by Ray Anthony (Chas. P. Young Co., Houston, 2000, 35 pp., $14.95, 281.364.7739, firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you haven't done many presentations, this basic book shows readers how to build a presentation from the ground up. Compelling Presentation Checklist is not organized by chapters; instead, topic headings lead readers through each section. The first section, "Planning and organizing to win," describes what should be included and what might need to be left out of an effective speech. The author covers the basics, such as creating a presentation outline and using the information you have most effectively.
The "Know your audience" section asks such questions as, "What are the audience's opinions and attitudes toward you and the subject matter?" This forces the presenter to put himself in the audience's shoes and gear his talk towards the audience's needs. Although basic, this section is helpful for those not familiar with audience analysis, helping them to determine how to make their presentation most effective for their participants.
The book also covers creating dynamic introductions and conclusions, cultivating voice and body language and crafting great content. The voice and body language section, in particular, is helpful for those without extensive presentation experience in deciding when and how to use gestures, eye contact and deliberate pauses to add drama and flair to the points they want to make.
A nice section on resources helps readers determine what tools they may need. Lists of aids, such as sign-in sheets, bulletin boards, extra batteries, recording and playback equipment and office supplies, serve as reminders of basic items presenters often forget to bring.
The section on language seems misplaced, however; I would have expected it to be included in the body language and voice section of the book. Still it's useful, because Anthony gives basic do's and don'ts for language use, followed by helpful examples. The "Designing and using visuals for effect" section covers design basics for creating slideshows and handouts, although the information is too general to aid in creating useful visual aids.
Anthony includes a couple of pages on the dreaded question-and-answer period that follows most presentations and how to approach it with less trepidation. But again, he doesn't go into much detail.
Compelling Presentation Checklist is about as basic as a book can get. But if you are a novice presenter, this is a good place to start.
• Dianne Porter