Hate PowerPoint Because You Love Your Audience

Ok, I admit: it’s a bombastic title. Even worse, it’s stolen. I stole it from Entrepreneur – Startup CEO – Investor – Blogger Dharmesh Shah, who just explained why he hates Powerpoint, and we should, too. He points to Jeff Nolan’s post titled PowerPoint And The Spoken Word, which in turn links to Presentation Diva Laura “Pistachio” Fitton’s humorous piece, I don’t want them to be bored.

Client: “Should I have a PowerPoint?”

Pistachio: “Why?”

Client: “I don’t want them to be bored.”

Pistachio: “Then don’t.”

Pistachio: “Is there anything you need to tell them that you cannot do with your body or your voice?”

Client: “No.”

Pistachio: “There you go.”

Pistachio: “Uh, do you mind if I write this down for a blog post?”

The only reason the Presentation meme is not featured on TechMeme yet is that a good part of it is behind firewall, born at the SAP Marketing Community Virtual Meeting. So now I’m playing manual TechMeme, aggregating the conversation together here.

It all started by Laura giving practical advice on 10 Minutes to a Presentation that Rocks MUCH More. My favorite of her tips:

Lightning Round
Race through your presentation using no more than one sentence to explain each slide. Take no more than five seconds per slide. State the point in just one short remark. If you can’t, kill the slide. If you
can’t kill it, “maim” it until it has a point.

Then in Your Role-O-Deck (hm, I think I’ve just discovered another of her tricks, i.e. use killer titles) she speaks out against using “the deck”, a thick set of slides that are not used as visual aids by a live speaker, but as bastardized and poor replacement for MS Word, to write actual reports in SAP – in fact any large corporation.

My comment to her post is that the “ppt deck” is not only a corporate disease:

I’m involved with the startup community here, where the mentality is fresh thinking, “challenge all”, yet VC’s repeatedly ask startup Founders to send their “deck”. Deck is a nasty word, but describes what these bastardized “presentations” have become: thick and heavy.
My simple rule: if your deck is good enough to send in advance, i.e. it has enough content to convey the message, than you don’t have a presentation. Send the document, but develop another one you can use as visual aid to an actual live presentation.

Faheem Ahmed, VP of Portfolio Positioning and Messaging at SAP agrees in The myth of the “standalone” presentation:

Not all slides are presented. And there’s nothing wrong with using PPT to create useful diagrams or reports … it’s a tool just like any other. But then we shouldn’t call this set of slides a “presentation” any more. It’s a document.

He also talks against recycling presentations again and again, instead advises to define the strategic intent and develop specific ones.

So coming back to Dharmesh, does he really hate Powerpoint? No he doesn’t – not as a tool. He just hates “the deck”, and presentations that take over from the person who should be what we focus on. To illustrate his point, he shows us two examples, Mac vs. PC style:

Steve Jobs apparently wants the audience to listen to him tell the story, rather than read the slides:

Next comes a slide from Michael Dell. These are meant to be sent to someone who needs to get the full story looking at them, but when they are use as illustration to a live story, they become a distraction:

Dharmesh concludes:

If I had the talent and resources of Steve Jobs, I’d be able to create slides just fine. But I don’t (have the talent) and don’t have the resources) so I don’t like to create slides.

Hate PowerPoint because you love your audience.

I’m going to finish this with a quote from Jeff Nolan (hey, kids are always winners):

Powerpoint is like my 4 year old’s blanket, he can’t have his apple juice or go to sleep without it. Executives are afraid to not have Powerpoint, the big difference is that my 4 year old will eventually give up his blanket.



Not All Presentation Managers Are Created Equal…

Sorry if this post feels a bit tongue-in-cheek. It is.  But I can’t help making the comparison when I see both Google and Zoho announcing new features of their Presentation Managers the same day.

We can’t stop adding features!  – announces the Google Docs Blog.  Today’s newbies are PDF support and adding vector shapes.  Some shapes.. the pic to the left shows the available inventory.

The pic below lists the shapes available in Zoho Show:


Add to the above hundreds of clipart items in Zoho Show, all of which, as well as the shapes can not only be moved and resized, like those in Google, but also flipped, rotated directly by dragging them.  And of course there’s Zoho’s theme gallery to jumpstart your presentation with… and a zillion more features.

Oh, well… draw your own conclusion.  Bias alert:smile_embaressed  I am an advisor to Zoho.  Don’t just take my word – go and play with Show yourself.

Related posts: Download Squad, Googlified , Google Operating System, Google Blogoscoped


The Wait is Over – Zoho Show 2.0 is the Real Deal

If there’s one application where the benefits of collaborative creation, sharing, easy access from anywhere speak for themselves, that’s presentations. After all, we rarely create presentations to ourselves: it’s a one-to-many, or more typically few-to-many situation. But dealing with version number 115 of the Sales Presentation, just figuring out which one is current, let alone contributing to it while someone else might be working on a different version is a nightmare – and when you’re ready to present, you’re still prone to accidents like this.smile_embaressed

However, until now, we did not have a truly powerful online Presentation tool. Today (actually, on the weekend) it all changes: Zoho Show 2.0 is a truly PowerPoint-class application to collaboratively create, edit, show and share online presentations.

The user interface has been completely revamped, and you can start building your presentation by picking one of the 50+ default themes. You’ll find extensive support for shapes, clip-art, flow-charting, bullets and numbering. Images can be easily manipulated, rotated, flipped around.

Most presentations don’t start from scratch though (you had to get to version #155 somehow..), so Zoho’s import facility is now significantly improved. I’ve tested it by importing several PPT decks that had suffered some deterioration in Show 1.0 – they come out perfectly in 2.0.

Show 2.0 now is a perfect online replacement for PowerPoint, except for transition effects, which are in the plans for Zoho. And that’s a comparison from a single user’s point of view. But again, presentations are rarely single-user projects… Zoho Show has built in Chat to facilitate work with your co-creators, and it also integrates Zoho Meeting, a full-blown conferencing, desktop-sharing application. Here’s Wired on the subject:

Given the slew of new features and slick interface, it makes more sense to compare Zoho to Powerpoint than other online competitors like Google. But even against desktop apps Zoho Show comes out a ahead in many areas — version control, sharing, online collaboration and ability to embed finished slideshows on your website are all features you won’t find in most desktop applications.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I’ll stop talking – here’s a Show 2.0 presentation instead:

There’s also a video, which I am not embedding, as my blog often chokes while waiting for Viddler…you can easily watch it here though.

Finally, that remark above about the weekend: this is not a pre-announcement, Zoho Show 2.0 is ready, I’ve played with it. However, the servers will be updated this weekend, as there may be some downtime involved, and the Zoho team is trying to minimize the inconvenience. Show 2.0 is expected to be available late Sunday.

Read more on: TechCrunch, Read/WriteWeb, CenterNetworks , Mashable!, Between the Lines, Wired, Zoho Blogs

(Disclaimer: I am an Advisor to Zoho)

Update (12/15): The update appears to be done, if you log in to your Zoho account, you’ll see Show 2.0. (Remember, the update was expected later during the weekend, I’ve just accidentally discovered it now, which does not mean it’s really complete – the Zoho team might very well be still tuning it.)

There are some amazing slideshows in the Public presentations area, like this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this, just to pick a few.