Friday, January 2, 2009

Book Review - Slide:ology

If you ever need to give PowerPoint (Or Keynote) presentations, this book should be on your desk. Slide:ology, written by Nancy Duarte, is a well-designed and easily readable book that gives you an excellent overview on how to create great presentations. Hereby, the book focuses more on the generic concepts as slide:ology is not a dedicated step-by-step how-to book for using PowerPoint. Rather, it is more of a style book with highly inspirational qualities. In my opinion, the most valuable information gathered from the book is how it changed my way of thinking when preparing presentation slides.

I particularly liked the the chapter on color theory and typography; topics that are probably more often than not ignored by many professionals while preparing their slides. Another section that I thought was very good is ‘Classifying Diagrams’ starting on page 44. This section provides a library of graphical forms and shapes that give you a good starting point for designing your own illustrations.

The book is loaded with case-studies and examples that tie together all those theoretical pieces of information quite nicely. For example Nancy Duarte's company Duarte Design helped Al Gore with his influential presentation about global warming.

As mentioned above, the book is fairly neutral in terms of presentation software used. Occasionally it provides some tips for using e.g. PowerPoint, but Slide:ology is fairly high-level in that regard. If you are looking for a more hands-on guide to use PowerPoint, you may want to look elsewhere.

Slide:ology certainly emphasizes the creative aspects of creating presentations, which is a good thing. Notwithstanding, one recommendation for improvement would be to include a chapter for the time- and/or resource-constrained presenter. Let's face it - in many organizations/departments, it might be difficult to nearly impossible to get your hands on a first-class designer who churns out those nice looking graphics as shown in Nancy Duarte's book. In that regard it would have been nice to have a chapter that addresses that issue.

Lastly, slide:ology also has its own website at, which is essentially Duarte's company blog. Nevertheless, it contains a wealth of additional information and it is certainly a good companion to the book. Overall, I highly recommend this book. May it help reduce the vast amount of mediocre presentations out there.

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