

  • Corporate Information
  • Press Releases
  • Amazon Science
  • Protect and build your brand
  • Independently Publish with Us
  • Sell on Amazon
  • Drive with Amazon Flex
  • Advertise Your Products
  • Associates Program
  • Host an Amazon Hub
  • COVID-19 and Amazon
  • Your Account
  • Your Orders
  • Delivery Rates & Policies
  • Returns & Replacements
  • Manage Your Content and Devices
  • Recalls and Product Safety Alerts
  • Netherlands
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Amazon Advertising
  • Amazon Web Services
  • Conditions of Use & Sale
  • Privacy Notice
  • Interest-Based Ads Notice

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

presentation zen simple ideas

Summary of “Presentation Zen”: Due to a general misunderstanding of what makes a good presentation, most PowerPoint or Keynote presentations are utterly sleep-inducing nowadays, with slides filled with text and bullet points repeating exactly what the speaker says, and packed with images that overlap with the page background; this book gives us all the ingredients for a simple, clear and powerful presentation for the audience.

By Garr Reynolds , 225 pages, 2008.

Chronicle and summary of “ Presentation Zen”:

Garr Reynold is a designer and marketing professor living in Japan, as well as the blogger of the popular, Presentation Zen, which, since 2005, has been offering methods, ideas and thoughts on the different ways to deliver a quality presentation to an audience.

This book is both a natural extension and a deepening of his blog. Its form, spacious, filled with images , highlighting some presentations designed for the web, including articles by guest authors, is reminiscent of a blog. In fact, this is the first book I have the opportunity to read that seems to be a mix of a traditional printed book and a blog, which produces a fairly good result.

The foreword by Guy Kawasaki perfectly summarizes the interest and the reason behind Presentation Zen :

So, most presentations made using computer-assisted presentation software such as PowerPoint or Keynote are bad: long, ugly, boring and meaningless.

However, even though many people hate these tasteless and sleep-inducing presentations, today most presentations are inconceivable without slides made with presentation software . For most people, giving a presentation without slides is like giving it without clothes; they would feel the same either way. Therefore, everyone feels compelled to make slides, but unfortunately, these slides often don’t add something of value, but rather they’re a series of indigestible bullet points supplemented with images that are clearly there to fill a void .

Should we give up PowerPoint?  Not really. The ideal, on the contrary, is to learn how to make good use of it.

This includes understanding these basic principles:

  • Projecting in the form of text the same information that is communicated orally does not help convey the message, on the contrary .
  • A good oral presentation is not the same thing as a well-written document and trying to merge the two by making a PowerPoint presentation that can serve both as an oral and written medium is the surest way to make a hybrid that fails in both areas .
  • Many multimedia presentations are mediocre nowadays; it only takes a few small improvements to stand out .
  • There is no miracle recipe and each presentation is a unique case, but adopting a Zen approach helps to avoid the most common mistakes and to focus on the essence: getting the message out to the public .
  • Presentations must tell a story that is enhanced by the image and are more like watching a documentary than reading a written document.

Chapter 2: Creativity, limits and constraints

Creating a presentation is a highly creative activity . We are all, to varying degrees, creative beings. No need to hang out in the trendy arts circles. Even NASA’s engineers are creative (watch the Apollo 13 movie and understand the treasures of creativity and ingenuity that the engineers had to deploy to help save the three astronauts in distress).

Zen emphasizes the beginner’s mind, in which there are infinitely more possibilities than in the expert’s:

The practice of the Zen mind is the beginner’s mind. The innocence of the first question, what am I?, is necessary throughout Zen practice.

The beginner’s mind is empty, free from the habits of the expert, ready to accept, to doubt, and open to all possibilities . It’s the kind of mind that can see things as they are, which, step by step and in a flash, can capture the original nature of everything. It is the practice of the Zen mind.

  • ShunryuSuzuk

When approaching a task with the fresh mind of the beginner, the fear of being wrong, of making a mistake fades.

We will never be creative if we don’t take risks .

There are many ways to stimulate your creativity, such as working under stress, being idle, cultivating your enthusiasm for a subject, and many more – you can discover by reading my review of The Creative Habit .

