You do not like sitting through presentations, neither does your audience

People are natural born story-hearers. Huddled around campfires or across dinner tables, hearts and ears opened as messages were orally passed down from one generation to another. It was the storyteller’s craft to spin the story well. By skillfully weaving a resonating plot, audiences were engaged and inspired for centuries, without the help of technology.

These past 30 years have ushered in unprecedented communication technology: slide design software, video, audio. Yet, as we progressed, these innovations seemed to have pulled us away from well-crafted stories. This is especially apparent in business, where "death by PowerPoint" hits presentation audiences and leaves them devoid of any memorable experience.

The goal of this book is to reverse this phenomenon, and retrieve the spark of stories now to be handed down through slideshows that leave a mark on listeners. By fast-forwarding you through a process that took me half a decade to complete, you’ll become a skilled crafter of great presentations.

Starting as a computer science engineer, then moving on to strategy consulting with McKinsey & Company, I’ve reinvented myself as a creative professional. Now I design presentations for a living. I will share with you important insights gained through this transition, and let you in on the secrets that make presentations enjoyable and effective.

This books is not oriented at a specific software tool, to serve you as a manual would. Rather, you can apply the skill offered here to any program you use to create your presentation. Even better, this book ensures your audiences will wonder what software you used, evoking questions such as “Can PowerPoint create presentations like this?” A real compliment to any presentation designer.

Three common mistakes can be avoided

We’ll tackle three common habits that immediately give you away as an amateur presentation designer:

  • Amateurish slide design: poor choice of fonts, colors, and layouts. A few very basic design suggestions will have a great impact on how your slides look.
  • PowerPoint takes control: the software you used dictated the way you wrote your story. Technology should not hinder storytelling, only enhance it.
  • Blah, blah, blah: under the slightest stress of speaking in public, and we all tend to switch to a more formal language.

Audiences are best engaged when spoken to directly and articulately.

The good news is that these faults can easily be overcome. Together, we’ll improve your technical skill and discuss simple tips and tricks that dramatically impact any presentation.

But, most of all, I want to give you courage, and empower you to deviate from the common practices of presentation design. Your way of presenting things differently is not crazy, and people will not laugh at you. Originality and candidness are excellent yarn for knitting ideas together well, and conveying a lasting message.

While this book is written with sales and investor presentations in mind, its concepts are applicable for a broad range of slideshows. Whether you work in a two-person startup or a large multinational corporation, anyone can benefit from its contents. Great presentations leave your audiences elated and with a taste for more of what you have to offer. It is a memorable experience, to which this book offers key ingredients.

Nobody has ever blamed a presenter for finishing early. To reflect this, I’ve kept content short and very much to the point throughout the book. Instead of spending lots of time and pages on convincing you why certain presentation styles are bad, I focus on tangible and practical suggestions to make your presentations better.

Links to products in Amazon or iTunes that appear in this book are affiliate links, with retailers granting me a commission for purchases made from the book. This does not affect the price that you are charged for the products.

I hope you’ll find this book insightful, empowering you with the skill and courage you need to create great presentations. Everyone loves a good story, where information unfolds in a motivating and inspiring way. So share the message across, and reignite the essence of storytelling in the great presentations you’ll make from now on.

Tel Aviv, December 2012