How the Advanced Presentation Strategy and Design Workshop Is Different

The following is an edited extract from Andrew Abela’s book Advanced Presentation by Design

This workshop is specifically designed for achieving impact in tough presentation situations, and in particular, situations that involve communicating complex information. It is solidly based on extensive empirical research and has been field-tested with some of the largest and most demanding companies in the world. And it provides a simple, step-by-step method for communicating even the most complex information in ways that will get your audience to act on it.

It proposes an approach to presentation design that is radically different from the conventional wisdom for designing effective PowerPoint presentations. This alone should be a good thing, because we can blame the conventional wisdom for the epidemic of “Death by PowerPoint,” with its fifty-slide decks, innumerable bullet points, and “chart junk.”

The reason this workshop is different is that the conventional wisdom is contradicted by recent research on a wide range of aspects of presentation design. And therefore a new approach to presentation design is needed, that is supported by, rather than contradicted by, the existing research. The recommendations in this workshop are supported by findings from hundreds of empirical studies from the fields of communication, psychology, education, marketing, and law. (Some of the most useful research on presentation has in fact been done by studying the impact of trial lawyers’ presentations on juries’ decisions.)

The method presented in this book has been field-tested with some of the largest and most demanding companies in the world. Workshops on the Extreme Presentation method have been delivered to major corporations, including Dell, ExxonMobil, H.J. Heinz, Kimberly-Clark, eBay, Motorola, WW Grainger, and Xerox.

Perhaps the most definitive test of the method, though, has been in Redmond, Washington, at the headquarters of Microsoft Corporation, makers of PowerPoint, where hundreds of marketing and market research staff have been, and continue to be, trained on the Extreme Presentation method.

The Extreme Presentation method is comprehensive: it covers everything needed to create a powerful presentation—logic, storytelling, graphics, and influence—in a clear, step-by-step method.

Finally, the method is all about driving action. The fundamental assumption underlying the Extreme Presentation method, and this whole book, is that if your presentation is not going to drive change in how your audience thinks and acts, then why on earth are you wasting your time—and theirs? Every step of the method is focused on driving action.

What This Workshop Is—and Is Not—About

The workshop addresses questions such as:

  • How do I turn a pile of data and analysis into an interesting story?
  • How do I decide what should go into my presentation and what should be excluded?
  • How much detail should I put on each slide?
  • Should I use clip art?
  • How do I use graphics to communicate more clearly?
  • How do I adapt my presentation to different audiences?
  • What do I have to do to ensure that my presentation grabs and keeps my audience’s attention?
  • How do I communicate complex, detailed ideas in ways that they can be understood?
  • And most importantly: how do I design a presentation so that my audience will act on my recommendations?

This workshop is not about the mechanics of using PowerPoint, or any other presentation software. There are many good books already in print on this topic.