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Book Review: 15 Minutes Including Q&A

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Book Reviews 153

brothke writes "When I initially read 15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World From Lousy Presentations, I enjoyed it and thought it was a good book. It was only a few days later, sitting through yet another tedious vendor briefing, when I reread it and truly appreciated how awesome a book it really is." Read on to see what Ben has to say about this book.Author Joey Asher's premise is quite simple and intuitive: if you as a salesperson (or anyone trying to get a message across) can't state your case simply and succinctly, no one is going to get it or care. He notes that a major problem is that far too many salespeople and speakers waste their time on areas they think is important; but not on what the attendee wants to hear.

Asher notes that every day, businesspeople bore listeners with presentations that ramble on, make no clear points and fail to address the attendee 's key concerns. His book lays out a plan for eliminating lousy presentations.

The introduction asks the basic question, why do most presentations stink? The answer Asher gives is that they ramble on, fail to make any points, try to say so many things that they become unwieldy PowerPoint death stars with no impact and ignore key audience concerns.

Asher's answer to the problem is this: keep the presentation short; leave ample time for Q&A and work to get a compelling dialogue and interaction with the attendees. That is the premise of the first two chapters.

The book is divided into 3 sections. Part 1 is about preparing a seven-minute rifle shot presentation. In essence, tell your entire story in about seven minutes. While counter-intuitive at first; the book shows how this can be achieved.

The focus of chapter 3 is to start by focusing on key business challenge. Asher warns against starting a presentation by giving a bunch of background information about the approach. In addition, don't tell the history of the project or do anything other than shine a light on the attendee 's key problems. He suggests using short stories to succinctly illustrate the issue. Just think of how many presentations you have been in where the speaker did not get to the point until 25 minutes and 20 slides into the presentation.

Chapter 11 is titled creating slides to support your message. The book astutely notes that preparing presentations has to a large part become an exercise in preparing PowerPoint slides. The reality is that it should be an exercise in figuring out how to tell your story. Asher notes that if you want to use slides well, you should only prepare your slides after you have figured out the story that you plan to tell your audience. The failure of many presentations is that the PowerPoint drives the story and not the other way around.

Part 2 is about allowing listeners to fill in the blanks and raise questions with Q&A.Asher suggests in chapter 12 to make Q&A a major part of your presentation strategy. He notes that Q&A allows the audience to guide the message and fill in missing information. It also gives the speaker the chance to persuade by responding to objections. And finally, it improves the speaker's communications style.

While he may not realize it, Asher has uncovered what is the Achilles heel of many project problems and failures. It is that the salesperson sells an obtuse problem to a clueless customer who is oblivious to what they want or how they are going to deploy the solution.

The beauty of Q&A is twofold: first, it requires the salesperson to clearly articulate what they are selling, and the customer to articulate what their specific problems are. The answer should be a clear understanding of the issue and how the product can solve it. But the reality is that many companies will deploy expensive hardware or software solutions (often costing millions of dollars) without really understanding why they are embarking on such a venture.

The book concludes with part 3, on delivering the presentation with intensity. Part 3 moves away from the PowerPoint and into areas such as eye contact, voice energy, rehearsal and other important points. These are critical areas as even the best presentation delivered without intensity can turn into a fruitless endeavor.

While the title 15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World From Lousy Presentations may border on hyperbole, the reality is that the term death by PowerPoint is a real problem. The book shows a clear path in which to stop that. At 104 pages, Asher writes like he talks, clearly, succinctly and to the point. For many people, it is only after reading this important book when they will truly understand how much of their lives are wasted in by viewing pathetic PowerPoint's and listening to rambling sales monologues.

The truth is that Asher's points don't have to be limited to PowerPoint presentations exclusively. Be it e-mail messages, memos, status reports, proposals and more; if you can get to the point, and get your point across, you are often more likely to succeed.

At $7.95, the book is about as inexpensive as they get, which means you can also give ample copies to numerous people in your organization. In fact, it should be required reading to anyone who will be using PowerPoint and giving presentations.

Ultimately, the value of 15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World From Lousy Presentations is best summed up by Scott Leslie who suggests that one keep extra copies of this book in their briefcase at all times. Next time you re forced to listen to someone laboriously narrate bullet points, quietly slip a copy in the presenters briefcase without them noticing and sign it: "Thought you might enjoy reading this. That way, maybe your audience will enjoy your next presentation. "

Ben Rothke is the author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know

You can purchase 15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World From Lousy Presentations from amazon.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (4, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711316)

If it's one thing that almost every presenter needs to learn, it's the power of brevity.

If you're putting more than 50 words on a slide, you've fucked up.

If you're putting more than 30 slides in a presentation, you've fucked up.

Unless you audience is highly technical and specifically looking for a highly in-depth presentation, you should never be violating those two rules.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711348)

That was way too long! Your entire post can be summed up in 4 words:

"Nice guys finish fast"

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711398)

And I think even the 50 words rule is too generous myself. I would keep it to half that.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (4, Funny)

moonbender (547943) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711556)

I presentations shorter by all the verbs.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711596)

Life is short. Use Abbrevs.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35712390)

Life is too short already. Don't abbreviate it!

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

cobrausn (1915176) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712462)

I don't get it. How does shortening 'Life' to 'Lf' make it longer?

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

Hultis (1969080) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711866)

you accidentally words there.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711906)

TL;DR

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35712148)

+1

ADverbs (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713130)

Eliminating adverbs works better.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

kasper37 (90457) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712618)

"Nice guys finish fast"

I guess that's why nice guys never get the girl.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (2)

Microsift (223381) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712896)

That's not what she said

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711356)

Your title could be improved by just saying "brevity" once.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (0)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711370)

True

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (0)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712508)

True

1

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35712960)

Except that, when you want someone to follow your presentation, you tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em, tell it to 'em, then tell it to 'em again (==overview, content, summary).
Not that this would be a reason to say "brevity, brevity, brevity"---that would just be to accentuate a point ("developers, developers, chairtossers")

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712410)

No, make it a catchy marketing buzzword, like "B3" or "b-cubed"!

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (2)

hawkeyeMI (412577) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711450)

Usually if you're putting more than *5* words on a slide, you really better be able to justify it.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (3, Funny)

utoddl (263055) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711668)

Yeah, but fewer than 5 should be left-aligned.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (0)

hawkeyeMI (412577) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711878)

Mod parent funny.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (0)

DemingBuiltMyHotRod (836463) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712394)

+1

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711698)

If you're using slides, you better be able to justify it.

FTFY

If you really know your topic, you don't need slides, just a whiteboard, marker, and an audience who wants to ask questions.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711776)

That assumes you have the skill/talent of being able to write and/or draw legibly on a whiteboard. I certainly do not have that talent.

I can't read my handwriting -- I certainly don't expect other people to be able to read it.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711870)

I used to think that way, but these days I like slides as a way of keeping myself accountable and making it easier for my audience to follow. Some people have a really hard time following long blocks of speech. Plus, previously I was making short lists of points to hit anyways, so putting them down on slides isn't really that much trouble.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712044)

Well, that assumes a whiteboard and marker are available.
Also, the nice thing with slides is that you can make nice pictures which would be quite time-consuming to draw by hand (and unless you are very good in drawing, might end up quite messed up).

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35712348)

There speaks someone who doesn't give presentations to non-native-speakers of his language.

I've learned that slides should never omit the CONNECTIVES -- things like "and", "or", "but", "therefore". There's a strong temptation to omit them and make slides with only the key noun phrases, and led the audience pick up the connectives by listening to you. But foreign audiences don't pick up the connectives well enough just by listening.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712398)

If you're using slides, you better be able to justify it.

Okay, I'll bite. Presenting your information in multiple formats (i.e. verbal and visual) reinforces the material for different types of learners. Charts and graphs are also handy for people who can't visualize numbers. Good slides won't save a bad presentation but they can improve upon a good one.

Verify your saying you are a programmer TomHudson (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35713334)

You said you're a programmer here many times. So let us try your work and see it so we can verify it then. I saw a thread here recently where you bragged about a program you say you wrote that has 50,000 users (relatively small amount really). So prove it, show us and let us try it, since you said you need or, rather demand, verifications and proofs of others. If you don't then you're just doing your pot calling the kettle black crap you have already been seen doing.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

stillnotelf (1476907) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711548)

If you're putting more than 50 words on a slide, you've fucked up.

