Thursday, March 17, 2011

A tip on books for presentations

Finding the appropriate books to get started on better scientific talks might be a slightly difficult task. In this post I offer my top three books on delivery and message and visuals design.

Maybe you have always felt that there was a problem with the presentations you gave in college as an undergrad. Maybe you even got bad advice from your peers when preparing a talk, without knowing it was bad advice. So, you know there is a problem and you want to fix it (maybe that's why you are reading this post/blog,) but the question is where to start. So, here is a list of books on message design, visuals design and delivery.
  • Confessions of a Public Speaker by Scott Berkun. This is by far the best public speaking book I have read. But don't take my word for granted, check out the amazon.com reviews.
  • Presentation Zen Design by Garr Reynolds.  I have mentioned Garr's work and expertise before. He is the author of three great books on presentations, though the first one, Presentation Zen, is quite popular, my favorite is this one. It's about design of visuals, it deals with font and color matters, photography and gestalt.
  • Make to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath.  This one blew my mind! This is about message design, that is, how to present an idea so that your audience not only remembers it,  but also acts on it. What makes this book even more appealing to me are there (few) references to message design for schools and universities.
These are my top favorites (10 points out of 10,) sadly,  I must say there is very few content on scientific talks in them. The fact of the matters is that most public speaking books are more target to business/sales people. There are a couple of presentation books for scientific content/audiences. Here are two of them.
  • The Craft of Scientific Presentations by Michael Alley. Although I disagree with some of his ideas, this is a good book with lots of common sense for scientific presentations. It addresses error done at the critical steps and offers solutions on how to solve them.
  • Dazzle 'em with Style: The Art of Oral Scientific Presentation by Robert R.H. Anholt. I haven't read this book, but the fact that there just a second edition, might be taken as a good sign. I stumbled across this book at the webpage  the syllabus of a public speaking course on the physics department of the Ohio State University. Click here to go there. Judging for the content of the course, I would say the book is on the right track.

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