For example, the Pecha Kucha is a concept of presentation created in 2003 in Tokyo, and then spread all over the world (the Paris club page is here and the Montreal club page here ). The idea is simple: each participant must project 20 slides for 20 seconds as he/she tells a story in sync with the visuals, which scroll automatically, for a total of six minutes and forty seconds. Then it’s over.  This time limit allows for concise, to the point presentations .

presentation zen simple ideas

Note: you can see an example of a Pecha Kucha presentation here .

Creativity is therefore essential when preparing a presentation, so as not to be locked in the humdrum of a paralyzing habit. Moreover, it’s important to keep in mind three essential notions during this preparation:

Chapter 3: First draft on paper

It’s important in the initial stage of preparing a presentation to get away from the computer . Spending all your time thinking and preparing in front of the screen is the surest way to miss the big picture and to not identify the core message .

The main pitfall of “all-computer” design is that we allow ourselves to be misled by the wizards and templates offered by the software, taking us places where we don’t always want to go.But as Steve Jobs said 20 years ago, “the computer is like a bike for the mind”, which means it’s important to pedal and you shouldn’t rely on the power of a computer as you would on that of a train. The best software doesn’t hinder us or force us in any direction, it helps us amplify our skills and ideas .

We can use different tools to jot down our initial ideas, such as pencil and paper, white board or post-it notes. It’s important not to rush – and therefore to slow down – and not to hesitate to isolate ourselves in order to stimulate our creativity .

Once you are alone, pen in hand, relaxed and with a serene mind, visualize the presentation you will soon be doing , then write down the answers to the following questions:

  • How much time do I have?
  • At what time of the day will I be speaking?
  • Who is my audience?
  • What is their background?
  • What do they expect of me?
  • Why was I asked to give the presentation?
  • What reaction do I expect from the audience?
  • What visual medium will be most appropriate for this particular situation and audience?
  • How is the conference room arranged?
  • What is the fundamental purpose of my talk?
  • What is my story about?

And finally, the most important question of all:

What is the message that I wish to convey?

Or: if the audience should only remember one thing, what do I want it to be ?

Moreover, the objective of the PowerPoint presentation means a lotto its final look: too many presenters make up a PowerPoint presentation which must both serve as a support for the oral presentation and as written support to be distributed to the public.  This is a crucial mistake . You need three separate documents:

  • The slides that the public will see
  • The notes that only you will see
  • The printed notes to hand out

So, you can use the best of each medium rather than trying to make a bad hybrid as a whole. This will prevent you from making slides that are overloaded with text, which you will feel compelled to read during your presentation.

Chapter 4: Creating a story

Once you have a clearer vision of the presentation’s content and its main subject, the next step is to establish the presentation’s structure , defining how the ideas will flow. When the main message and the secondary messages follow one another logically, our words come out more naturally and are easier for the audience to follow .

The ideal for this is to make sure your messages stick. But how do you do this? By using in particular the 6 principles of the book, Made to Stick , which, as a reminder, are:

  • Unexpectedness
  • Concreteness
  • Credibility

For the details of each principle, I invite you to read or reread the book review.

It’s often very important to illustrate your presentation with one or more sincere stories , with an interesting and clear beginning, engaging and provocative content in the middle, and a clear conclusion. Our brain is programmed to forget everything it doesn’t perceive as vital and necessary for our survival. So even though our conscious knows the importance of reading and understanding the physics textbook to pass the next exam, our brain tells us that it’s boring, uninteresting and unimportant for our survival. However, our brain loves stories , perhaps because the stories told by the first humans able to talk were the first vehicles for transmitting the information necessary for our survival.

One of the most important criteria for a successful story is sincerity.  Don’t hesitate to talk about the mistakes that you or your company have made.

