Is The Deck Ready?

Slide presentations. Love them or hate them, most of us can’t escape them. Why do they fall short so often? And what should we do about it? Should we try to avoid them entirely? Or should we strive to overcome their limitations and achieve some kind of mastery? Let’s take a moment to pause and reflect.

  • This fantastic deck by Wieden and Kennedy—a faux pitch to rebrand America in the post-Trump era—reminds us of how powerful (and fun) a really great slide presentation can be.
  • Despite the medium’s ability to reach such great heights, it’s got a serious reputation problem. For many, powerpoint has come to symbolize soul-killing office drudgery.
  • Some of our most well-known business leaders are firmly in the anti-deck camp. Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have gone so far as to completely ban powerpoint in their organizations.
  • The haters have a point. Some truly terrible things have come to life in .ppt files over the years. If you crave examples, have a look at this treasure trove from the archives of the Pentagon.
  • Before you go full Bezos, though, consider all of the wildly successful business that gained critical momentum and investor dollars from a well-crafted deck.
  • Powerpoint’s bad rap is less about the tool itself and more about how people use it. This handy example pulls many of the most common pitfalls together into single entertaining package (intentionally).
  • The worst kind of slide actually has a name. A “slideument” is just what is sounds like—an unholy combination of a slide and a document that plays neither role well.
  • The best way to avoid slideuments and other pitfalls is to shift your mindset. You’re not presenting. You’re telling a story. Your slides are a visual aid, not a crutch. They can’t make up for weak story, but they can make a strong one more engaging.
  • The simple reason for powerpoint’s inescapability is that stories are important. Your success as a marketing leader or change-maker relies on your ability to tell them well.
  • When it comes to bridging your story and your slides, we love this simple 5-minute exercise from Mark Pollard. It’s all about pulling out the key points and dialling back the rest of the noise.
  • We also like these tips on virtually presenting from Sarah Gershman. In these Zoom-filled days, presenting well is definitely harder than ever.
  • The bottom line: decks aren’t going anywhere. Thoughtful deck design is worth the time and effort. But a truly strong story can survive almost anything—even a slideument.
Issue #108
Nov 29, 2020

Further Reading