PowerPoints don’t have to be boring

I am a PowerPoint nerd. I reject the notion that slideshows have to be boring, yawn-riddled affairs, but have the potential—nay, have the pedigree—to be works of art in their own right.

The content is boring

or and

the medium is boring

Attacking just one of those singlemindedly ends up falling short. Despite the flashiness, there are some absolutely dismal Prezis out there. You can create a white page with 15 bulleted points just as easily in Keynote as you can in PowerPoint. And Haiku Deck shackles you to one point per slide while disallowing graphs and charts.

There are some people out there trying to make presentations better, like PechaKucha, which gives you 20 seconds per 20 slides to tell a story. It’s a visionary, popular (however popular a night based around giving presentations can be) expansion of the old[1/2/3 rule or the newer 10/20/30 rule (we don’t worry about math and fraction reduction in PowerPoint).

It’s a great system, because PowerPoints should be short, they should be illustrative, and, most of all, they should act as support to GREAT CONTENT.

Look at the PechaKucha greatest hits. You get topics ranging from a breakdown of workplace perks to optimizing your search for love. An artist shares his path to success, while an author talks about Japanese mythological monsters. These are all things that are interesting in their own right, with the PowerPoint now being of utmost importance to nail down straight. Switching to Keynote won’t suddenly make you Steve Jobs.

Effective storytelling has never been more important. The ability to reveal the underreported side of news events is arguably the Holy Grail of Twitter. Podcasts and services like RISK and Storycorps have popped up to record and evangelize the gospel of lore.

Small startups are getting major shoutouts for effective storytelling, like Hampton Creek and its $30M pitch deck. TED has built its empire on clear, simple, beautiful presentations that people can pick up and run with. And, shameless plug, I’ve created a PowerPoint for the purposes of love.

No matter who you are, you benefit from beautiful and moving presentations, both in terms of content as well as medium. First find a way to make your story worth listening to, and then create for it a presentation that forces people to pay attention.

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