There are 4 steps when preparing the presentation:

  • Brainstorming . Write down everything that comes to mind, without a computer, trying to take a step back and get an overview.
  • Grouping and identifying the core message . It’s about identifying the only important and memorable idea from the point of view of the audience. Group together similar ideas while looking for a general theme.
  • Creating the storyboard without a computer (optional step). Take the notes obtained in step 2 and put them on post-its. Another solution is to print empty slide pages – twelve per page – to be completed by hand.
  • Storyboard creation in Slider Sorter view (PowerPoint)/ Late Table view (Keynote).

presentation zen simple ideas

Storyboard creation in Light Table view

To learn how to master story creation in Slide Sorter mode, the author recommends the book, Microsoft PowerPoint: Beyond Bullet Points by Cliff Atkinson .

An important detail in creating a story and a storyboard is to be restrained and to not hesitate to cut out anything superfluous: always bring everything back to the central message .

Chapter 5: Simplicity – Why It Matters?

There is a fundamental misunderstanding about simplicity and what it means to be simple today. Simple is often confused with simplistic, which means neglecting and glossing over the difficulties, which ends up producing pure lies. Politicians are often guilty of oversimplification.

However, being simplistic and being simple have nothing in common. True simplicity is not the result of laziness or ignorance, it comes from an intelligent desire for clarity that gets to the essence of something , and it’s not easy to do. Here, simple is used as synonymous with clear, direct, subtle, essential and minimalist. It’s the Zen way of being simple.

An excellent way to understand the impact of simplicity in a presentation is to compare the presentations of Steve Jobs (Apple CEO) and Bill Gates (former CEO of Microsoft) when they present the products of their company. Often, the slides used by Steve Jobs contain, at most, one or two lines of text and especially an image that illustrates what he is saying . The slides used by Bill Gates are often modeled on PowerPoint’s default slides: filled with bullet lists, and therefore overused text. And when images are used, they are often complex and incomprehensible.

Compare for example this presentation of the iPhone by Steve Jobs:

Note in particular the simplicity of the slides used by Steve Jobs

And this presentation by Bill Gates about a new technology for Outlook:

The visuals used by Steve Jobs are an essential part of his presentation, but they don’t have a major impact to the detriment of the speaker . Jobs uses slides to tell a story and interacts with them in a natural way, rarely turning his back to the audience.

Therefore, simplicity is important, and provides more clarity, but it’s not easy or simple to get. The very notion of simplification lies in the idea of carefully eliminating the non-essential : when designing slides, keep in mind the concepts of 1) subtlety 2) grace and 3) understated elegance.

Thus, it’s important not to use garish colors, excessive gradations, tacky images, and not too many bullet points, colors and elements. Good designs start with a lot of empty space.  Think subtract rather than add .

The risk is that by trying to be simple we make it too simple. It is up to us to find the right balance for our particular situation.

Chapter 6 – Slide composition: principles and techniques

When Garr Reynolds arrived in Japan in the 1990s, he was surprised to find that Japanese businessmen often used the term “case by case” when discussing future events or strategy. At first it bothered him because he thought it was a hollow phrase, used especially as a cop-out. Today, he understands that it’s an expression of wisdom .

Thus, without a good knowledge of the place, the circumstances, the content and the context of a presentation, it’s difficult to judge whether something is appropriate or inappropriate, let alone whether it’s good or bad. There is no definite method for slide design because it is as much art as science .

Nonetheless, there are some essential principles, fundamental concepts shared by many of the simplest and most effective slides:

A common misconception about design is to believe that it’s something to add at the end, like decoration on a birthday cake. However, the design is not a graphic overlay, it’s something essential that comes in right from the start , and that is used to organize the information in order to clarify things. It is also a means of persuasion.

Signal-to-noise ratio (SNR)

It’s the relationship between the relevant elements and the irrelevant elements in a slide. The more superfluous elements are in a slide (the noise), the more difficult it will be to perceive the core message (the signal).

presentation zen simple ideas

Two slides illustrating 1) a signal-to-noise ratio in favor of the noise, on the left, and 2) a signal-to-noise ratio in favor of the signal, on the right. The left and right slides present the same information, but which one do you think the audience will more likely understand and remember?

In particular, it’s important to avoid as much as possible 3D graphics , which are often difficult to comprehend, to avoid having the logo of the company or the ubiquitous product on every page – having it on the first and last slide is enough (Do you start each sentence by stating your name?) – and again avoid overusing bullet points.

