Sep. 17th, 2009

Revelation

Sep. 17th, 2009 04:29 pm
kickaha: (Default)
I put a lot of work into my presentations, and I'm a firm believer in Tufte's philosophy that a PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentation slide deck should never do double duty as presentation slides and transcript of the presentation. It just doesn't work. Slides that are sufficiently detailed enough to be a transcript are boring to sit through, and slides that are interesting to sit through are rarely ever enough to be fully explanatory as a transcript. (If they were, you wouldn't need a *presenter*.)

Most of my slides are minimalist - an image, two or three words, and that's it - a mnemonic designed to make a central point while I talk about it for a few seconds, then blam, off to the next one.

As a corollary, I hate bullet point lists. Despise them. Throw twenty slides up in a row with (literally in some presentations I've been forced to sit through) fifteen items on each, and *no one* is going to absorb it. It's just asinine to expect anyone to read all that text while the presenter is saying something *different*, or, just as bad, sit through being read to off the slide like a kindergartener. (Pet peeve, presenters who toss up a slide like that, and say "Oh, just read this" and then continue to keep blathering on... for about five seconds, and then skip to the next slide before anyone has actually read the slide they said to read.)

Today I've been struggling with a presentation that is going to have to be doing some double-duty after all - slides are expected, but there's going to have to be a lot of text since I'm not going to be there to do the presentation in person, and it is expected that this will be passed around for critique as a primary artifact among people who won't be attending the presentation.

Obviously, the rational thing to do here is just to write a report proposal, but no, it's got to be slides. (Viva la corporate culture!)

So I've been gnashing my teeth doing these god awful bullet lists, but then... I saw this site: http://www.subtraction.com/2009/09/15/our-craigslist

It's a writeup on how a design group tackled redesigning craigslist for fun, and at the bottom they have a set of slide images... with... text. In paragraphs. And they don't suck.

They are using a nice grid layout frame, and providing plenty of negative space, but are letting the long text flow like columns in a newspaper instead of essay format on a letter-format page. The use of image placement is also gorgeous.

Revelation.

I am redoing the slides, adding *more* text, making it basically the writeup it *should* be, and you know what? It looks freaking *stunning*.

Another tool in the arsenal. "When you do need to use a lot of text, emulate long-standing text-oriented media that have worked well."

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