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5 Steps to Conquer 'Death by Powerpoint'


Book reviews > 5 Steps to Conquer 'Death by Powerpoint'


Eric Bergman (2012). 5 Steps to Conquer 'Death by Powerpoint', Petticoat Creek Press


If you have not suffered 'death by Powerpoint' you have a treat coming. In the worst case, the presenter shows lots of slides full of text which they read to you in a flat monotone. They also use complex diagrams that make no sense. Sometimes they'll even flash up a slide and take it away before you've finished reading it. Overall, it seems it's all for the presenter and not for the bored and baffled audience.

This book is designed first to help presenters avoid the many traps of slide presentation. Perhaps surprisingly, it is also for audiences.

After a good discussion of the problems and assumptions that lead to poor presentations, the author proposes five key steps, each of which is addressed in a separate chapter and which makes up the bulk of the book:

  1. Put the audience first: It's really for them, after all. A good presentation is a good experience that is interesting, engaging and memorable.
  2. Structure the conversation: It's a conversation, not a presentation, facilitated through a structure that helps learning.
  3. Minimize visual aids: Visuals should stimulate, not bore.
  4. Convey your message and personality: As a part of the personal conversation.
  5. Answer questions throughout: As a part of the conversation, not at the end when much is forgotten.

There are interesting challenges in here, for example the view of a presentation as a conversation and using a maximum of only four words per slide. In addition, there are many useful and important suggestions, from truly understanding audience value to using the power of storytelling.

While there is much to recommend in this book, there are some limitations, for example the NLP-based assumption of learning styles being purely visual, auditory or kinesthetic. And as a book, it could perhaps have been designed more as a visual experience.

Overall, however, this book has much to recommend it and following Bergman's suggestions will without doubt significantly improve the presentations of most people.


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Eric Bergman, 5 Steps to Conquer 'Death by Powerpoint', Petticoat Creek Press, 2012 

An excellent book on communications that covers a wide range of communication topics. What sets this book apart is that it is founded on solid academic research. It is also clearly written and presented, making it a great book for students and practitioners alike. 



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