Picture superiority effect

Pictures are better remembered than the words: research shows that after a 30-second delay, their recall is much higher than it is for texts . Therefore, it’s important to use the picture superiority effect to improve the recognition and recall of important information. To achieve this, it’s necessary for the pictures to reinforce as much as possible the words and are part of the signal rather than noise .

To understand this, consider three examples of slides with the same information (72% of part-time workers in Japan are women):

presentation zen simple ideas

Here, the clipart used, in addition to being overused, has nothing to do with the statistics presented. The background is a classic PowerPoint background – and it’s also overused – which reduces the visibility of the text.

presentation zen simple ideas

Here it’s a little better, but the clipart used is cheap and the whole of it doesn’t provide a strong visual impact and doesn’t give it a very professional look.

presentation zen simple ideas

Here we have a slide with a strong and professional visual impact that presents the information in a precise and powerful way.

Displaying quotations on a slide, unlike bullet points, has some effect. Quotes from a famous person or reference can help support your point.

Text within images

When using a quote, it is best to put it with an image . However, rather than putting a small picture with the quote below or above it, use an image as large as the slide in the background, and insert the quote in an empty space.

Empty space

The empty space, or negative space, is a concept of extreme simplicity but one of the most difficult to apply. When designing a document or a slide, most people succumb to the irresistible urge to fill in all the empty spaces.

But the empty space brings elegance and clarity, and a precise role: it gives the design air and lets the positive elements breath .

The four pillars:

Contrast means difference, and our brain, still programmed by genetics to be on the alert for predators in the Savannah, is designed to note the differences. So, when we enter a room, we notice its scent(if it is different from where we’re coming from), then we don’t smell it anymore. Visually, the contrast is what strikes the eye, and in our slides, the differences must be clear , not subtle.

presentation zen simple ideas

First and foremost, we identify what is in contrast with the environment. Here, it’s the pink tree that catches our eyes first. However, it’s only one tree among a dozen others. If it had been a green tree that stood in the middle of a dozen pink trees, it would have been first noticed…

Photo by  alordelo

It’s possible to establish a contrast in many ways, by:

  • The manipulation of space (near and far, empty and full)
  • The choice of colors (dark and light, hot and cold)
  • Text formatting (font with and without serif, bold and normal)
  • The position of the elements (above and below, isolated or grouped)

The repetition of certain elements in a slide or series gives a clear impression of unity and consistency. The use of a template provided by a preparation software guarantees unity thanks to the presence of the same background and the same type but be careful not to overdo it and not to use templates that have been seen time and time again.

This principle means that nothing in a slide should look like random placement . Each element is connected to another via an invisible line. The repetition aims to create consistency in a set of slides, while the alignment aims to achieve unity among the elements of a single slide . So, when you place elements in a slide, try to align them with another element.

According to this principle, related elements must be grouped so that they appear as a set instead of independent elements. The audience easily identifies items close to each other as belonging to the same group.

And finally, do not forget:

The more visually striking the presentation is, the more people will remember it. And more importantly, they will remember you. – Paul Arden

Chapter 7: Examples of slides: images and text

Here are some examples of quality presentations, which are not necessarily perfect. And without context, it’s difficult to judge its impact in real life. What these presentations have in common is that they are simple and visually striking.

The Sustainable Food Lab by Chris Landry

Sustainable Food Lab

View more presentations from Chris Landry .

This presentation is used by Chris Landry to present his organization of which the goal is to preserve the food industry. It contains more text compared to the original in order to be comprehensible by itself.

Truemors by Guy Kawasaki

View more presentations from Guy Kawasaki .

This presentation was used by Guy Kawasaki to explain how, with just $ 12,107.09, he launched a user-run citizen journalism Web 2.0 website (of which the French equivalent is Agoravox ).

The Science Of Presentations by Kevin Gee

The Science Of Presentations

View more presentations from Kevin Gee .

A presentation clearly designed to be a support for a talk about the art of making good presentations…

Note: you can find many other presentations on Slideshare and see especially the most popular .

Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated – David Bader

Chapter 8: A question of presence

If we try to maintain a conversation or conduct an interview with someone and the person doesn’t give us their full attention, it bothers us. Yet we are used to having presenters who are not fully engaged with their audience and subject. One of the most important things for a successful presentation is to be 100% present at that moment.

One of the most basic things Zen teaches is mindfulness . But our mind is often occupied by a thousand worries, distracted from the present by past or future problems. Meditation is an excellent remedy for this permanent distraction and allows us to realize that our actions and our judgments are in general only automatic responses resulting from an internal dialogue . Through it, we can be free to detach ourselves from such judgments. So instead of hating to do the dishes, we can do the dishes. When we’re writing a letter, we write it. And when we’re giving a presentation, we’re doing it for good.

Note: I have been practicing meditation since February following my reading and my review of The Art of Meditation and I agree wholeheartedly with the author’s view. Meditation allows, in a breathtaking way, to become aware of our inner dialogue and of the non-stop murmuring that our brain creates. And to become aware of it ultimately allows us to be less distracted by it, making it easier to focus on the present moment.

Charismatic presenter

The perfect example of the charismatic presenter with a presence on stage is Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple whose iPhone video above you have seen. He was a smooth communicator; his visuals were always striking and perfectly synchronized with what he would say. He would seamlessly scroll his own slides, without even a noticeable gesture. It all seemed so automatic and natural for him. But you would be wrong if you thought this talent came to him naturally and was due to his exceptional charisma.

When Steve was on stage, he was an artist, and like any artist, he perfected his form and technique through practice and experience . And as an artist who has practiced a lot, there was no thought of technique or of form, nor of success and failure when he was on stage. It sounds paradoxical, but as soon as we think of technique or success and failure, we have lost, just like a sword fighter can die at any second because of a distracting thought. To be present, we must be in a state of flow , being completely immersed in what we do, as Steve Jobs did.

Note: you can watch many other videos of Steve Jobs on the Apple website or on YouTube . You can even find old videos from the 80’s like the presentation of the Macintosh in 1984. At the time PowerPoint and video projectors did not exist.

This state of flow is due to having an empty mind, of “abandoning it without being abandoned”. You have to get rid of the obtruding ego consciousness but also, as Suzuki says “…as if nothing special was taking place at the moment.”

The best advice for presentations can come from unexpected sources, such as the following five principles:

  • Observe carefully : carefully observe your situation,carefully observe others, and carefully observe your environment.
  • Take the initiative in everything you undertake.
  • Take all the elements into account, act decisively .
  • Know when to stop .
  • Stay in the middle .

These wise words that seem to be from a presentation book are actually Jigoro Kano’s five principles of judo. It’s easy to imagine how these precepts can be adapted to presentations.

Remember that the ideal is that you work seriously while not taking yourself too seriously. By acting in such a way, you will lighten up the others and put them at ease with your humor.

Chapter 9: Connecting with the audience

Consistent content with a logical flow is important, as we have seen; but it is also necessary to establish a connection with the audience. We have to appeal to both the logical and emotional side of the audience members.

The first principle is that if our subject deserves to be talked about; then we must put energy and passion into our presentation . Every situation is different, but there is never an excuse to be dull and tasteless. It is therefore useless to show restraint: if the subject fascinates us, we must show it .

In addition, it’s also important not to give too much away to the audience. In fact, it’s better to not say enough , in reasonable proportions, leaving the public eager to know more, than to give too much away, leaving the audience stuffed and feeling that they have had more than enough.

A common mistake in presentations is to turn off the lights as soon as the presentation starts. It may have been mandatory at a time when the power of video projectors was insufficient to display an image; other than in the dark, but this is no longer the case today. Keeping the lights on allows both the audience to see you and keep a connection with you; and it’s up to you to see the audience and measure their temperature by using the subtle reactions you hear.

Finally, eliminate all obstacles between you and the audience : avoid the use of a desk if possible; use a wireless microphone and a remote control for the slides to move seamlessly and freely (we still see all too often people who are forced to go back to their computers in order to scroll through their slides).

