Better PowerPoint Book Review
The book is a follow-up and companion book to Dr. Kosslyn’s book Clear and to The Point. What distinguishes the books from each other is that Better PowerPoint is written in a way that makes editing a slide deck a breeze. This compact book provides a quick way to ensure your slides are appropriately designed. His first book delves into the specific principles and how to use them in a presentation slide deck.
This book is beneficial because it does not condemn presentation software or the people presenting. Rather, it shows specifically how one can improve using the tools they already know and have access to.
Overview of the Book
In Chapter 1, The no-stress approach, Kosslyn discusses several cognitive communication rules such as the Goldilocks Rule (present just the right amount). He succinctly explains the rule and provides research data showing how often people have not used that rule (e.g. 81% of presentations break the Goldilocks Rule). The following chapters cover every aspect of a slide deck: text, labels, titles, bullets, graphics, color, transitions, animation, sound, tables, charts, diagrams, maps, and graphs.
Starting with Chapter 2, every chapter begins with a numbered list of question based on specific behaviors creators of bad slide typically do. The questions are worded in a way that represents what a presenter should do when creating slides. For example, “Have you used photos or clipart to allow audience members time to ‘come up for air’?” The rest of each chapter takes that number list and explains what you should do and avoid to while explaining why this is important to in creating better presentations.
In the Epilogue, the author describes several research studies he and his colleagues did to test lack of use of the cognitive communication rules. The studies focused on two things. One, can people identify the difference between a badly designed slide and a good slide. Two, how often do presenters break one or more of the cognitive communication rules. For the studies testing identification of a bad design, the majority of participants were able to select the slides that violated a rule. The studies that analyzed existing presentations, on average 70% of presentations breached one or more of the rules.