Review: Dan Roam and the SQVID

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I recommend The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam for budding visual designers.  It is a basic, building block text to help you get from Point A (death-by-PowerPoint) to Point B (truly visual visual presentation).  For those of you are just starting the path to thinking like a designer, this book will help you make that leap.  For those of you who know and practice the philosophies of Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte, this text isn’t a must-read.  For example, if you read this blog and feel confused by my Design Tips of the Day, definitely pick up your copy of Roam’s book to start developing those visual thinking skills.

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Of all reviews I read, I agreed with this one the most: “Like many books, Back of the Napkin seems to have begun with a brilliant very short concept that someone (correctly) thought would sell like hotcakes if padded out into a full-length book. The author really does present significant insights, but the irony is that they would have been best summarized literally on the back of a napkin, rather than dragging them out into full book form. So it reads like a 300-slide PowerPoint presentation advocating brevity” (Source).

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One concept that I did love from Roam’s text was SQVID.  You can read about SQVID and peruse the ebook here.

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Inspiration: Philippe Starck’s Why Design?

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Philippe Starck is a French product designer who can teach us a lot about delivery.  His thick accent, like all accents, draws us in because of its novelty.  After 5:00, however, we start to focus on the content instead of the beautiful sound of the vocal delivery.  His self-depreciating humor and energetic delivery involving many sound effects keeps his audience engaged.

After watching Starck’s TED Talk, I did a little research on his work, and I wanted to share these beautiful designs with you:

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Presentations That Stick

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How can you avoid creating that death-by-bulletpoint presentation that everybody hates?  Made to Stick‘s Dan Heath gives three tips: 1) be simple, 2) show something, and 3) tease before you tell.  I love Heath’s tips in conjunction with Garr Reynolds’ advice.  In Presentation Zen, Reynolds emphasizes restraint, simplicity, and naturalness when designing visual presentations.

Heath explains that if your PowerPoint is overloaded with too many messages, your audience will remember nothing.  Simplicity is key for audience retention.  He says that a slide should be about communication – not decoration.  Presentations should be visual – like a demonstration.  Presentations should not be an entire speech typed out on slides.  Heath’s best point: “If you want to audience to value your message, you’ve got to get them curious about it” (Source).  The Heath brothers are so valuable in communication and presentation!  If you haven’t read Made to Stick and Switch, I highly recommend both books to help you create messages that are clear and engaging.