This is the 3rd edition of this very successful and well-known book. Cliff Atkinson was one of the first major presentation experts to talk about ridding slides of bullet points and with the 1st edition of the book, he launched a revolution in slide design.
Beyond Bullet Points is not only a book; it is a system of creating PowerPoint presentations. Cliff provides you with a template and step-by-step instructions. He also provides plenty of evidence that his system is based on research.
No other book that I know of spends as much time on the topic of crafting your content–organizing it, fine-tuning it and optimizing it. There are 3 chapters on content alone. He then goes on to graphics and delivery, making the book a very complete presentation guide.
The author’s system involves the following steps:
- Choosing a story thread using the classic 3-act structure
- Deciding what is most important and putting it first
- Creating a storyboard (sketches of each slide), then designing the slides themselves
He recommends slides that have a simple heading plus an image, using visuals to highlight a presentation’s organization, and presenting information in bit-size pieces. Here’s a figure from the book that explains Cliff’s basic principles of slide design:
Here are a few nuggets that I found useful:
- Use slide layout to highlight the organization of your content. That means, use the same layout and look for your main points but use a different layout for your subsidiary points.
- Have versions of your presentation suitable for 15 minutes, 30 minutes and 45 minutes, let’s say, in case you need to make adjustments at the last minute due to time constraints
- Use Slide Sorter view to visualize the organization of your presentation
- Use Notes view to place what you will say in the Notes area and as a basis for handouts
If you would like a complete system to help you through the entire process of creating, designing, and delivering a presentation, I highly recommend this book. Even if you don’t want to take on a complete system, you’ll learn a lot!