Blackad Bookshelf: Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds

Written by Alan Black

99% of presentations suck. Numb speakers reciting bullet-crammed slides to semi-comatose audiences. Sound familiar? Garr Reynolds knows exactly what to do: de-clutter, get to the core message, and present your idea so it sticks. A bit like web copywriting, you could argue.

The book’s split into three sections, because splitting things into three is the best way to get them done, obviously. Preparation. Design. Delivery. It’s all based on the principles of Zen – from how your presentation looks to how you act when you deliver it.


It’s the easiest thing to slap a load of content into PowerPoint and wing it on the day. It’s also the easiest way to give a terrible presentation.

Reynolds lays out a solid five-step process for putting a presentation together, and only in the last step does he recommend switching on the computer and opening up PowerPoint. It all makes instant sense – leading the reader away from the slick temptations of slideware (yes, even Apple’s Keynote). Even the most basic template – title and bulleted text – can be a step on the path to a doomed presentation. The trick is to free up your mind, be clear on what you want to say and how you want to say it.

Only then should you use software to make it happen.


Next up: design. It’s all about restraint. Get rid of anything that doesn’t directly contribute to your story. Cut out irrelevant noise in your slides – go for clean simplicity over turgid graphics. Images and graphics are, of course, allowed – but make them really count. There are details on how to use bullet points, quotes, and so on – all useful stuff that you can directly apply to any content, anywhere.


Get ready to ramp up your Zen. Mindfulness is the key here – learn to be totally present for your presentation and you have a much bigger chance of connecting with your audience. Get rid of the introductory fluff and strike right to the point. Reynolds gives heaps of advice, analysis, and examples of how to transform your delivery style.

Not just for presentations

Got a presentation coming up? Read the book. Don’t give many presentations? Doesn’t matter. The best thing about Presentation Zen is that it translates nicely into any kind of content – including web copywriting. De-clutter, get to the point, grab your audiences, and be human. That’s what we do for our clients – whether on the page or round the training table.

Next steps

🛒 Order 'Presentation Zen' from Amazon

👀 All our reviews of copywriting books

🚀 Let us train you to write presentations