Tag Archives: presentation design

How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie

It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.

Hands down, this is one of the best motivational books I have ever read: practical and full of wisdom gems. It is basically a self-development book which tries to teach the reader to be a better person with others, with pragmatic advance, encouragements and a positive attitude.

A very positive, helpful book, easy to read even for those who don’t like reading.

Written in 1936, the book is a classic, almost 80 years in print, a testament of its solid advice, timelessness, deep thinking and overall, just common sense. It feels like it was written last year.

It is true that the book is addressed foremost to a readership looking for improving speaking for sales and building self-confidence. However, it does not teach duplicity nor underhandedness. It looks a bit cheesy and superficial indeed, but that makes it easy to read, re-read and motivate for every reader, even the ones that don’t like reading.

The author, Dale Carnegie, had several selling jobs, quite successful, before trying teaching public speaking, which made him rich. He wrote several other books, but this one is the most famous.

From a political philosophy viewpoint, it presents the classical liberal argument that rationally helping others, you help yourself. In essence, even forgetting empathy, we help others for a virtual social safety net. A human being doesn’t need to be nice, it just need to be rational, in order to be kind, attentive to others, helpful and polite.

To conclude, this is an easy-to-read book with timeless advice for those who look for a better self and a better place in society. A short book that I recommend wholeheartedly.

[Featured image by BK, Flickr]

How to Lie with Statistics – Darrell Huff

Extrapolations are useful, particularly in that form of soothsaying called forecasting trends. But in looking at the figures or charts made from them, it is necessary to remember one thing constantly: The trend-to-now may be a fact, but the future trend represents no more than an educated guess. Implicit in it is “everything else being equal” and “present trends continuing.” And somehow everything else refuses to remain equal, else life would be dull indeed.

The book gives straightforward examples of how statistics may be used to deceive. Although written in 1954, it is actual and relevant. The writing is fluid and can be simply understood even from some who is not astute in mathematics.

Manual for critical thinking.

Each chapter presents a particular twist of facts through statistics, usually taking an example from a journal or an advert. Because it is assumed that people give more credibility to facts presented through figures (the more precise, the better), those figures are used to mislead and misinterpret what is really happening.

To mention just a few twists: sample biases (for example a conservative magazine asking readers who they think will win the presidency); inadequate sampling (only 3 or 9 cases); difference between mean and median (the block of apartments might have a different average salary if a very rich man moves in; this doesn’t mean you are richer, but the average goes up); statistical differences lower than than the statistical error presented as relevant differences (such as IQ tests); graphs with no axis measurements; small differences made great through graph manipulations; infographic manipulations (when the difference is, let’s say x2, but the two objects compared in the infographic have surfaces presented at square (x4)); semi-attached figures (when you prove a fact and associate a second one to the first, letting the second fact subtly draw its veracity from the proof of the first); difference between forecast and extrapolation; and many others.

Overall, this little book from Darell Huff is a great defense technique manual for a critical thinker and it is a particular good recommendation for honest journalists, wanting to get the facts from press releases.

Intelligent Research Design – Bob Hancké

The single-most relevant piece of advice, though, is to think carefully who you are writing for. Many, possibly most, research students write just for their supervisor. That is a big mistake: yes, you need to convince him or her of the important of what you are doing, but they are not the ultimate yardstick – and it’s too bad for them if they don’t know that. you should really have a broader, mostly sympathetic, audience in mind when you write, and should probably also diversify your imaginary audience a bit.

Although a book and not an article, I add this post in the Energy section, because it is more related to studies than reading.

Intelligent Research Design is a book offering advice for doctoral researchers at the beginning of their research. While short, the material is condensed and it takes a while to digest. Bob Hancké offers a guide to construct a thesis, from the research question to research design, methodology and presentation.

intelligent-market-design
Learning to construct science

The writing is easy to follow, although the material covered is difficult. It teaches the reader how science is created, the benchmarks of an academic paper and the questions we should ask when reading an article, revealing the potential gaps.

Bob Hancké  is Reader in European Political Economy at the London School of Economics and Political Science and he draws for his decades of teaching experience and grading to show how a good academic paper should look like.

I enjoyed reading the book and I could easily see the points that Hancké wanted to make. I would have liked to recommend the book to my younger me, writing the Masters dissertation.

Presentation Thinking and Design – Ed Gruwez

It is also important to remember the principles of the working memory:

  • Ask for, and hold, your audience’s attention.
  • Make your message easy to understand by limiting its cognitive load.
  • Fix your message in your audience’s mind through repetition, stories and the use of sensory detail. (Presentation thinking and design)

How many times you cursed your days and the speaker for the most insipid, unreadable and tedious presentation that has ever seen the light of a projector?

There are so many tips floating around, just at the fingertips of an Internet research. Why do people do not read them, even the top 5?

Presentation design
Book cover, the inside full of notes

Ed Gruwez shows the basics of creating interesting and memorable presentations. While nothing the author presents is totally new, he puts forward a clear structure, where indeed, the message and the inner logic of the presentation is more important than the fluffy part.

The book comes also with a sum of examples and tips that help create better presentations, quicker. For example, would you delete a slide you worked for2 hours, despite the fact that brings only unrelated information? This is why is better to put the outline of the presentation first on paper, rather than jumping on creating the slides.

Ed (Edouard) Gruwez specializes in presentation thinking and design, and works as Managing Director of “Ogilvy Internal Communications”.

If you know you will do presentations in your lifetime, where you have to deliver a message, this book is helpful. It is easy to read and follow, and you can learn something useful after browsing it for only two minutes.