You know, most people say "pictures, pictures, pictures" instead of words on Powerpoint slides. At an exchange rate of 1000 words/picture, you shatter this rule pretty fast...

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (2)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711574)

If it's one thing that almost every presenter needs to learn, it's the power of brevity.

Seriously. I mean, I bought the book-on-tape version of this, and it was way more than 15 minutes. And no Q&A. I mean, seriously, WTF?

:-D

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

or-switch (1118153) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711588)

At my company, unfortunately, powerpoint presentations at team meetings are pretty much the only way key data get presented and recorded. Some of it's in the database, but because these slides will often be referred to in perpetuity, without consulting the author, there need to be lots of words to make sure the message is clear. While that may be fine internally, too many people have gotten in the habit and their external presentations are way to heavy and wordy. Gotta be flexible depending on your aims.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711728)

As my high-school English teacher used to say: "Be brief, be concise, and be seated".

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713008)

I guess my math teacher learned the blue collar version of that: "stand up, speak up, and shut up."

50 Words? (1)

lax-goalie (730970) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711798)

"If you're putting more than 50 words on a slide, you've fucked up."

50? Seriously? Unless you're showing a screenshot, listing some code, or pulling a quote, the magic number is seven. In general, if you have more than seven words on a slide, you've fucked up.

More than that, and the presenter is usually just reading the Powerpoint deck. And in that case, why are you wasting my time, when you could have just emailed it to me in the first place?

Re:50 Words? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711904)

In general, if you have more than seven words on a slide, you've fucked up.

So you're looking for something like:

Fire bad!
Money good!

Re:50 Words? (1)

Heshler (1191623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712028)

Seven words is for the verbose! More than two words and you've fucked up! I'm so hardcore!!!!!

Re:50 Words? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35712300)

Three letters.

Re:50 Words? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713026)

Three letters.

Ah, I see you're trying to avoid four-letter words.

Re:50 Words? (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712352)

Seven words is for the verbose! More than two words and you've fucked up! I'm so hardcore!!!!!

Both parent and GP had more than

Re:50 Words? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712096)

And in that case, why are you wasting my time, when you could have just emailed it to me in the first place?

An accurate summary of 99% of the time I've spent in meetings over the past decades.

Re:50 Words? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712226)

Unless you're showing a screenshot, listing some code, or pulling a quote, the magic number is seven.

Seven words? Seriously? How many slides per minute are you doing?

Or maybe you don't have the relevant information on the slides. But then, why have slides at all? They are not helpful then.

More than that, and the presenter is usually just reading the Powerpoint deck. And in that case, why are you wasting my time, when you could have just emailed it to me in the first place?

Because I was asked to do a presentation :-)

Re:50 Words? (3, Insightful)

element-o.p. (939033) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712476)

Word count matters not.
Present yourself in haiku.
Concepts are retained.

Re:50 Words? (1)

lax-goalie (730970) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712732)

+ 1.

Well played, sir, well played.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

Happler (895924) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711966)

At the same time, in-depth info should be made available on request. Too many times have people built slide decks as the whole of their presentation and totally forgot that there are some people who either by want or need, will request much more info then can be presented in a deck or during the Q&A.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

Synn (6288) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712080)

Woah, woah, woah. Way too many words. I was like "What?" and then I was like "Huh?" and then, uh, I got a little bored. Something about slides?

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

Phreakiture (547094) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712158)

I disagree on 30 slides. I use an approach that I call "Turbo power point" in which I will rip through that many slides in under two minutes. It does get, and hold, the attention of the audience, but it violates the arbitrary limits you have set.

I agree with the 50-word limit, though. In fact, I would recommend that the slide should contain either (and only) a picture, by itself (perhaps with something to highlight a specific thing in the picture) or a heading and three bullet points.

Animation is optional, and should be used with extreme discretion. To that end, I only ever use the "fade" effect, and always with the speed set to "very fast" so it isn't wasting a lot of the viewers' time.

