Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Are bullet points the new hem length?

Some time ago, Guy Kawasaki blogged about SlideShare, a web startup for sharing/storing presentations, and a contest they were having to judge the best presentations.

The contest winners were announced, and they are worth looking at.

A few thoughts:

  • These of course aren't presentations at all. They are slide decks. Presentation materials. Minus the speaker, they aren't exactly 'presented'. That being said, I think the site/service is interesting. It would also be interesting if they supported posting video/audio of a talk along with the deck, or perhaps a transcript (like I described in my presentation-related post a while back).
  • Most of the presentations subscribe to the very image-heavy, minimal-text style used by Lawrence Lessig, Steve Jobs, and others (more on this here). The judges of this contest, like me, beleive this to be a 'winning' style of presentation. I do wonder though, if we are collectively blinded by the fact that its just plain different than what we are used to seeing. Is this the optimal solution, or are presentation styles just that... styles. Will text quantity vary with trend? And if so, as I asked in the title of this post, are bullet points the new hem length?
  • [It would be interesting to ask Seth Godin, who himself favors this style of presentation, what he things a 'purple cow' presentation looks like when all presentations look like purple cows :-)]

Those comments aside, some thoughts on the specific contest-winning 'presentations':

  • "Shift Happens" is a great example of using visuals to give facts some punch.
  • "Meet Henry" is a great story-telling, single message sales pitch.
  • While a little text-heavier than the others, "Unlocking Cool" uses some 'big font' slides to drive key points home (Slide twelve's "Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast" slide is a great example)

In any case, there are some good lessons to be learned here. The site is worth bookmarking.