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Beyond Bullet Points

July 18, 2006

I got a chance to meet Cliff Atkinson today. Cliff is the author of Beyond Bullet Points. I love the subtitle on this book, Using Microsoft PowerPoint to create presentations that inform, motivate, and inspire. One of my jobs at MacBU is Product Manager for Microsoft PowerPoint for Mac, so when I heard about this talk, I figured I better go over and check it out. On the way over, I was thinking, “God, I hope this isn’t boring.” Then I started thinking that the presenter wrote a book about how to do presentations, so you gotta think it’s going to be pretty good, right?

Well, it was awesome. First, it should be noted that there were very few empty seats in the room. This is a topic that many of us in the corporate world really want to crack. How do you reach an audience with a message? I think Cliff just nails some of the problems that people encounter when they’re trying to communicate effectively. Cliff’s technique is based on some pretty interesting research around how people communicate and absorb information and his techniques for getting through that are very straightforward and practical. The ultimate goal is telling a good story, and this book will show you how to do that.

One of the features that I was happy to hear Cliff mention was Presenter Tools on PowerPoint for Mac. One of his clients, attorney Mark Lanier, used PowerPoint 2004 on his Mac with great effectiveness in a very high profile trial. (Notice the passage that says, “Speaking in state court in Angleton, Texas, without notes and in gloriously plain English”.) It’s great to hear about people using innovative features that the PowerPoint team works so hard on delivering.

I’m planning on digging more deeply into the book over the next couple of weeks. I can tell this one is a keeper. Be sure to check out Cliff’s site here. There’s a ton of great information available.

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