Slide:ology – The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte (Short Book Review)

by Oliver Adria on 07/05/2009

slideology_cover_210I didn’t post for almost a week due to a (really needed and relaxing) spontanous short vacation. It did give me a chance to read a couple of books – among them: slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations by Nancy Duarte.

It’s a well-designed book (who would’ve guessed it?) and when first flipping through I really liked the fact that it includes a lot of diagrams and images and case studies – it’s a really hands-on book. The 294-page book is divided into 12 chapters such as “Chapter 4: Displaying Data”, “Chapter 6: Arranging Elements” or “Chapter 11: Interacting with slides”.

Then I dove in into the book – the first chapters covered the basics of creating presentations; I enjoyed skimming it page by page, looking at the images. Though I knew most of it in one way or another, in some points it does go into more detail, e.g. in “Chapter 3: Creating Diagrams” Nancy included a LOT of diagram examples and I was able to get some inspiration for some of my diagrams.

It’s in the later and more advanced chapters where I learnt some new stuff. Though I sort of know a couple of things, this book assembles the things that I always wanted to look up – such as color palettes, creating effective templates, some typesetting stuff and some of the case studies (such as Hewlett-Packard branding). One of my other favorites is also the information on structuring information and how to compose the slides.

Many design students will most likely know the design things covered in this book, while professional presenters will know some of the basic presenter things; but since this book covers many subjects, I imagine most people will derive some sort of new information out of it.

Personal Conclusion: I like creating presentations and usually I will do fine, but I needed a system on how to start the slide design, and this book has helped me towards the goal. I imagine I will use this book a lot for referencing purposes (especially “Chapter 3: Creating Diagrams” and “Chapter 6: Arranging Elements”). Though in some points it does not go very in-depth, it makes up for it by covering a broad range of subjects and it’s a good “base” to start further research. It is a bit weak on the public speaking part, but I think the intention of the book was to focus more on the design part (the second title might’ve been more appropriately be called “The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentation Designs” or so).

Recommendation: If you like to go a bit more in-depth into presentations, I highly recommend buying the slide:ology book. Though I can imagine some people might be overwhelmed by the broad range of subjects. For them I would recommend Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery, which was my first presentation design book. It covers many of the basics and doesn’t go too much into the technical details and has some more on presentation delivery. Using Presentation Zen will be enough to make you a great slide designer, but slide:ology will go into more areas and touch on many subjects not covered in Presentation Zen (such as typography and typesetting, color palettes, creating advanced diagrams, designing templates).

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