In some sense, we’re all salespeople.
Whether you’re a teacher trying to excite your pupils for Shakespeare’s work… whether you’re a therapist wanting to move your clients to a healthier lifestyle… whether you’re a father and want to get your kids to keep their room tidy… or whether you’re in the office, trying to convince clients or your boss to go with your ideas…
We’re all consistently trying to “sell” our ideas and conceptions to others. And usually, we don’t even ask ourselves the most important questions:
What is the quintessence of what I want? Why is it important? And how can I best communicate it?
These three simple questions are at the basis of “Presentation Zen” by Garr Reynolds. *
On first glance, “Presentation Zen” is all about improving your PowerPoint presentations in an office setting. But as with a lot of things, this first glance is somewhat misleading… There’s a lot more inside this book than a simple guidebook on good slide presentations – among other things, it contains a few important concepts we all should internalize to become better “salespeople” in our everyday life.
(Side note: I’ve bought the German version of Presentation Zen, the better to share it with some people around me. From what I can see, though, the German and the English version are pretty much identical in content and also in design. Apart from the language, of course… 😉 )
But before I tell you more about these concepts, let me quickly introduce the main idea of the book…
In “Presentation Zen”, Garr Reynolds applies the zen principles of
- simplicity and
- visual clarity
so clearly and convincingly to slide presentations that I immediately felt like improving my own stuff, or even creating new presentations just to follow his guidelines.
But Garr doesn’t just preach simple and clear presentations. His own book shows the same courtesy to his readers, with an appealing and structured presentation and lots of helpful visuals. Just thumbing through this book is a pleasure in itself!
At first, I wasn’t sure if I should present this book to you at all. After all, it’s a book about slide presentations in the office. Well, sort of. And though I’m sure a lot of you have to deal with such presentations more or less regularly, it’s not really related to the main topics of Path of Open Doors.
So what made me decide to write about this book today, then? 🙂
- “Presentation Zen” is, in itself, a “transfer book” – it takes ideas and concepts of Zen and transfers them to slide presentations.
This makes it particularly easy to transfer the ideas and concepts in this book to other areas of life, too. Maybe to blogs or websites, to any form of teaching, … – wherever you want to “sell” something to other people, whether you’re using slides or not, “Presentation Zen” inspires and motivates you to do better.
- At the same time, I found this transfer very inspiring on a meta level.
Because the obvious next question is… Which basic principles exist in my and in your work, and how can we convincingly transfer them to other areas?
And finally, “Presentatoin Zen” is quite simply a beautiful book.
Alas, nowadays, this isn’t a given anymore. In times when some books are printed on some form of toilet paper… when lectorship is sometimes cut down so much that it hurts… when almost nobody takes the time and effort to present their ideas in an appealing way… in such times, the effort and love which went into this book simply stands out.
If you, like me, are one of the people who like to browse in a book just because it’s beautiful, feels good to the touch or smells nice, you’ll enjoy this book a lot.
So… after all that praise, the question is who should get “Presentation Zen”?
For some of you, it’ll certainly be helpful at work (especially if you have to prepare or give a lot of PowerPoint presentations).
But more importantly, I loved the transfer of the underlying zen concepts to a very practical application (= slide presentations). Watching this was very inspiring to me! If you read this book with open eyes and a creative mind, you’ll get a lot of ideas for your own everyday life, even if slide shows are not usually a part of this life…
Which message do I want to convey, what EXACTLY do I want to communicate? You need to know the answer to that before you think about HOW to present your message.
And one lesson is probably the most relevant for all of us: Which message do I want to convey, what EXACTLY do I want to communicate? You need to know the answer to this question before you think about HOW to present your message.
* I put a lot of time and effort into the book reviews and other content here on Path of Open Doors, and I hope that you get some joy and inspiration from them. If possible, please buy this book from an independent, owner-operated bookstore in your area – the people who run these bookstores usually put a lot of time and love into their work, and we can support them by buying our books there.
If you’d rather order the book online, these are my affiliate links to Amazon:
If you buy something from Amazon through these links, I’ll get a commission.