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35713134)

Maybe I am strange, but it made me wonder why the reviewer did not put the review in presentation style according to the book's guidelines. From there, I began to wonder why the author wrote a book and not a presentation. Then I remembered this:
http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/

Re:Brevity, Brevity, Brevity!! (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713492)

Unless those 50 words are not actually spoken and those 30 slides aren't packed with words.

In the world of PowerPoint presentations, you have to remember that those presentations are almost always requested by those in the audience as *notes*. If there's not enough information on those slides, then those will be bad notes. If there's not enough slides to fully describe your topic, then, again, they're bad notes.

amp amp amp (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711340)

15 Minutes Including Q&A: A Plan to Save the World From Lousy Presentation

Your comment violated the "postersubj" compression filter. Try less whitespace and/or less repetition in the subject line.

15 Minutes Including Q&amp (1)

bieber (998013) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711346)

I think you might have a little bit of an output escaping bug there, /.

Nothing of a value in this book (-1, Troll)

bcmm1 (2033630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711436)

You rather want to read: How to ruin a presentation to save you and your time from buzzwords [freeblogspot.org]

Re:Nothing of a value in this book (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711612)

Goatse man is not amused.

Re:Nothing of a value in this book (1)

bcmm1 (2033630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711898)

Nether 236 (as of time of the writing) slashdotters that got goatse in their face are... Sure you all have seen it, but it is still annoying....

Re:Nothing of a value in this book (1)

bcmm1 (2033630) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712086)

256 victims now - that's just perfect

I also recommend Brian Tracy (1)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711482)

Brian Tracy has a series of lectures about exactly that point (selling).

If you list the good features of your product no one will care. Worse, no one will give you the 10 minutes you need to describe the product.

Example1:

a) Our copier can produce 40 pages per minute
b) ...has a 500 GB disk
c) ...has networking capabilities
d) ...can sort, collate, and staple

If you put the product in terms which are advantageous to the listener (usually money), then you spark their interest.

Example2:

Mr manager, if you purchase our copier you can reduce your costs by $2000 per month.
Would you like me to explain how?

It's obvious when you think about it.

Re:I also recommend Brian Tracy (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711620)

If you put the product in terms which are advantageous to the listener (usually money), then you spark their interest.

Mr. Manager, I can reduce your cost by $5000/month. My copier doesn't do 40 pages per minute, it has no disk, it has no networking capability, and it cannot sort, collate, or staple.

It is a cardboard box. Your users lay their originals on top, wait ten seconds, and then walk away with the originals.

This saves you money on paper needlessly used. It shuts down one major method of employee theft of intellectual property. It doesn't waste people's time waiting for the copier to warm up before it can copy. It saves you in both clerical (filing) time and waste management.

I'll make a fortune. And I have the patent already. Does anyone want to subscribe to my newsletter?

Re:I also recommend Brian Tracy (1)

AchilleTalon (540925) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711894)

Mine is twice as fast as yours, you just wait 5 seconds and go away with the originals.

Re:I also recommend Brian Tracy (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711948)

I'm suing you for patent violation, and I just patented an improvement where you don't even have to have an original. I'm calling it the "Psychic Copier".

It does require your employees to remove their tinfoil hats, however. My research department is working on a solution...

Re:I also recommend Brian Tracy (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711702)

Mr manager, if you purchase our copier you can reduce your costs by $2000 per month. Would you like me to explain how?

You have to be careful not to boil it down too far though. I know you were just making a point, but if you open a sales presentation like that you are likely to sound like an "as seen on TV" direct seller.

Some buyers like to feel smart, and in those cases it can help to simply demonstrate what it is about your product that makes it special and let them make the link to how it will save money/time/trees/headlight fluid. You're guiding them there of course, but it can help to let them think they made the link.

Re:I also recommend Brian Tracy (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711716)

Mr manager, if you purchase our copier you can reduce your costs by $2000 per month.
Would you like me to explain how?

Why would anyone want to do that?

Re:I also recommend Brian Tracy (1)

hubie (108345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712696)

For your example 2, it depends. I see many clicks that tell me how I can save 15% on my car insurance, but I ignore them.

