Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Review of a great book: The Visual Slide Revolution by Dave Paradi

I enjoy reading Dave Paradi’s PowerPoint Blog. So far he has a series of 48 videos of PowerPoint Slide Makeovers. Just recently I finally got around to reading his first book, The Visual Slide Revolution which is subtitled Transforming Overloaded Text Slides into Persuasive Presentations.

This is a great book! Before I read it I had bought both Garr Reynold’s Presentation Zen, and Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology. Both those very pretty books are by designers who discuss their Design Philosophies. Dave’s book is not as pretty or as long as either, but it is as useful. He is not a designer, rather he’s is a professional speaker with an MBA (and before that a Bachelors degree in Chemical Engineering). Dave is more concerned with tactics than grand strategy, and what is effective rather than what is pretty.

In Chapter 2 he states that:

“A visual slide is not the absence of text – it is the presence of a visual that encourages a conversation with the audience.”

Then Dave describes a five-step method for producing effective visual slides, where KWICK is an acronym for:

Key point
Words that suggest the visual
In context
Crystal clear
Keep focus

In chapter 3, Key point, Dave says that once you find the key point of a slide you need to write a headline to describe it. A headline is not a title. A title is a few words that might hint at the topic but doesn’t describe the meaning. A headline is a 6 to 10 word sentence (that will fit on two lines) and clearly states the key point for the audience. He gives 14 tips on how to write clear headlines. After I read his advice I went back and looked at some of my presentations. Too often I had title rather than headlines, because I blindly followed that less than useful PowerPoint template which says both to:

“Click to add title” and “Click to add subtitle”

In Chapter 5, In context, he provides specific advice on choosing effective visuals for presenting different types of information. Some of these are shown in the following table:

When judged by content rather than its appearance, this is a great book. It’s only 151 pages long, and just has 73 black-and-white visuals. Harvey Schachter of the Toronto Globe and Mail also gave it a glowing review, and then put it on his Top Ten List of business books for 2008 at #9.

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