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Presentation Patterns: Techniques for Crafting Better Presentations, 1st edition

  • Neal Ford
  • Matthew McCullough
  • Nathaniel Schutta

Published by Addison-Wesley Professional (August 15th 2012) - Copyright © 2013

1st edition

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Presentation Patterns is the first book on presentations that categorizes and organizes the building blocks (or patterns) that you’ll need to communicate effectively using presentation tools like Keynote and PowerPoint.


Patterns are like the lower-level steps found inside recipes; they are the techniques you must master to be considered a master chef or master presenter. You can use the patterns in this book to construct your own recipes for different contexts, such as business meetings, technical demonstrations, scientific expositions, and keynotes, just to name a few.


Although there are no such things as antirecipes, this book shows you lots of antipatterns—things you should avoid doing in presentations. Modern presentation tools often encourage ineffective presentation techniques, but this book shows you how to avoid them.


Each pattern is introduced with a memorable name, a definition, and a brief explanation of motivation. Readers learn where the pattern applies, the consequences of applying it, and how to apply it. The authors also identify critical antipatterns: clichés, fallacies, and design mistakes that cause presentations to disappoint. These problems are easy to avoid—once you know how.


Presentation Patterns will help you

  • Plan what you’ll say, who you’ll say it to, how long you’ll talk, and where you’ll present
  • Perfectly calibrate your presentation to your audience
  • Use the storyteller’s “narrative arc” to full advantage
  • Strengthen your credibility—and avoid mistakes that hurt it
  • Hone your message before you ever touch presentation software
  • Incorporate visuals that support your message instead of hindering it
  • Create highly effective “infodecks” that work when you’re not able to deliver a talk in person
  • Construct slides that really communicate and avoid “Ant Fonts,” “Floodmarks,” “Alienating Artifacts,” and other errors
  • Master 13 powerful techniques for delivering your presentation with power, authority, and clarity 

Whether you use this book as a handy reference or read it from start to finish, it will be a revelation: an entirely new language for systematically planning, creating, and delivering more powerful presentations. You’ll quickly find it indispensable—no matter what you’re presenting, who your audiences are, or what message you’re driving home.

Table of contents

List of Figures ix


Introduction 1

Origins 2

Toward Patterns 3

How This Book Is Organized 10

How to Use This Book 11

Summary 11


Part I: Prepare 13


Chapter 1: Presentation Prelude Patterns 15

Pattern: Know Your Audience 16

Pattern: Social Media Advertising 18

Pattern: Required 20

Pattern: The Big Why 22

Pattern: Proposed 24

Antipattern: Abstract Attorney 26


Chapter 2: Creativity Patterns 29

Pattern: Narrative Arc 30

Pattern: Fourthought 34

Pattern: Crucible 38

Pattern: Concurrent Creation 41

Pattern: Triad 43

Pattern: Expansion Joints 45

Pattern: Talklet 46

Pattern: Unifying Visual Theme 48

Pattern: Brain Breaks 51

Antipattern: Alienating Artifact 53

Antipattern: Celery 56

Pattern: Leet Grammars 58

Pattern: Lightning Talk 59

Pattern: Takahashi 60

Pattern: Cave Painting 62


Part II: Build 65


Chapter 3: Slide Construction Patterns 67

Antipattern: Cookie Cutter 68

Pattern: Coda 70

Antipattern: Injured Outlines 71

Pattern: Peer Review 72

Pattern: Foreshadowing 75

Antipattern: Bullet-Riddled Corpse 77

Pattern: Greek Chorus 80

Antipattern: Ant Fonts 81

Antipattern: Fontaholic 83

Antipattern: Floodmarks 86

Antipattern: Photomaniac 89

Pattern: Composite Animation 92

Pattern: Á la Carte Content 95

Pattern: Analog Noise 99

Pattern: Vacation Photos 104

Pattern: Defy Defaults 106

Antipattern: Borrowed Shoes 108


Chapter 4: Temporal Patterns 111

Antipattern: Slideuments 112

Pattern: Infodeck 114

Pattern: Gradual Consistency 116

Pattern: Charred Trail 120

Pattern: Exuberant Title Top 123

Pattern: Invisibility 127

Pattern: Context Keeper 131

Pattern: Breadcrumbs 133

Pattern: Bookends 135

Pattern: Soft Transitions 137

Pattern: Intermezzi 139

Pattern: Backtracking 141

Pattern: Preroll 142

Pattern: Crawling Credits 143


Chapter 5: Demonstrations versus Presentations 145

Pattern: Live Demo 147

Antipattern: Dead Demo 151

Pattern: Lipsync 154

Pattern: Traveling Highlights 157

Pattern: Crawling Code 162

Pattern: Emergence 164

Pattern: Live on Tape 165


Part III: Deliver 169


Chapter 6: Stage Prep 171

Pattern: Preparation 172

Pattern: Posse 174

Pattern: Seeding Satisfaction 175

Pattern: Display of High Value 177

Antipattern: Shortchanged 181


Chapter 7: Performance Antipatterns 183

Antipattern: Hiccup Words 184

Antipattern: Disowning Your Topic 186

Antipattern: Lipstick on a Pig 187

Antipattern: Tower of Babble 188

Antipattern: Bunker 190

Antipattern: Hecklers 191

Antipattern: Going Meta 193

Antipattern: Backchannel 195

Antipattern: Laser Weapons 197

Antipattern: Negative Ignorance 199

Antipattern: Dual-Headed Monster 200

Chapter 8: Performance Patterns 203

Pattern: Carnegie Hall 204

Pattern: Emotional State 207

Pattern: Breathing Room 208

Pattern: Shoeless 209

Pattern: Mentor 210

Pattern: Weatherman 211

Pattern: Seeding the First Question 214

Pattern: Make It Rain 215

Pattern: Entertainment 216

Pattern: The Stakeout 218

Pattern: Lightsaber 219

Pattern: Echo Chamber 221

Pattern: Red, Yellow, Green 222


Conclusion 225

Patterns Redux 225

Build Your Own . . . 226

Summary 228


Glossary of Patterns 229

Resources 241

Credits 243

Notes 251

Index 255

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