Unless you are in a working session (1)

captaindomon (870655) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711492)

Brevity is important if you are trying to communicate decisions that have already been made and cannot be questioned, or if you are doing a sales presentation for a product that cannot be altered as part of the contract. If you're trying to work with a group (for example, Test, Development, and Build/Release) to make a decision that everyone can support, trying to be too quick about it will destroy any progress possible. Same if you have a highly customizable product you are trying to sell while gaining information from your customer.

Re:Unless you are in a working session (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711706)

As a part of my current coursework I've been doing a fair number of presentations. And brevity isn't really the goal. A better focus is making sure every slide gets you closer to the goal of communicating the whole topic you're covering. Limiting yourself really to no more than about 3 slides or so without involving the audience and cutting down on extraneous information that interferes with the flow of information. And really every slide should have a reasonable and identifiable connection to the talk.

Powerpoint can be quite useful, but most of the problems are with it being used for things other than illustration and keeping on point. I'm sure there's other uses, but use it for other things at your own peril.

Re:Unless you are in a working session (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711916)

As a part of my current coursework I've been doing a fair number of presentations. And brevity isn't really the goal.

You're absolutely right. Clear communication is the goal. Brevity can help that, but is not the goal itself.

Shooting for brevity risks leaving out or glossing over key information. Perhaps a better way way to think if it would be shooting for conciseness (that word should be concisity, it sounds truthier).

Brief (1)

khr (708262) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711564)

suggests that one keep extra copies of this book in their briefcase at all times

I've never owned a briefcase, you insensitive clod!

Re:Brief (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711674)

...then where do you keep your underwear?

Re:Brief (1)

VirginMary (123020) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712156)

...then where do you keep your underwear?

How do you know that he even owns underwear, you insensitive clod?

Treadmill To Oblivion - Fred Allen (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711602)

Hard to come by, but not impossible or expensive - radio comedian Fred Allen's Treadmill To Oblivion covers the workings behind a radio show in the 1950's. Plan to do a show in 30 minutes, have some ideas, write them down, rehearse, remove what doesn't work, add in what would work better. Comedy or business, it's about getting the attention and holding it, you've got about 20 minutes before people start to fidget and look for a clock. It's better to test on an audience before going live, particularly an honest one who will tell you what your are missing - never overlook the obvious, what IS your point here?

I'm sure the book is great, but tightening up a show for a fixed amount of time is a pretty old science by now.

tl;dr (1)

scrib (1277042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711638)

Isn't the book's title a pretty good "executive summary" of the book itself? How do you fluff that out to 104 pages?

Re:tl;dr (2)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712006)

Some people need to be told to shut the fuck up about a hundred times before they get it. Motivational and style-type books are an exercise in repeatedly showing you why you're an ass. Sure everyone says "be brief," but I have so much shit to cover, and what do you mean no one cares? After a dozen examples, explanations, and breakdowns, you start to see a pattern of "that's a great pitch!" "Oh... that's really annoying, and nobody gives a shit about anything except the last 2 paragraphs here..."

Presentation Zen (2)

snowbart (1361345) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711650)

Also: Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. Including pretty pictures!

tl;dr (0)

srussia (884021) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711672)

n/t

succint (2)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711752)

It's harder to write short, succint points. It's much easier to ramble, especially because a lot of people equate long and wordy points with being smart. Orwell ranted about the problem. [pickthebrain.com]

Re:succint (1)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711808)

As succinctly as possible: fuck this, more coffee.

one (maybe more) virgin births in jerusalem? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711764)

can't get much wackier. not any of those unproven 'revirginated' birthings for the chosen ones. look out easter bunny? no way. epic. the babys & natives appear totally unsurprised, even at this news? read it & sleep? faq to follow. 15 billion years condensed into 400 pages of nonclear (really) fatal total fantastical fiction, repeated as needed.

review too long (0)

beernutmark (1274132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711818)

can I get a summary of the review. Too long to read.

Re:review too long (2)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712964)

can I get a summary of the review. Too long to read.

Let's try to condense:

brothke immediately liked the book, but only later truly appreciated it.

