Book Reviews

Book By: Hal Portner
Review By: Stacy Woycheck
College of Chemical & Life Sciences
Maryland of University

Looking to develop or improve your presentation skills?  Workshops that Really Work is an excellent resource for both new and experienced presenters. The book serves as a quick reference guide to effective presentation development and delivery.  Portner takes the reader step-by-step through crucial presentation considerations.  As advisors and teachers, this book is a valuable resource for day-to-day work as well as professional development presentations.

The book’s design is one of its greatest selling points.  The chapters are short but filled with useful information.  Each chapter features an exercise to help the reader chart the progress of the development of their presentations. The book breaks presentations into manageable pieces, allowing the reader to thoroughly understand and reflect on what makes an effective workshop.  The five chapters cover assessing your potential as a presenter, understanding adult learners, designing the presentation, presenting the workshop, and growing as a presenter.  

The reader will find that this book will become an everyday resource.  The most interesting inclusion in the guide is the chapter on learning styles.  Here Portner addresses individual learning styles and multiple intelligences as he encourages presenters to think outside of the box to create engaging workshops and includes activities to stimulate each type of learner.  Additionally, the back of the book includes resources such as seating arrangements conducive for learning environments.

The book concludes by addressing how the reader can grow as a presenter.  This section will surely appeal to advisors interested in further professional development, whether it be a national conference presentation or consulting endeavor.  The chapter details a range of ideas including marketing strategies to increase your visibility, how to write captivating workshop descriptions and how to evaluate presentations.

The only weakness of the book is its sole focus on the adult workshop participant.  The book was written from the perspective of a teacher developing workshops for other teachers.  While this perspective is extremely valuable for those creating advisor training activities, it would have added to the strength of the book had age groups and the corresponding challenges been included. 

I highly recommend, Workshops that Really Work: The ABC’s of Designing and Delivering Sensational Presentations for any academic advisor or administrator interested in spicing up their presentation/teaching style whether for classroom or professional organization presentations. The book’s how-to manner means that it can be used time and time again to fine tune or re-energize your presentation style.   


Workshops That Really Work: The ABC’s of Designing and Delivering Sensational Presentations. (2005). Book by Hal Portner. Review by Stacy Woycheck
SAGE Publications 120 pp., $24.05, (paperback), ISBN #1-41291-512-0

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