Book critique of “ Presentation Zen” by Garr Reynolds:

Pleasantly formatted and filled with images, this book contains a substantial amount of valuable content. In a simple way; by offering both easy-to-apply practical tips and theoretical concepts that will take time to be further developed; Garr Reynolds provides the perfect handbook for a successful presentation . The subject may seem narrowly focused, and it may be; but this book is an absolute must for anyone who is required to give presentations; frequently or occasionally, as it will help avoid the many pitfalls that emanate from 99% of presentations. Moreover, this book doesn’t at all focus on preparation software technology; but on the spirit of successful presentations , which somewhat protects it from the obsolescence that characterizes all books dealing with computer science.

As the author says, most presentations are so mediocre that the application of a few tips and principles will help you stand out. And in this way, even if you only apply a small part of the methods; tips and advice offered by this book, you are sure to do better than the average person .

In terms of its flaws, I sometimes found it to be somewhat superficial; not going far enough in the discussion or the topics covered. However, that is also what helps it to be accessible and to get to the point.

I do recommend it. Once you have delivered your first presentation and have had the opportunity to make an impression and to convey your message more effectively, you will realize that the small investment of this easy-to-read book was well worth it. A nice and practical book.

Strong points of the book Presentation Zen :

  • Graphically pleasing.
  • Easy to read and well-illustrated with picture examples.
  • Contains both practical tips that are easy to apply and theoretical concepts to further develop.
  • Articles by well-known personalities (Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, etc.).
  • Focuses on the spirit of the presentation, not on PowerPoint or Keynote technology, which makes it rather timeless.

Weak points of the book Presentation Zen :

  • A bit superficial at times.
  • A somewhat narrowly focused subject.

Presentation audience slide

Have you read “Presentation Zen”? How do you rate it?

Read more reviews on Amazon about “Presentation Zen”

Buy on Amazon “Presentation Zen”

One thought on “ Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery ”

  • Pingback: How to make GREAT Powerpoint Presentations - Zen Presentation - Books that can change your life

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of follow-up comments by email.

Notify me of new posts by email.

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.

IMAGES

  1. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 3rd

    presentation zen simple ideas

  2. PRESENTATION ZEN , SIMPLE IDEAS ON PRESENTATION DESIGN AND DELIVERY

    presentation zen simple ideas

  3. Presentation Zen: 6 Steps to Design Great Slideshows • Tekiota

    presentation zen simple ideas

  4. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by

    presentation zen simple ideas

  5. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    presentation zen simple ideas

  6. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by

    presentation zen simple ideas

VIDEO

  1. Zen Unreal Video Presentation

  2. Zen Garden

  3. ZEN Vlog #4

  4. Zen corner

  5. Creation Zen

  6. Zen Garden

COMMENTS

  1. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter): 9780135800911: Business Communication Books @ Amazon.com Books › Business & Money › Skills Enjoy fast, free delivery, exclusive deals, and award-winning movies & TV shows with Prime Try Prime and start saving today with fast, free delivery Kindle $17.27

  2. PresentationZen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    PresentationZen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter): 8601419413515: Business Communication Books @ Amazon.com Books › Business & Money › Skills Enjoy fast, free delivery, exclusive deals, and award-winning movies & TV shows with Prime Try Prime and start saving today with fast, free delivery Paperback

  3. PDF Presentation Zen, 2nd Edition: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery Second Edition Garr Reynolds New Riders 1249 Eighth Street Berkeley, CA 94710 510/524-2178 510/524-2221 (fax) Find us on the Web at: www.newriders.com To report errors, please send a note to [email protected] New Riders is an imprint of Peachpit, a division of Pearson Education

  4. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and ...

    ISBN-13: 9780137460618. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. Published 2021. Need help?

  5. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 3rd

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 3rd Edition [Book] Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 3rd Edition by Garr Reynolds Released December 2019 Publisher (s): New Riders ISBN: 9780135897751 Read it now on the O'Reilly learning platform with a 10-day free trial.

  6. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery 1st

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery Garr Reynolds Part of: Voices That Matter (141 books) There is a newer edition of this item:

  7. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery [Book] Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Released December 2007 Publisher (s): New Riders ISBN: 9780321550163 Read it now on the O'Reilly learning platform with a 10-day free trial.

