Cover of book Presentation Patterns

title Presentation Patterns
published August 2012
ISBN 978-0-321-82080-8
More info

In November 2012 I attended the Devoxx conference. During one of the keynotes by Neal Ford I heard Neal wrote a book about giving good technical presentations. I like the way Neal gives presentations so I was very interested in this book. On this page I give a very brief summary of the book and I have written down my findings about the book.


In presentation patterns the authors use a well known way in software engineering to document things that have proven themselves using patterns. Writing down proven things in giving presentations using the patterns way sounds logical to a software engineer.

All the patterns are documented using the same style: Also known as, Definition, Motivation, Applicability, Machanics and related patterns.

Within the book the patterns have been organised in the following phases:

  • Prepare
  • Build
  • Deliver

This way the book helps in gathering the content for your presentation, think about the topic to present. Than it helps you to come up with slides or other means to bring the messages. It ends with some guidelines to actually bring the message. Which utilities to use, and more over what you should not do while delivering a presentation. The book contains a lot of patterns, but also a lot of anti-patterns. Sometimes it is better to know what you should not do than what you should do.

The book also gives a clear separation between a presentation, documentation (info deck). Another interesting part is where they explain the different reasons for giving a presentation. Think about a required company presentation, being asked or using a request for proposals. All situation have a lot in common, but there are also some differences.

The book contains a lot of references to more learning resources. From the resources it is easy to see that the authors of the book live in the software engineering world. All the authors have extensive experience with giving presentations and therefore have a lot of stories from the conference scene. A lot of these stories are used to explain the idea behind the patterns.

My Opinion

I have read a number of other books about giving nice presentations. The best books sofar were the Presentation Zen books. I think the Presentation Patterns books is complementary to the other books. I really like the style of the book. The fact that you are dealing with presenters with a technical background is obvious when reading the book. Some of the patterns, especially in the build phase, explain how to apply the pattern in Keynote and powerpoint.

I read the book from cover to cover, but I will get back to a few patterns the next time I start preparing for a presentation. I really liked the examples, or war stories in the book.

The book goes into all the different stages of giving a presentation. The preparation part was really helpful. I got some interesting things out of it like the three main items in your presentation and the Brain brakes pattern. In the creation part I also found very interesting ideas. I liked the Soft transitions pattern, the guideline about broken outlines and the guideline for using active voice in your slides. In the part about delivering the presentation I found two things good to remember: Never go Meta and the use of a laser pointer together with the Traveling Highlights pattern.

I really liked the book and I would definitely recommend it to any (technical) presenter.

You can buy the book at amazon, if you use the link below I get a little bit of money for it as well.

Presentation Patterns: Techniques for Crafting Better Presentations