This is an excerpt from a draft of my next book, Unmistakeable Impact, which describes what we can do to have excellent instruction for every student, in every classroom, every day. While writing about workshops, one of six parts of an Impact School, it occurred to me that someone else might want to use some of these resources now, so I'm posting this excerpt.
Whatever success I’ve had as a presenter and workshop leader I give credit to the authors of the many books I’ve read. I’ve included a little information about some of the most useful books here:
Design: Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte have started a revolution in the way people use PowerPoint, Keynote or other slide software. Reynold’s Presentation Zen: Simple ideas on presentation design and delivery and Presentation Design: Simple design principles and techniques to enhance your presentations and Nancy Duarte’s slide:ology: The Art and Science of Great Presentations are beautiful, practical books that illustrate by their design as much as by their words why design-thinking is an important part of creating a workshop or presentation. Reynolds’ books make the case for better design in the use of PowerPoint, and Duarte, who collaborated with Al Gore to develop the slides for his presentation An Inconvenient Truth, provides multiple design suggestions that can help anyone improve the look of their slides. Their work is very important because three years from now, I expect, a poorly designed slide presentation will be create as negative an impression as a grammatically incorrect piece of writing does today.
Reynold’s blog is http://www.presentationzen.com/ and you can follow him on Twitter: @PresentationZen. Duarte’s design company is at http://www.duarte.com/, her blog is http://blog.duarte.com/ and you can follow her on Twitter: @nancyduarte.
Delivery: Bert Decker is internationally recognized as an expert in presenting and in You’ve got to be Believed to be Heard he provides outstanding advice on important topics like maintaining energy, eye contact, being persuasive and making an emotional connection. He also has a great approach to planning a presentation, and he talks about the power of video as a learning tool for presenters.
Carmine Gallo has two books that I’ve learned a lot from. His book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs holds a magnifying glass up to Steve Jobs and describes how he meticulously prepares for presentations, the zen-like simplicity of Job’s slides, his posture, verbal delivery, use of video, props, and guest speakers, and his “twitter-ready” simple and precise language.
In 10 Simple Secrets of the World’s Greatest Business Communicators Gallo proposes, with a bit of his tongue in his cheek, the following eleven secrets: 1. Be passionate, use your head to reach their heart; 2. Inspire your audience by getting them to care about your message; 3. Prepare, then toss the script; 4. Start strong but don’t bury the lead; 5. Clarity, lost the jargon or lose your audience; 6. Brevity, keep it short; 7. Say it with style; 8. Command presence through body language; 9. Wear it well, the way you dress speaks volumes; 10. Reinvent yourself, continually improving your speaking skills; and 11. Believe you belong, the success of your presentation will be direct result of the vision you hold of yourself as a speaker.
Stories: There are many great books on story telling, but Stephen Denning’s The Leader’s Guide to Storytelling has been most helpful to me. His book makes a great argument for the importance of stories—he says that storytelling “is an equal partner with abstractions and analysis as a key leadership discipline” (xv) and he offer great suggestions on how to craft and tell the right story for the right situation. For example, he explains that a story designed to encourage change is most effective when told using a minimalist style so that “it leaves plenty of room for the audience to imagine a new story in their context” (p. 62).
There are many other great books on stories, but I’ve found Annette Simmon’s The Story Factor, and John Walsh’s The Art of Storytelling to be especially helpful. Dan and Chip Heath's Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die and Daniel Pink’s A Whole New Mind provide great insights into why stories are important and how to craft and deliver them. Pink identifies story as one the essential six senses necessary for a right-brained approach to life, necessary for success in a future he describes as a conceptual age.
You can find Daniel Pink’s blog at: http://www.danpink.com/ and follow him on Twitter: @DanielPink. The Heath brothers’ blog is at: http://heathbrothers.com/ and they write an excellent online column for http://www.fastcompany.com/.
Storycorps.net. The people at www.storycorp.org provide a venue for people to interview loved ones, and then post their stories on the site. There are hundreds, perhaps thousands of stories that are profound, humorous, heart-breaking, and inspirational. I’ve learned a lot by listening to stories on this site.
TED. One of the best ways to improve as a presenter is to watch many of the world’s best presenters on the www.ted.com website. TED, which stands for technology, entertainment, and design, is an annual conference attracting 3,000 of the world’s most creative and articulate people to Long Beach, California. Their presentations, usually no more than 20 minutes, make for riveting watching, and, for me at least, TED might be the best site on the web.