“Beyond Bullets” by Cliff Atkinson offers a powerful technique to improve powerpoint presentations. The result of a long frustration experienced by author on exposure to a lot of meaningless presentations in his career led the author to pen a technique which can make any presentation interesting, stimulating. The motive behind this book is to enable the readers to inform, motivate and inspire the listeners. The book takes inspiration from Hollywood and adapts the content-to-production cycle to producing a informative powerpoint.
 
A quick summary of the techniques offered in this book:

There are 3 acts to any powerpoint. Act I sets the story to the presentation. Act II develops the action
Act I : There are 5 elements one needs to address : Setting, Protagonist, Imbalance, Balance, Solution
Act II : Depending on the time available, one can develop in to 5 minutes prez / 15 minute prez / 45 minute prez
Act III : In this act , one needs to restate the crisis, recommend the solution, setting up the climax and end with a resolution.
 
The above structure is presented in a template , where one can start organizing thoughts before one opens a powerpoint. In a lot of instances where a presentation has to be made, people open a blank presentation and then try to put in content. The book strongly advices against such practice and urges the speakers to first logically arrange their ideas in a script fashion. Once the team / people giving the prez are convinced on the script, then the presenter can go ahead and flesh the script in to a powerpoint. The beyond bullets approach is very different from the usual methods in the sense that it suggests to use a title and an image in the main slide and the notes page to fill all the content that one wants to speak.
 
The sequence of steps to be followed when translating the script in to powerpoint is :
  • First , the one liners in the script translates to the title for each slide.
  • Second, one needs to use the notes page to write down all the stuff one intends to speak
  • Thirdly, one needs to put in an image in main slide which conveys the title and content in the notes page.The image should gel with the main motif of the presentation
Once the above structure of title, image and notes are in place, one can certainly use a lot of tactics to make the prez more appealing to the audience.
 
Initially I was skeptical about a book on Powerpoint as most of the books on Prez are more jazz and less meaningful content.  However this book stands out of the crowd and certainly needs to be present in the bookshelf whose work involves giving presentations.