Management guru, Tom Peters, is at it again. You can call him what you will. You may even call him crazy. But he is also correct, I believe, in his jumping-up-and-down, evangelical endorsement of the power and importance of design.
Tom has four new books that have just hit the shelves comprising what is called the Tom Peters Essentials series. Actually, these are a repackaging of 2003's Re-imagine, but the smaller size make these very practical for taking on a train, or plane, or just down the street to the local Starbucks. I picked up my copy of Design yesterday, and I am very glad I did. Take a look at the cover (right). You can see Tom's mantra without even cracking the book — innovate, differentiate, communicate. Amen, Tom.
There are many good bits in this book that we can relate to the importance of presentation design as well. For example, in the book's Branding from the Heart section's "top-10-to-dos" list:
(7) Be a class "act." Rehearse your Brand Leadership thing with all the care and performative zeal of a...master thespian. Mantra: Look the part.
If you are going to be a leader, then you have got to be an outstanding communicator, motivator, story teller, and pitchman/pitchwoman.
(8) Stay soft. Cultivate a flair for the so-called "soft stuff" — the not-easily quantifiable heart and soul and blood and sinew of Who You Are. (Hint: You are not Your Numbers.)
Presentation skill is soft. Outstanding design of your visuals and supporting documents is soft. But without having great communication and presentation skills, life in business (academia, etc.) is hard. The thing about "soft" is... it's hard. But as we all know, the skills or abilities most valuable to us are often those which were the hardest to achieve. If it (excellent presentation skill) were easy, everyone would be doing it. But everyone certainly is not doing it. This is a very real, very strategic, potentially very profitable (and I just don't mean financially) area in which to differentiate yourself, your staff or your firm.