Slideology is a book from 2008 about PowerPoint. It is well-structured, thoughtful, and a massively influential book in the “presentation business”. It makes a whole lot of sense to me and is quite easy-to-read. Nancy Duarte has been doing this for 20+ years and makes some crazy good points. After listening to a podcast interview, you will agree she is also very witty, big-hearted, and fun. Listen here.
Plan to do 3 blog posts on this 1 book, so give me feedback – tell me how you like this blog format (deep dive into 1 book). Worth borrowing from your library or buying here. (affiliate link) You will note that the used book prices are still 45-50% of the new price – which means people are holding on to their copies, not selling them. All the quotes shown in italics blue font are from Nancy Duarte.
Why this matters. Some clients (even consultants) glibly remark that PowerPoint is nothing more than making slides “pretty”. As if clipart can save you . . . Arrgh. No. It is not an artistic expression, not an eccentric quirk, not stylistic preference. You will find that in Slideology, there are 50+ common sense reasons to do things a certain way. You gotta distill a clear message, understand the audience, and deliver it well. Know WHY you are presenting. If you have 200 people in a room, ensure it is time well spent. That is 200 hours x $300 average bill rate = $60,000 talk.
“Making bad slides is easy, and it will negatively impact your career”
The PowerPoint slides should assist your message – not be your message. As any good marketer will tell you – it’s all about the customer. Jump outside your self-centered perspective. It’s now what you are trying to tell them, but the connection you make with them. It’s for them, not for you.
“We groan when we have to attend to a meeting with the slide deck as the star”
Don’t clobber your slides with text. Duarte notes that people will either be reading your slides or listening to you – not both. Also, please DO NOT READ your slides.
From Seth Godin, quoted in the book, “If all you want to do is create a file of facts and figures, then cancel the meeting and send in a report.” Yes, yes, yes. Most meetings are a waste of time, and often disrespectful of the audience’s time.
Good PowerPoint slides involves rigorous thinking, preparation, and hopefully, meaningful communication. If you are in the story-telling and persuasion business (e.g., consulting, sales, marketing, executive decision making), then you should rock at written, verbal and visual communication. It takes deliberate practice.
“The amount of time required to develop a presentation is directly proportional to how high the stakes are”
Duarte estimates that a 30 slide ppt for a 60 minute presentation will take between 36-90 hours of thinking, creation, editing and rehearsal. So 1 hour presenting requires 36x-90x of preparation time. To me that sounds about right. What do you think?