  8. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 2nd

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 2nd Edition by Released December 2011 Publisher (s): New Riders ISBN: 9780132901529 Read it now on the O'Reilly learning platform with a 10-day free trial.

  9. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery . 2019. Skip Abstract Section. Abstract. Garr Reynolds, author of the best-selling book on presentation design and delivery, is back with this newly revised edition of this classic book, Presentation Zen. Showing us there is a better way to reach your audience through simplicity ...

  10. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery - Garr Reynolds - Google Books View sample Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery Garr...

  11. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design a…

    Presentation designer and internationally acclaimed communications expert Garr Reynolds, creator of the most popular Web site on presentation design and delivery on the net — presentationzen.com — shares his experience in a provocative mix of illumination, inspiration, education, and guidance that will change the way you think about making prese...

  12. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    Garr Reynolds. New Riders, Nov 21, 2019 - Business & Economics - 336 pages. Garr Reynolds, author of the best-selling book on presentation design and delivery, is back with this newly revised edition of this classic book, Presentation Zen. Showing us there is a better way to reach your audience through simplicity and storytelling, Garr tackles ...

  13. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, Enhanced Edition Garr Reynolds Pearson Education, Dec 17, 2007 - Business & Economics - 240 pages This enhanced e-book...

  14. Presentation Zen

    Ideas and patterns are easier to see when they are up on the wall or spread out on the table. (2) ... the 3rd edition of Presentation Zen. How to give a remarkable presentation online ... Better Presentations is a simple, well-written, visual book that is useful for students, teachers, and other academics, as well as for anyone who needs to ...

  15. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter) 3rd Edition, Kindle Edition by Garr Reynolds (Author) Format: Kindle Edition 4.6 249 ratings See all formats and editions Kindle $15.39 Read with Our Free App Paperback $22.50 - $32.99 12 Used from $22.50 20 New from $23.74

  16. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    Garr Reynolds is the bestselling author of Presentation Zen, Presentation Zen Design, and The Naked Presenter, and a leading authority on presentation design and delivery.A sought-after speaker and consultant, his clients include many in the Fortune 500. An award-winning writer, designer, and musician, he is currently Professor of Management and Communication Design at Kansai Gaidai University ...

  17. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, 3rd

    Category: Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. Show more Overview. Your questions answered. What's Pearson+? Pearson+ is your one-stop shop, with eTextbooks and study videos designed to help students get better grades in college. What's an eTextbook?

  18. Presentation zen : simple ideas on presentation design and delivery

    Presentation zen : simple ideas on presentation design and delivery by Reynolds, Garr. Publication date 2012 Topics Microsoft PowerPoint (Computer file), Business presentations, Multimedia systems in business presentations, Business presentations -- Graphic methods -- Computer programs

  19. PDF 152 Presentation Zen

    six of Presentation Zen: Simple Sample pages from Chapter Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery by Garr Reynolds On this page you can see five samples of simple slides in which elements were arranged with the help of the "rule of thirds" grid (you can easily create your own using the guides in Keynote or PowerPoint).

  20. [PDF] Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and

    Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery G. Reynolds Published 4 January 2008 Education, Computer Science TLDR Balancing the principles of design, the tenets of Zen simplicity, multimedia and cognitive learning theory, along with practical advice from the field, the book is a visual and instructional tour d'force. Expand

  21. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    This item: Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery . $62.45 $ 62. 45. Get it 6 - 14 Sep. Only 1 left in stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon US. + Leadership And The New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World. $44.55 $ 44. 55. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).

  22. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    Garr Reynolds Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery (Voices That Matter) 1st Edition, Kindle Edition by Garr Reynolds (Author) Format: Kindle Edition 4.5 396 ratings See all formats and editions Kindle $15.39 Read with Our Free App Paperback $10.38 - $21.33 Other new, used and collectible from $1.31

  23. Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery

    It's the Zen way of being simple. An excellent way to understand the impact of simplicity in a presentation is to compare the presentations of Steve Jobs (Apple CEO) and Bill Gates (former CEO of Microsoft) when they present the products of their company. Often, the slides used by Steve Jobs contain, at most, one or two lines of text and ...