The main message of the book is to talk simply and succinctly, or no one cares. But business people usually fail to do so. The introduction asks why, and says it's because their talks are not to the point and too long, and they ignore the audience. Asher's answer is to make short talks and to interact with the audience.

The book has 3 sections. Part 1 says to talk only seven minutes, to not give unnecessary information, and that your slides should follow your story, not the other way round.

Part 2 tells you to plan for Q&A in order to fill in missing information and better communicate. Asher uncovers that the main problem often is sales persons selling obtuse solutions to clueless customers without caring for their needs. Q&A forces the salesperson to be clear about the product and the customer to be clear about his problems.

Part 3 speaks about things like eye contact, voice energy and rehearsal, which are critical for a good presentation.

The title may border on hyperbole, but the problem is real, and the book gives a solution on 104 pages. It is well written and gives the reader important insights.
Asher's message isn't really limited to PowerPoint presentations, but can be applied universally.

The book only costs $7.95 and is a must-read for everyone. Scott Leslie suggests to carry a copy with you and smuggle it into the briefcase of anyone giving a bad talk.

A woman's skirt. (4, Insightful)

LoudMusic (199347) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711902)

Anything presented to an audience should have the same characteristics as a woman's skirt.

Long enough to cover all the important details.
Short enough to keep our attention.

I actually heard that the first time from my apparently gay college english teacher. *shrug*

Re:A woman's skirt. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35712090)

... and if you need to see more, it should be easy to look up?

Don't forget Tufte.. (2)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711936)

The Cognative Style of Powerpoint Essay
* http://www.edwardtufte.com/tufte/books_pp [edwardtufte.com]

Also

PowerPoint Does Rocket Science--and Better Techniques for Technical Reports
* http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0001yB&topic_id=1 [edwardtufte.com]

Re:Don't forget Tufte.. (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711964)

Had I really been on the ball I would have titled my post - "Because I'm Rough and Tufte with my Afro Pufftes"

Missing the point (1)

Chemisor (97276) | more than 3 years ago | (#35711946)

While these are all good points for a technical presentation, say, at a conference, they are not applicable to a sales presentation. Describing exactly what your product does is precisely what a good salesman wants to prevent. The reason for that, of course, is that if that were to happen, the customer would realize he does not need it, or that he can already get it cheaper elsewhere. "But my product is great!" I hear you saying; well, if it were, you wouldn't be giving a sales presenatation about it. You'd be too busy packing and shipping orders.

Powerpoint (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35711972)

Makes us stupid

~Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps~

Stupid is when you start (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712170)

A sentence in the title and carry on in the body, but for some reason capitalize the first word in the latter so the body looks like a sentence but isn't.

- Forrest Gump

6x6 Rule (briefly) (1)

benjto (1175995) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712130)

As a rule of thumb:

  • No more than six points per slide
  • No more than six words per point

review, too long (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35712188)

for a book that emphasizes brevity and clarity.

Tedious Vendor Briefings, Continued (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712254)

The can't be that awesome if he still has to endure tedious vendor meetings in spite of it. May I suggest a Gameboy and a pair of discrete earphones instead?

Re:Tedious Vendor Briefings, Continued (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712304)

The book can't be that awesome....

Re:Tedious Vendor Briefings, Continued (1)

SleazyRidr (1563649) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713224)

If you read chapter 4, you'll find out that leaving out a few words here and there is a great way to make your presentation more concise. You were already advanced in this area, and didn't even realise it!

If PP has to shrink the font, you are too wordy (1)

sirwired (27582) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712378)

For far too many PowerPoint presentations, the presenter has apologized with "sorry this is an eye chart." If you have to apologize for it being too small, you are doing something very wrong. If there is any supplemental detail you'd like to provide, stick it in either a report or slide notes. (I routinely deliver 15-slide presentations backed by a 40-60 page report stuffed with the relevant technical detail; it works WAY better than a 60-slide presentation with the details right there in the slides.)

My general rule of thumb is to go to the next slide if PP has to shrink the font size.

