Sunday, May 29, 2016

"Presentation Zen Design" by Garr Reynolds

Presentation Zen Design by Garr Reynolds rating: 4.17
my veridct: main dish is excellent, but the hors d'oeuvre and the dessert are terrible

pro: solid core messages, good examples
con: verbose and repetitive introductions, shallow show-off about the author's knowledge about Eastern culture

This book is almost refuting its own arguments in its design and contents. In presentations, less is more. The book could have been one third of its volume and still perfect. The book starts with a very long and boring introduction. When you're done with the waddling through the puddle and are gasping, you find that every chapter afterwards starts with its own verbose introduction, thoroughly till the end. You can imagine all those introductions are repetitive, thus boring.

Another thing that rubs you the wrong way is the author's imprudent quotes about Japan. The book starts with the author saying that the Japanese cuisine, "washoku(和食)", is about harmony. Following the same logic, the United States is a country of beauty, Germany a country of mercy, and France a country of law. I know that the author added "literally" in that argument to avoid this kind of criticism, perhaps. Then again, I can say that, literally, the author is one that protrudes in the family of Reynolds.

I know he lived in Japan for 20 years and I bet he knows a lot about its culture. But put yourself in the other's shoes. Imagine some Japanese guy who lived in France for 20 years talking about the Latin roots of French words. Most of Europeans will scorn at the insolence. His quotes about Chinese letters are actually very scornful for most East Asian people, but I will talk no more.

Now, on the bright side, content-wise this book is very satisfactory. Nothing spectacularly new, but most suggestions in the book are solid tips for good presentation (and the design of slides for it). I learned a thing or two about the selection of colors, among other things. And the examples found in the book are well chosen. What I liked most was, the suggestion about using a photo bigger than the screen, leaving the unseen for the realm of imagination.

Overall, the book is worth reading. If the author could have followed his own advice and have written the book in, let's say, 70 pages instead of 240+, it would have won 4 solid stars.

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