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Book Review: Drinking from the Fire Hose by Christopher J. Frank and Paul F. Magnone

If you have ever sat in a conference room and listened to a presentation go on and on and on and on, or if you are responsible for creating presentations that are supposed to actually engage listeners instead of putting them to sleep, you have to read Drinking from the Fire Hose: Making Smarter Decisions without Drowning in Information by Christopher J. Frank and Paul F. Magnone. It will help you figure out what data you should be paying attention to and presenting, so you are able to focus on what matters ~ and ignore the rest!

I don't generally review business books here at My Book Retreat, but I'm starting to read more for work, so I figured I'd share them as well. Drinking from the Fire Hose drew me in right away because I have, indeed, spent many hours sitting through presentations that have been completely and totally worthless in the end. The advice the authors of this book provide will help people, no matter what field they work in, focus on the most important questions and the data that helps to answer them.

The authors provide seven key points to focus on, the first of which is the Essential Question. There is so much data out there that companies can collect and analyze. But which data is really important and which can be put aside? If you focus on the essential question, whether it's what new features your customers want most or which treatments are working best for a specific diagnosis, the key is to find the data that relates to that, and ignore the rest.

Drinking from the Fire Hose ends by giving recommendations on creating presentations. This is the section I'd love to make some of the people I've worked with over the years read! The authors suggest starting by deciding what sort of meeting you are setting up (information gathering, decision making, etc.) and then stating that explicitly so people who are invited understand the purpose and their role. They also give some excellent tips on focusing on simple points during a presentation, rather than putting up slides that are filled with irrelevant information that are hard to read and understand.

I highly recommend Drinking from the Fire Hose to anyone who is in business or another field in which data collection and analysis, and presentations of that data, are common. Hopefully it will have a very positive impact on the quality of future analysis and presentations!

My rating: 4/5

For more information, visit the book's website
Read an excerpt

This review was written based on a digital galley of Drinking from the Fire Hose that I received from Penguin through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


  1. This sounds interesting, but I no longer work in the business world. I was hoping (from the title), this book would be more about how to deal with the current overload of information in our high-tech, super-connected world. Still, it sounds useful. I used to do a LOT of presenting and teaching in my old career - this would have come in handy!



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