by Adam Noar
Most IN-PERSON presentations today follow a pretty simple formula:
- One Idea Per Slide
- Eliminate Text
- Show (Not Tell)
- Choose Stunning Images
- Use Colors Well
- At Most 2 Fonts (Maybe 3)
- Fight For Whitespace
However, what do you do when the presentation you’re developing is meant to be used both as a written report and as part of a live presentation?
In an ideal world, you would simply prepare two distinct deliverables:
1. A detailed written report – where you have lots of concise text to make sure the necessary context and explanation are present for your audience.
2. A slide presentation – where your slides have little to zero text, font is never smaller than 16 pt., and you (the presenter) would be able to talk through the necessary information so it need not all be physically written down on the slide.
Here’s the problem …
In reality, creating BOTH of these almost NEVER happens.
Most people simply DO NOT HAVE THE TIME to do both.
Now you might be thinking to yourself … Why not just email my visual presentation to everyone and call it a day?
The problem with this is that minimalistic/highly visual slides don’t have enough information in them to stand on their own as a document when distributed. In fact, when your presentation slides travel around with only an image and a handful of words, the readers have to fill in far too many blanks to understand their meaning. Along with this, as presentations are passed along without the presenter, important information is lost. Data is dropped that helps make your case.
So, if you find yourself in this situation where both documents are needed one potential solution is to create something that is meant to be a sort of a “hybrid” of the presentation and the document.
Nancy Duarte’s Slidedoc PowerPoint Templates
Nancy Duarte just came out with a series of PowerPoint templates called Slidedocs, that teaches you how to design visual documents in PowerPoint (or Keynote) that are meant for READING rather than PRESENTING.
I think she is certainly on to something here.
It’s clear that long and boring Microsoft Word reports are being taken over by PowerPoint since the presentation software can produce much more VISUAL reports.
Duarte is now offering Slidedocs as a FREE download that walks you through an approach to make compelling visual documents that will hold your readers attention.
Duarte, Inc. created two templates for you to download.
These PowerPoint templates are also 100% customizable. You can format them any way you please.
Slidedocs allow you to break complex ideas into small chunks of information and allows readers the time to absorb the complex information at their own pace.
Similar to presentations, each slide of a Slidedoc conveys a single important idea or concept. However, the key difference is that a Slidedoc is filled with sentences (usually 150–200 words per page) versus 40 or less words that you get with a presentation slide. Unlike a presentation slide, each page/slide of a Slidedoc should be designed to be self-explanatory (as seen in the example below).
Like a good presentation, Slidedocs should be clearly designed, highly visual and well organized. They can also include hyperlinks to external sources or internal links to jump to related pages.
Slidedocs actually borrow some specific design aspects from books. Similar to books, Slidedocs have a table of contents, clear chapter indicators, prose, page numbers, and other small design decisions that have big information architecture implications to help readers navigate the contents. Flipping through the pages of a Slidedoc should feel similar to flipping through the printed pages of a book or swiping the screen of a tablet device.
Why The Need For Slidedocs?
There’s no doubt we are a presentation culture, where we give presentations for EVERYTHING.
In fact, by some estimates, we give 350 presentations every second of every day.
We love presentations because they are one of the best ways to communicate ideas, persuade an audience to adopt an idea, and pursue a course of action. Plus they can be fun to attend if the presenter has done a nice job putting his/her slides together.
Yet, some industry leaders say that presentations are often misused and are trying to reduce presentations down to a minimum.
Jeff Bezos from Amazon is a prime example where he says:
“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a PowerPoint presentation, some type of slide show. In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points. This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience. And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a 6 page narrative memo.”
Slidedocs can also provide additional support after the presentation in order to continue the momentum and push things forward.
Here are some of the reasons why Slidedocs are useful:
- Clarity – the consistent format encourages clear, concise delivery and visualization of concepts on one page.
- Editable – the editable nature allows a Slidedoc to be a “living document” that can evolve over time.
- Sharing – they can be easily shared through an organization. Great Slidedocs can be reused over and over. Their also shareable on platforms like SlideShare.
- Mutimedia – they are flexible and interactive. They can include photos, illustrations, links and video.
The main challenge with a Slidedoc is the time required to put it together. For many people it’s hard enough to put together a nice presentation, and then to add a second deliverable on top of this could be too much for people to handle. Even if they would be nice to have.
Personally, I think it all comes down to workload and weighing the importance of having both.
In summary, Duarte’s Slidedocs have been developed to allow you to clearly communicate your message when you’re not physically present.
When information needs to be conveyed without the help of a formal presenter, Slidedocs can act as a great pre-read or follow-up material.
It’s important to note that every company is different in how they share and distribute information. Therefore, you will need to determine whether creating Slidedocs makes sense for your unique situation.
You also need to consider your time schedule and whether you really have the bandwidth to create something like this.
Just like designing presentations, creating a great Slidedoc requires a good amount of time and hard work to do it right—and that means investing in both the writing and the design.
Here’s my question for you …
After reading this article, do you think you will try creating Slidedocs? Would Slidedocs be practical in your work setting? Let me know what you think below and please try to be specific as possible.
Also, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these PowerPoint templates? If so, email them the link to this post now.
Thanks for sharing and be sure to post this article on Twitter of Facebook as well (using the sharing buttons to the left).
Slidedoc images by Nancy Duarte
Jeff Bezos image (remixed by Adam Noar) by James Duncan Davidson