Evidence Soup
How to find, use, and explain evidence.

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Wednesday, 17 December 2008

New book can help you develop effective, evidence-based presentations.

It's not every day I get to review a book offering chapters with names like "Marshalling your evidence" and "Assembling the anecdotes that will illustrate your evidence". But I've got my hands on a copy of Advanced Presentations by Design: Creating Communication that Drives Action by Andrew Abela. In October I wrote about Abela's work in my post What does the evidence say about presenting evidence? (He's an ex-McKinsey consultant who is currently a marketing professor.) Now he's published a book on the subject, analyzing the building blocks of effective presentations in a way I've never seen.

There's lots of good guidance in this book, even if you choose not to follow his steps per se. Abela provides specific evidence of what's most likely to work, and why, when you want people to *act* on something you present to them. But the book is more than a recap of scientific findings: He writes from the perspective of a marketer and business manager, offering practical, evidence-based advice about how to focus on a problem your audience has, and how to show them you can help solve it. Two of his key topics are:

  • Structuring stories. Abela presents a SCORE method for sequencing evidence: Situation, Complication, Resolution, Example. The aforementioned "Assembling anecdotes" chapter talks about three types of stories we can use: 1) One that relates directly to our situation, 2) a hypothetical story, or 3) a more metaphorical one.
  • Using graphics. The book provides numerous examples of charts and other graphics, explaining which can help you best present your data. I've heard plenty of discussions of visual presentation -- Abela goes into more detail than most, staying focused on interpreting the hard evidence about how to engage an audience.

I would be proud to have written this book. At $40.50 (US$) from amazon.com, it would be a wise investment.

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