Also, don't use complete sentences; complete sentences means that either your audience will either be reading the slides and not listen to you, or if you are a really lousy speaker, you'll start reading the slides. Nothing makes me tune out a presenter faster than one who reads his/her slides. I can read WAY faster than you can talk, and it means that I'm simply going to read your slide, and then ignore the words rambling out of your mouth until the slide changes.

And for goodness sake: Dump animations and slide transitions. They usually add nothing other than a lousy presenter waiting for them to finish before speaking again.

Lastly, Death to Clip Art and Stock Photography! It's usually easy to spot a mile away, and again adds nothing to your presentation.

Re:If PP has to shrink the font, you are too wordy (1)

DamonJW (1416653) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713106)

Also, don't use complete sentences; complete sentences means that either your audience will either be reading the slides and not listen to you, or if you are a really lousy speaker, you'll start reading the slides.

I think you should use complete sentences in Powerpoint slides. Many presenters use sentence fragments, or even just lists of nouns -- but to get your story across, what really matters are the verbs, especially the "modal" verb phrases like "I claim that ..." or "everyone agrees that ..." or "in order to achieve X we must ...". Sentence fragments and noun-lists, on the other hand, are only useful as crutches to the speaker, to help him remember his talking points. Or, in Powerpointese,

  • Complete sentences
    • Sentence fragments bad
    • Noun-lists too
    • Verbs important
      • Modal verbs v. important
      • Story conveyance
  • Sentence fragments
    • Speaker's crutch

Re:If PP has to shrink the font, you are too wordy (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713204)

Actually there's something between complete sentences and pure noun lists.

For example:

Full sentence:

N is even, therefore N^2 is a multiple of 4.

Noun list:

N even
N^2 multiple of 4

What I'd put on the slide:

N is even
=> N^2 is multiple of 4

It's not the complete sentence (e.g. adjectives are removed, also "therefore" is replaced by "=>"), but it's also not just a noun list (the logical structure is still visible).

Re:If PP has to shrink the font, you are too wordy (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713386)

err ...

adjectives are removed

should of course have been "articles are removed"

Re:If PP has to shrink the font, you are too wordy (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713140)

My general rule of thumb is to go to the next slide if PP has to shrink the font size.

PP shrinks the font size by itself? Man, I'm glad that I'm using LaTeX with the beamer package for my talks ...

Amp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35712484)

15 Minutes Including Q&A

Knuth only got 9/10 (1)

whyde (123448) | more than 3 years ago | (#35712916)

Knuth's Volume 4 only got 9/10 recently, obviously because it is soooooooo wordy.

Out of stock (1)

Gramie2 (411713) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713042)

And the book is out of stock at amazon.com, and doesn't exist at amazon.ca. How am I supposed to buy it again?

Stop using PowerPoint. (1)

NetJunkie (56134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713340)

If you can help it, stop using PowerPoint. I do a lot of user group and technology evangelization presentations and I'm doing my best to stop using PP. Sometimes I don't have a choice as I can't control the presentation system (large presentations like VMworld, for example). But when I can I'm using Prezi. It really breaks you out of that bullet point process. You throw your talking points and ideas out on a "canvas" and build your thoughts from there. After making the move I've gotten a LOT of positive feedback on it. Even if you can't use Prezi you can get out of bullet points. When having to use PP I stick to a "conversational" style presentation. Very few bullet points and statements, graphics, simple sentences, etc. The slide is about a thought, not a list of points.

Thanks for the review. I'll grab a copy of this as well.

43 Folders has good stuff on presentations (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 3 years ago | (#35713440)

I tend to prepare an elevator pitch of what I want to say, then decide how I bring it best in context with the audience, and after that I will create / find any images if I think they will help (if it's not technical you should think about images as setting the audience's mood).

In my experience, people really pay attention if you mention you have set yourself the task of making your point in 15 minutes or less - it's fun to start a session with a self-imposed challenge, and it keeps questions at bay until you hit Q&A. What's more, 15 mins worth of material you can keep in your head, so you can focus on your audience instead of reading slides..

BTW, nobody ever complained about a presentation being too short. Instead, they will actively seek you out afterwards to ask questions - you don't have to seek them out. Everyone wins..

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