May 17, 2019

slide:ology Book Review


​Slide:ology is not a how-to manual for presentation software rather a book focused on developing a message and determining the best ways to convey that message on slides. Along the way you will learn design techniques related to images, data, color, and animation. The book is filled with examples and case studies to reinforce what is being covered.

​​Overview of the Book

​Part One

​Chapter 1, Creating a new slide ideology, gives a quick overview of what a presentation should be. Duarte highlights the difference between a document (75 or more words per slide) and a Teleprompter (about 50 words per slide) and a presentation (minimal text and visual representation of an idea). She also discusses the presentation ecosystem consisting of three parts: message, visual story, and delivery. If you’re going to create a quality presentation, you have to commit a a significant amount of time, even up to 90 hours.

​When beginning the process, there are seven questions you should ask to make sure you know your audience.

  1. 1
    ​What are they like?
  2. 2
    ​Why are they here?
  3. 3
    ​What keeps them up at night?
  4. 4
    ​How can you solve their problem?
  5. 5
    ​What do you want them to do?
  6. 6
    ​How might  they resist?
  7. 7
    ​How can you best  reach them?

​In Creating ideas, not slides (Chapter 2) Duarte recommends stepping away from the computer and use pen and paper (or pen and sticky notes) to brainstorm ideas. The point is to not stop and think about each idea once written. Once the brainstorming is done then start to categorize, sketch, or storyboard.

Creating diagrams (Chapter 3) is a short, visual chapter with examples of many different diagrams that can help convey an abstract idea, strategies make them work together, and what to do to strengthen its concept.

Data is often a significant component of slides. In Displaying data (Chapter 4) the author talks about the five data slide rules. 1) Tell the truth, 2) Get to the point, 3) Pick the right tool for the right job, 4) Highlight what’s important, and 5) Keep it simple. The chapter also includes examples of charts makeovers.

“​Consider the kind of relationship you want to have with your audience. Do you want to be their hero? Their mentor? Their cheerleader? Like these characters, good presenters aren’t in it for themselves; they’re in it for others.”

- ​Nancy Duarte -

​Part Two

​Chapter 5, Thinking like a designer, highlights how design decisions represent who you are as a presenter. Duarte introduces the three components of slide design: arrangement, visual elements, and movement. The following chapters address these in more detail.

In Arranging elements (Chapter 6), the author starts getting into the design principles and elements that are applicable to slides. This chapter covers contrast, flow, hierarchy, unity, proximity, and white space.

Chapter 7, Using visual elements: background, color, and text, covers three of the four visual elements of a slide. Included is how to think about depth and perception, the basics the color: color wheel, color relationships, color palette, and font or typography:  slide word count, typesetting,  bullets points, font size, and animating text.

Images can be represented in multiple formats ranging from photos two illustrations to video. Using visual elements: images (Chapter 8) highlights how to select images that work together, what to keep in mind when cropping, and working with illustrations.

Chapter 9, Creating movement, focuses on how to use animation as a communication strategy rather than a last-minute add-on such as planning animation, considerations for moving objects, and thinking in terms of scenes instead of a static flat slide.

​Part Three

​While many presentation gurus chafe against using templates, the author supports their use in the context of a team-based work environment and as an effective way to maintain company branding.

Chapter 10, Governing with templates, provides strategies on what to consider when creating a template system and guidelines. Interacting with slides (Chapter 11) covers ways to limit text on your slides, the overall slide deck length, and a few projection keystroke tips.

Manifesto: the five theses of the power of a presentation (Chapter 12) is a list of five nuggets of wisdom that sum up the premise of the entire book.

  1. 1
    ​​Treat Your Audience as King
  2. 2
    ​​Spread Ideas and Move People
  3. 3
    ​​Help Them See What You’re Saying
  4. 4
    ​​Practice Design, Not Decoration
  5. 5
    ​​Cultivate Healthy Relationships


​The strength of this book is it helps a presenter take a general presentation topic and convert it into a well thought out, visually supportive slide deck. For example, instead of ‘reporting on mid-year sales figures’ your focus becomes ‘The mid-year sales report presentation will highlight where sales are high and low and how the team needs to adjust projections for the remainder of the year. Supplementary packets with all of the corporate sales figures will be provided.’

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Jennifer Sharkey is known as the Virtual Presentation Specialist. Being passionate about seeing people shine and be heard, she leans into her 20+ years of public speaking experience and uses what she has learned from presenting, both in-person and virtually, to small groups all the way up to 5000 people. Jennifer draws from her experience as an associate professor, academic librarian, and coach to help holistic coaches master virtual presentations to grow their business. Her unique immersive program provides practical strategies and methods to build confidence, engage audiences, and generate authenticity and authority.

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