Ben Terrett of Public Digital recently recommended me a book. “It’s about PowerPoint” he said, enthusiastically. “O.k…” I thought, sceptically. There are so many interesting things to read and learn about, for example Crypto, AI, Robotics, Sustainability and many others. A book on PowerPoint wouldn’t appear, anywhere, on my wish-list.
Ben knows his onions however, and has worked with Russell in several organisations such as the pioneering Government Digital Service (GDS) and whilst transforming the CoOp. I also was aware of Russell and his work, for example the brilliant Power of Dreams campaign for Honda (you can find the brand strategy book on Russell’s website – well worth a read). So perhaps this was not such a bonkers recommendation after all. I duly decided to bump it to the top of my reading list and get it.
Delighted I did. The book is called “Everything I Know about Life I Learned from PowerPoint”. It is funny, informative, beautifully written and packed full of advice. Like you, I’ve been using PowerPoint and derivatives of, for what seems like forever. Yet I’ve never given much thought to who designed PowerPoint, why it works the way it does and other more nuanced aspects such as how PowerPoint effects company culture. Russell tackles all of this and more in the book.
If you are, like me, an old hand at presenting, Russell’s advice on creating decks and delivering them, still manages to illuminate and inspire. I found the sections on copywriting particularly helpful.
So who will enjoy this book and find it useful? Well, let’s be honest, there are a lot of bad PowerPoint decks out there. You’ve seen many. Perhaps even today. Maybe you’ve also made some too. It feels like the number of people who would benefit from reading this book would be a very large integer indeed. Particularly business leaders and the C-Suite, whose thirst for and expectations of slide decks, consume vast amounts of organisational energy. Alternatively, if you have an interest in the art of communication, presenting and pitching you’ll enjoy this book too. And to paraphrase Russell, there are jokes. If you are someone who finds presenting stressful and a source of anxiety, there will be much you can draw upon to build your confidence. If you geek out on software and tech this book is for you also.
Like sub-optimal PowerPoints, there are many, many disappointing business books. This is not one of them. I guess I’m giving it a big fat, clip art, thumbs up. It’s really good.
After reading Russell’s book I asked if he’d join me on the podcast to talk about it. He kindly said yes, so I’m delighted he’s my guest for episode 10 of the Hybrid Intelligence Podcast. He loves PowerPoint, perhaps we should learn to love it too.
Russell Davies links: