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Don Descy
Behind The Bullet Points
Don E. Descy, author
Dr. Descy explains how to prepare your presentation and visuals and also what to do before, during and after your in-person or virtual presentation, speech or keynote.
With a spirit of cheerful straight-talk, and a zeal for debunking bad yet familiar advice, Descy lays out practical strategies for becoming what he calls a “power presenter”—someone who communicates with clarity, confidence, and power in professional presentations in in-person or virtual settings. Drawing on decades of experience in giving presentations, Descy offers “PoweredPointer”s for communicating effectively, with an emphasis on process and understanding the role of a speaker. Descy points out that when you hold the stage “You are the actor and the director,” meaning the director in you must push the actor to rehearse, to win trust, to master the power of pauses and the pitch of your voice, and to keep humor self-directed and appropriate. It’s the director’s role to understand the audience and the venue and to guide the actor in customizing the performance.

But he argues that it’s nobody’s role, no matter what you may have been taught, to endeavor to “be yourself.” Descy reminds readers throughout that a presentation is a performance, and that preparing to perform—rather than merely memorizing the words and counting on your innate qualities to get them across—is the crucial work that puts a presentation over the top. His advice digs deep into concerns like clothes, (“dress one step above” your audience), eye contact (“PoweredPointer 37: Lock on to people’s eyes for three to five seconds”), how to design effective slides, and how to face audience questions.

“Use personal language as if you are just talking to one person,” Descy advises. He exemplifies that advice throughout Behind the Bullet Points, writing in a direct, friendly voice that inspires nods and occasional laughter. This volume can at times seem repetitious, and the guidance for virtual presentations (check your lighting, test your platform) isn’t as thorough and seasoned as the rest. This isn’t a book about composing a presentation—it’s instead a thorough, persuasive guide to getting one across and even making it fun.

Takeaway: Readers eager to improve their skills at professional presentations will find much fresh, helpful insight.

Great for fans of: Garr Reynolds’s Presentation Zen, Nancy Duarte’s Resonate.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A