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Links to presentation-related video clips

Maninchair_2I like to spend a few hours each week watching online video clips of presentations and speeches from various fields. I receive many links to obscure or forgotten speeches of the past from Presentation Zen readers; I appreciate those links very much. Below are just a few links to presentations, interviews, and speeches that I particularly like, a potpourri of oration and conversations from science, business, politics, and the arts.

Nobel Laureate, Dr. Leon Lederman
Here you can see (click on "sync video") a very interesting talk at the "American Renaissance In Science Education: Physics First" summit held in Illinois, USA last month. Dr. Lederman is a brilliant man and very engaging as well. He's at his best in this talk when he gets away from the notes (which were also serving as visuals) and speaks more extemporaneously. You can see the visuals (transparencies) that he used. Can you think of ways that this presentation could have been even better?

My favorite line from Dr. Lederman's presentation: "What do we want them to remember ten years from now?" Exactly! Presenters, too, must ask themselves in the preparation stage, what do I want them to remember tomorrow (or next week, etc.)? The genesis of most poor presentations (or teaching?) can be traced back to the failure of the presenter to consider this question. As for high school students, what will they remember ten years from now? According to Dr. Lederman:

"They'll remember the stories you tell them or the demonstrations that you do.... They'll remember the stories you tell them of how science works and the messy process of discovery...."
                                                             -- Dr. Leon Lederman

Dr. Richard Feynman (The pleasure of finding things out)
"Nobelist Physicist, teacher, storyteller, bongo player." An engaging man. Great interview. No, excellent interview! You do not have to be a physicist to appreciate this man. See "The pleasure of finding things out." 

Frank Zappa (on censorship in the US)
Zappa gets his points across here on a Crossfire debate (1986), and in a good interview with Johnny Carson (1989). Debate teams may find the Crossfire interview especially interesting. Crossfire is no longer on the air. An appearance by Jon Stewart is rumored to have brought Crossfire down.

Dr. Martin Luther king (I have a Dream, 8/28/63)
Content, delivery, presence. Simply amazing. I've read the speech many times, but when I see and hear the speech I feel inspired and motivated. See the speech.

Steve Jobs' Commencement speech at Stanford (June, 2005)
A speech -- especially a commencement speech -- is different from a presentation, but Steve Jobs pulls this off brilliantly. A wonderful speech. The best speeches tell stories and paint pictures with words and share personal, relevant, and memorable information that have lasting meaning to the audience. (See text from the speech.)

"Demo God," Steve Jobs (circa 1992)
NeXTSTEP Release 3 Demo. One of the few CEOs who can actually do his own demos. It looks easy. It isn't.

Steve Jobs in 1984 (Macintosh introduction)
Not bad at all. But he's certainly become a much better presenter over the years. (And, thankfully, he's lost the bowtie).

Presidential Speechalist
An interview with George Bush's Presidential Speechalist, Harlan McCraney (a.k.a. Andy Dick).

Do you have any sample speeches, debates, or presentations that you think are particularly interesting? Please let us know.

Jazz and the art of connecting

NoteMost students of jazz will not go on to be professional players. And few students turned on by the creative arts in school will go on to be professional artists. And that's OK. Knowledge and understanding of the arts and the experience of pursuing excellence with, say, an instrument or a brush, etc. can teach students a lot about life and the value of focused effort, patience, teamwork, perspective, creativity, problem solving, and a million other things. All things that will serve the student well no matter what profession(s) she ends up dedicating herself to.

I made barely enough money with music to pay for my college years. Though music is not my profession today, jazz still inspires me in my professional life as well as in my personal/spiritual life. Jazz, of course, is about dialog and a kind of conversation with other musicians and a connection with the audience. Jazz is inspiring to me; it's lessons can be applied to other aspects of life, even the art of presentation. Below, then, are eleven quotes by jazz greats of yesterday and today which I find particularly inspiring and applicable. Following the list is a short video clip of a gig I did in Osaka last year with some very accomplished musicians.

(1) “The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen.” (Duke-Ellington) 
The best communicators in the world are almost always the best listeners. Talking is easy; any dope can do that. But listening is hard. The lessons learned in life come more from when we open our ears not our mouths.

