(Full disclaimer: Garr Reynolds, the author of the book “The Naked Presenter”, was my professor when I studied at
Kansai Gaidai University in 2007. I was blown away by how good this teacher was at teaching, sharing his knowledge, but more importantly to make us hungry for curiosity. Thus, some may say that I am not objective when I recommend this book but I can’t see how anyone would dislike this book either.)
Who’s Garr Reynolds?
Garr Reynolds is one of today’s top experts to consult when it comes to making presentations either as a researcher, business person, etc. We all had to go through a crappy experience at listening someone speaking in front of an audience using PowerPoint where the speaker reads the slides which are full of text (which no one reads) and where we don’t feel engage whatsoever. Garr was a former Manager of Worldwide User Group Relations at Apple Computer in Silicon Valley. With Apple, Garr worked with user groups (brand communities) in the U.S. and Japan and delivered presentations, software demos, and keynote addresses to the firm’s most loyal customers. It is then that he found is love to present but also how to present well! He noticed that in the business world, the quality of presentations was just simply quite pathetic!
Garr’s love for presentation led him to create a website called Presentation Zen (PZ). At PZ, Garr teaches his insights and tips on how to deliver presentations with a touch of Zen and Japanese culture. Garr saw in the study of Zen many lessons that we should apply to the world of presentations. His website became the most popular website on presentation and decided to write a book called Presentation Zen. This book became a best seller and one of the top business books of Amazon in 2008. His first book was an all-around book on how to deliver good presentations and go beyond PowerPoint with a touch of Zen.
His second book, Presentation Zen Design, which was released in 2009 focused specifically on how to create better designed presentations. He shares his lessons on designing effective presentations that contain text, graphs, color, images, and video.
His latest book which was just released is called The Naked Presenter. That is the book I will briefly write about and seriously recommend.
The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides – A must for anyone who speaks in front of an audience
Garr’s latest book aims at teaching presenters how to communicate the essence of your message by stripping away all that is unnecessary (i.e. pointless slides, text, etc.) and embracing the ideas of simplicity, clarity, honesty, integrity and most importantly PASSION through your “nakedness” or “naturalness”. This book teaches the core of presentations – ten (plus one extra) delivery principles that begin with the letter P. They are: Preparation, Punch, Presence, Projection, Passion, Proximity, Play, Pace, Participation, and Power.
Taken from the concept of Japanese public bath called Onsen (温泉 in Japanese) where everyone who is in the bath is naked, Garr makes a link on how Japanese bath can make you more prepared to make better presentation of your core message. As in public bath, presenters should be naked: removing the unnecessary and expose what is most important. The ten Ps teaches you how to be naked.
Quick insights on some of the ten Ps – preparation, punch, and Passion.
Preparation: At school, I see students preparing their presentations the night before the presentation day…what the hell? No wonder there is so many crappy presentations out there. It takes time to prepare a good presentation. Hence, the first P takes a big part of the book. It teaches how to find time to prepare you presentation, the necessity to understand your audience prior your presentation and the power of story (stories is what makes presentation sticks in people’s mind). Good preparation gives you the chance to remove the unnecessary of your core message.
Punch: To make your core message stand out it needs to PUNCH in the state of people’s mind. For instance, does your core message challenges conventional assumptions? Is it in anyway personal? You will find that when you core message as a PUNCH feature, building a story around your core message becomes easier, hence it makes you more open to the audience and easier to grab people’s attention.
Passion: One way to show your true nakedness is by showing your emotions through passion! When you are passionate by your work, project, product, and etc there is no way that you shouldn’t demonstrate that passion to your audience. By doing so, you’re engaging your audience in your presentation (as long as you make them feel why they should also be passionate). Growing as a kid, it was easy to go in front of the class and just be joyful and passionate but for some sad reason, grown-up presentations are always too serious. We demand serious presentations — but why? This kills the vibe for creativity and engagement. The book teaches you how to express your passion through professionalism.
Presentations is all about having conversations
Having Garr as a teacher, reading is blog and his two previous book religiously, and always paying attention to all the great presentations that you find on the web, is latest book made me realized something that I never really noticed or taken seriously. When you present, you are simply having a discussion or conversation. For some reason, my mind always classified presentations and conversations in two separate groups. But this is not the case! Once you realize inside your mind that you are simply having a conversation with your audience, it is much easier to express your true self and be authentic because you remove the barriers to formality. As said by the author:
“Just like a good conversationalist, a presenter with good presence will connect with you on some level and demonstrate with sincerity that, at least for the moment, he or she does not wish to be anywhere else than right there having a dialogue with you.”
Follow the Presentation Zen movement
I highly suggest everyone to follow Garr’s blog Presentation Zen. This will make you a much better presenter on a weekly basis. You will be hooked on the website and you will turn yourself to Garr’s three books. By doing so, we will live in a much better world where there will be better presentations because there is no such thing as boring knowledge, only boring presentations.