Book reviews

This article from Business in Vancouver September 14-20, 2010; issue 1090

The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How To Be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience

By Carmine Gallo

McGraw-Hill, 2010

In spite of the title’s hype, I found this book to be full of useful advice about presenting.

Much of its message seems obvious – show your passion, tell stories to keep the audience interested, don’t fill your PowerPoint slides with too many bullet points. But how often do we refrain from showing our passion or telling stories for fear of appearing folksy or unprofessional?

Steve Jobs, legendary Apple co-founder and CEO, is famous for his charismatic announcements of new Apple products, incorporating stories, humour and messianic passion.

The best takeaway for me from this book is the way in which Gallo turns the usual method of preparing presentations inside-out.

Rather than beginning by opening presentation software, great presenters dispense with slides for most of their preparation time and use that time to conceptualize. How can your message be distilled into a powerful tagline? Why should the audience care about what you are telling it? How will your product change your listeners’ lives?

For a one-hour presentation with 30 slides, presenters should spend up to 90 hours on preparation, including 27 hours researching the topic, consulting experts, organizing ideas and sketching the shape of the presentation. Only one-third of the time is spent on creating slides. The book shows examples of Jobs’ slides, featuring almost no text, and his accompanying words.

Often, Jobs breaks from his slides to provide a live demo of his new product. There, his passion for the product and the way it will transform users’ lives blazes through without the distraction of slides.

When Jobs presented the new Apple MP3 player as “iPod. One thousand songs in your pocket,” the tagline provided headlines for media coverage around the world, allowing Apple to control how its product was portrayed.

This book is so full of useful wisdom that it should come with a checklist. Some suggestions that I particularly like are:

•sketch the broad strokes of your presentation in pictures or words before creating any slides or script;

•start out with your big idea and its tagline – why should the audience care about your topic;

•create a villain. Show the dangers that your product will prevent or fix, then reveal the conquering hero – your product; and

•describe the benefit that your product will provide to users; benefits are more captivating than features.

And don’t be afraid to demonstrate why you are so passionate about your product.

Jan Wallace is head of the David Lam Management Research Library at UBC’s Sauder School of Business.


By Richard Girling

Transworld Publishers, 2009 (new in paperback)

Acknowledging that greed has been a catalyst for both good and “evil,” Girling offers us witty observations and wide-ranging arguments in Greed. He fixes his journalistic eye on the Olympics, the war against drugs, immigration and nationalism. He shows African aid as a disguise for First World self-interest and then turns the table and exposes the corruption and bureaucracy that burdens that continent. Despite the occasional overstatement, Greed is a good read. So buy it or borrow it.

E-Habits: What You Must Do to Optimize Your Professional Digital Presence

By Elizabeth Charnock

McGraw-Hill, 2010

After years of running a digital analytics company, Charnock packs her experience into E-Habits, laying out steps you can use to present your digital persona and help control the information about you that floats in cyberspace. With guidelines on best email practices, social networking and online shopping, E-Habits is a handbook for the digital age. The “digital me” at work changed after reading this book.

What Women Want: The Global Marketplace Turns Female Friendly

By Paco Underhill

Simon & Schuster, 2010

Who makes the buying decisions in your house? In What Women Want, Underhill warns businesses of the costs that come from ignoring the female consumer. Underhill looks at the growing importance of women in the marketplace, and argues that our preferences have become options enjoyed by everyone. So, for example, I don’t want a pink car – but I do want one that I can get my bike in and out of without breaking my back. You’re welcome.

Treena Chambers is the marketing technology co-ordinator at the UBC Bookstore.

UBC Library’s first Living Library event, which was held on September 22 and featured fascinating individuals who were lent out as talking “books” to users, received some great media coverage.

CBC Radio’s Early Edition previewed the Living Library, and interviewed two of the participants. You can listen to the interview here (the Living Library segment begins at about 1:03:20): audioplayer.html?clipid=1597325680

Meanwhile, the event was also featured in Metro Vancouver and the Ubyssey.

And Raul Pacheco-Vega, one of the Living Library “books,” wrote about the event and his experience on his blog, which you can view here.

You can read more about the Living Library here.

Mining for reclamation information at UBC

By Glenn Drexhage and Eugene Barsky of the UBC Library. Special to The Northern Miner

A new offering from UBC Library at the University of British Columbia enables users to access decades of valuable information on mine reclamation for free.

Each year, the British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium is presented by the B.C. Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation (TRCR).

This first symposium was held in 1977 as a response to a need in the province for enhanced government and industry communications in the area of environmental protection and reclamation associated with mining.

Proceedings of these symposia, covering not only B.C., but also Canadian and worldwide mines, are a valuable source of information on this topic. Now, thanks to a successful collaboration between UBC Library and the TRCR, all conference papers — more than 600, dating from 1977 to the present — are available for free online.

The papers are hosted by cIRcle, UBC’s digital repository, which serves as an archive of UBC’s intellectual output. They can be found and searched at

The proceedings have proven to be a big draw. For example, the most popular paper — “Water management of the Steep Rock Iron Mines at Atikokan, Ontario during construction, operations, and after mine abandonment,” found at — has been viewed and downloaded hundreds of times, mainly by users in the U.S. and Canada, but also by those from the U.K., Portugal, China, India, Finland and Norway.

This feature is a valuable resource for anyone in the mining and related industries who is involved with reclamation. Moreover, all recent UBC dissertations, including those related to mining, are available in cIRcle for free at

For more information, please contact Eugene Barsky, Science and Engineering Librarian, at

– courtesy of the Northern Miner

The latest issue of UBC Reports features an article on a community service-learning pilot program that involved various UBC units, including the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

You can view the article here, and the entire issue of UBC Reports here.

An article on changing study habits that appears in Maclean’s magazine features comments from Dean Giustini, a Reference Librarian at UBC’s Biomedical Branch Library.

You can view the article here.

A recent article in the Georgia Straight about an online exhibit dedicated to Chinese Canadian history also cites UBC Library’s recent news about a $900,000 contribution from the Community Historical Recognition Program. This funding supports an English-Chinese Web portal entitled “Chinese Canadian Stories: Uncommon Histories from a Common Past.”

You can view the the Georgia Straight article here, and the CHRP announcement and other media coverage here.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Library





Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC | © Copyright The University of British Columbia

Spam prevention powered by Akismet