Book Reviews

Presentations That Persuade and Motivate

by The Harvard Business School

Reviewed by Ronald A. Styron Jr.
Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, Miss.

Presentations That Persuade and Motivate , a collection of articles taken from the Harvard Management Update and Harvard Management Communication Letter, has contributions from 10 authors on preparing a public presentation, knowing your audience and coping with stage fright.

The book offers no great revelations to educational leaders with much of the advice pitched to business executives. The advice, with a few exceptions, would be common knowledge to most leaders in education, but there are a few valuable tips found within the book.

One author, Judith Humphrey, reminds us that when making a professional presentation PowerPoint slides can be distracting and lead the audience’s attention away from the presenter. This situation is exacerbated when handouts of the slides are provided to attendees.

Another informative section deals with beginning a presentation. Tips are offered on capturing the attention of the audience by beginning presentations with a story or parable. Stories apparently are more beneficial than the use of a joke. The author reminds us of the difficulty in finding appropriate jokes considering the diversity found today in audiences.

Finally, some good suggestions are raised on structuring presentations in such a way as to be congruent with the concept of shared decision making. The author advises us to resist the temptation of telling people what to do and instead to structure key concepts around pertinent questions, which serve to guide audiences through the solution of a given problem.

(Presentations That Persuade and Motivate, Harvard Business School Press, Boston, Mass., 2004, 163 pp. with index, $14.95 hardcover)