Don't Picture Me Naked
by Michelle Bowden

ISBN: 978-0-9804090-3-1, Publisher: McPherson's, 2009
Reviewed by: Julie Garland McLellan*


This book caused me to revisit my presentations and rewrite my scripts. The result was noticeable and measurable: I got more liked.

Don't Picture Me Naked is an easy read, with straight talking and simple models that are intuitively grasped. It is also surprisingly comprehensive. The book starts from your motivation (i.e. Why you are presenting in the first place?) and quickly establishes the golden rule that "it's not about you; 's about the audience".

What follows is a whirlwind tour through audience analysis and development of a presentation design that allows you to be confident of influencing with skill. The steps to crafting a presentation are well thought out and easy to follow. Michelle is a master communicator; her mastery allows her to explain the mystique in layman's terms with crystal clarity.

She debunks some of the myths about mastering nerves (especially the one about picturing the audience naked) and replaces them with practical advice that really works. This is brought to life by real case studies that demonstrate how the skills can change outcomes.

The book is firmly focussed on executive presentations, either in small groups or large seminar/conference settings. This does not detract from its utility for directors and boardroom presenters. There is a section on applying the presentation design principles to other communications, including emails, which is broadly applicable. I especially liked the advice on answering impromptu questions and preparing board papers and proposals. Board meetings would run more smoothly if all directors followed this advice!

There are tips on dealing with difficult people, room set-up, nervousness, invitations and agendas; even joke and story-telling are discussed with serious expertise. The book doesn't re-invent the wheel or stake claims to expertise developed by others when referencing the work of previous authors. A bibliography or recommended reading section would be a nice addition to allow serious students to take their studies further.

The main delight in reading this book is Michelle's clear voice; it rings happily true through every page. This is a virtuoso performance from a prima donna of communications and is also an irresistible invitation to sing along. I had fun reading it, couldn't help putting it down to drag out prior presentations and tinker with them on my way through, and then used it to write a presentation from scratch. This is a book I will return to again and again.

If you do wish to picture Michelle naked, it would probably be a pleasant thought.
If you want to advance your career, just read the book and apply her techniques.
If you plan to see me presenting, don't worry; I won't be picturing you.....

* Julie Garland McLellan is a professional non-executive director, board and governance consultant and mentor. She is the author of "The Director's Dilemma", "All Above Board: Great Governance for the Government Sector" and numerous articles on corporate strategy and governance.

Julie Garland McLellan to judge 2011 Global eBook Awards