The Naked Presenter by Garr Reynolds
The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides is the latest in a series of best-selling presentation books by Garr Reynolds (of Presentation Zen fame). While his previous books inspired his readers to craft better visuals, this book teaches readers how to deliver more naturally.
This article is the latest of a series of public speaking book reviews here on Six Minutes.
The 7 chapters of The Naked Presenter are:
- Naturalness and the Art of Presenting Naked
- First Things First: Preparation
- Connect with Punch, Presence, and Projection
- Engage with Passion, Proximity, and Play
- Sustain with Pace and Participation
- End with a Powerful Finish
- Continuous Improvement Through Persistence
As you scan those chapter titles, you might guess that there’s some lessons on creating and organizing content, and you’d be right. However, the primary focus of The Naked Presenter is on delivery techniques.
Reynolds ties the lessons together through a loose framework of 10 P’s (refer to the chapter titles…): preparation, punch, presence, projection, passion, proximity, play, pace, participation, and power. He addresses the many challenges which a presenter faces, and his persistent advice is to deliver naturally. In his own words:
Presenting naked means connecting and engaging with an audience, whether three people or three thousand, in a a way that is direct, honest, and clear.
Like his previous books, The Naked Presenter is elegantly written and a visual treat.
At the time of writing this review, you can get this book for only $14.65 from amazon.com. This is 41% off the list price — fantastic value.
1. Rich with Great Advice
The Naked Presenter is packed with great advice. Reynolds has a great knack for simplifying down to the essence of a topic, and sharing the core lesson. I didn’t count, but there must be at least 50 great lessons sprinkled throughout the book which any speaker could adopt to improve their delivery approach.
2. Focus on preparing yourself to speak
When we are scheduled to speak, many of us spend all of our time focussing on preparing our content (words and slides), and we neglect to prepare ourselves. This heightens the anxiety we feel, and this anxiety often blinds us to the simple things we need to do to connect with our audience and deliver effectively.
Reynolds understands that we must prepare ourselves first. Much of his advice focuses on preparing to speak, not in terms of our content, but ourselves. By creating a positive mindset, reducing barriers, and focusing on the needs of the audience, we can deliver great value.
1. More Cohesiveness
Though there are great lessons throughout, the book felt more like a series of short essays about delivery techniques rather than a set of cohesive, tightly-bound chapters. Some sections are almost entirely taken from articles on Reynolds’ popular blog, Presentation Zen.
There’s nothing wrong with this approach to writing a book, but I wish the layout more clearly reflected this organizational principle. For example, I would have preferred that it had been subtitled “Essays on delivering powerful presentations with or without slides” and been organized in this way. As it stands, the chapters lack some cohesiveness.
2. Fewer Diversions
Adding to the lack of cohesion, there are “extra” essays (2-4 pages in length) sprinkled through several of the chapters. Some of these essays are by guest authors (with a different writing style); some are by Reynolds himself.
While the advice in these extra essays is mostly interesting and valuable, they often seemed to be just “thrown in” to the chapter, occasionally cutting the flow of the chapter text. The only signal is a slightly darker page color, which I didn’t notice because I tend to read in pretty low light. This contributes to the lack of cohesion.
(On the plus side, this chunked organization makes it easy to read the book a few pages at a time, whenever your busy day allows a few minutes.)
Two-thirds of readers at goodreads.com gave it either 4 or 5 starts out of 5:
An even greater proportion (89%) gave the book 4 or 5 stars out of 5 on amazon.com:
Garr Reynolds wrote the book on speech delivery; The Naked Presenter is a must-own for anyone who has to deliver a presentation. His book is written so that regardless of public speaking knowledge or experience, anyone can understand and apply his key principles.
Garr’s most recent book is The Naked Presenter, and I recommend that too for compelling thoughts on structuring presentations.
Whether you are a novice presenter or a pro; do short presentations or in depth training and seminars like me, I believe you will find ideas in this book to take your presentations to the next level…
I read a lot of books about presentation techniques. Without any doubt Garr Reynolds wrote the best.
For me, his best book so far.
I wish The Naked Presenter had more cohesion, but it is undeniably packed with lessons that will improve your delivery skills, no matter what kind of speaking you do. I strongly recommend that you get a copy and devour this book.
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