Speaking PowerPoint: The new language of business, by Bruce Gabrielle is an important book. Why do I say that?
- It covers “boardroom presentations” exclusively. These in-house business presentations are undoubtedly the most common type of presentation given today. It doesn’t cover sales presentations, “ballroom presentations” (keynote speeches, conference sessions) or training presentations.
- Bruce has studied and included 40 years of relevant research. This is a huge effort and benefit.
- The book is exhaustively complete on the topic of content and design. The author doesn’t cover delivery techniques, except for handouts.
Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review. I’m embarrassed to say that I received the book many months ago and am only now getting around to writing the review.
The book has 3 sections:
- Story: Here, Bruce explains how to prepare and organize your content in great detail. You can’t read this section without understanding the importance of thinking about what you really want to say, analyzing your “above-water argument,” and figuring out how to prove your point. He also covers storyboarding, a process that I teach as well.
- Slide: In this section, the author covers how to write a slide title, how to limit the amount of informatino on a slide, the persuasive power of pictures, and how to create briefing decks, discussion decks and reading decks.
- Design: Here Bruce covers color, managing audience attention, aesthetics, and finally charts and tables.
Throughout, Bruce threads stories of managers who need to present, usually on marketing proposals, and how they coach their subordinates to improve their slides. This storytelling technique makes the book more lively. He also provides lots of visual examples, including before and after slide sets.
The compilation of research that the author used to back up his points is impressive. You’ll learn a lot.
Nevertheless, I did disagree with Bruce in one case and I suppose it’s because I place a different emphasis on certain research. As a result, I don’t agree with the amount of text on a slide that Bruce deems acceptable (except for “reading decks,” which are printed out and read, but which don’t involve an oral presentation). But, if you do want to put a lot of text on a slide, you’ll find out how to “chunk” it and arrange it for maximum results.
There’s no question about it–boardroom presentations would be a lot better if all business presenters read this book. It’s the kind of book that Training Managers should be handing out to all employees who do in-house presentations.