(2) “Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.”

I'm not sure I've ever been taught anything about making presentations, but I have learned a ton from observing great presenters, from people like Steve Jobs to scores of people far less famous, such as college professors, etc.

(3) “Don’t bullshit… just play.” (Wynton-Marsalis)
Audiences today are busier than ever and have developed built-in "crap detectors" to filter out anything remotely insincere or shallow. They may not interrupt you or walk out of the room, but that doesn't mean they have not stopped listening. Guy Kawasaki has some good tips for those presenting to venture capitalists. If you're asking an audience for money, it is a safe bet that they will have zero tolerance for any overly optimistic views of future results unless you have strong evidence.

(4) “If they act too hip, you know they can’t play shit!” (Louis-Armstrong)
With practice we can become more polished. But too much polish turns a presentation into a TV-like infomercial unworthy of an audience's trust. Presentation is a very human thing. Practice, rehearse and make it great. But keep it real. Keep it human. And remember that it is about them (the audience), not us.

(5) “Master your instrument. Master the music. And then forget all that bullshit and just play.” (Charlie-Parker)
Studying design and presentation, communication, etc. is crucial. But when we present, all that matters is that moment and that audience. Get to the point. Tell us something memorable. Quit worrying and just inspire us or teach us (or better yet, both).

(6) “It’s taken me all my life to learn what not to play.” (Dizzy-Gillespie)

Most presentations are too long or filled with information that was unnecessary and included for the wrong reasons (such as fear). Knowing what to leave out takes work. Again, anyone can include everything and say everything, it is the master presenters (or writers, etc.) who know what to cut and have the courage to cut it.

(7) “You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere.” (John-Coltrane)

In most situations, you don't need the latest technology or the best equipment in the world. Showing that you are well prepared and ready to present naked is far more important. A poor presentation is not any better simply because expensive equipment is used to project images. Sincerity and respect for the audience matter far more.

(8) "When people believe in boundaries, they become part of them."
(Don Cherry)

Many books give prescriptions for the "best way" to present. There is no "best way" or "the correct way" to make a presentation. There are only two kinds really: good ones and bad ones. You know the difference because you've seen them both. Don't be afraid to be unconventional if you think "unconventional" will work best for your situation. Conventional wisdom is often the unwisest choice of all. "Conventional wisdom" about presentations is at best a prescription for mediocrity.

(9) “Anyone can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.” (Charles Mingus)
This is my favorite quote of all. Many presenters -- very smart people -- either take something essentially simple and confuse an audience or simply fail to make their more complicated material meaningful to their audience. Simplicity ain't easy. In fact it's hard.

(10) “I can’t stand to sing the same song the same way two nights in succession. If you can, then it ain’t music..." (Billie-Holiday)
Even if you have the same set of slides or the same key points from one night to the next, every presentation is different because every audience is different. We must avoid the "canned presentation" or the "canned pitch" at all cost. If we focus on the audience and place priority on their needs, we're on the right path.

(11) “A great teacher is one who realizes that he himself is also a student and whose goal is not to dictate the answers, but to stimulate his students creativity enough so that they go out and find the answers themselves.”

My best teachers as a child and my favorite presenters of today have this in common: they inspire, stimulate, motivate, provoke, and lead...but they do not dictate.

Live in Japan
Below is a piece recorded in a club in Japan off a simple SLR camera featuring my buddies Dr. Hanagan (p) and Taku (b) and me on the (d). I am really looking forward to playing with Dr. Hanagan again on his next trip to Japan soon.

Here's something slower from the same gig.

Steve Jobs: "Keepin' it real" in Cupertino

Cupertino_steveEach presentation situation is different, and there are many times, of course, when slideware is not necessary (or desirable). And just in case you think some of the great presenters are only great because of well-designed visuals, take a look at this informal trip to the microphone by Steve Jobs. Complete with black t-shirt and bottled water, Jobs was just as engaging in an empty room in front of the Cupertino City Council as he is under the spotlight at a large media event.

Jobs, who is gracious and yet informal and conversational when he speaks publicly, uses his casual style to paint pictures and connect with listeners, whether on stage with slides and props or not. For example, you can say the number of available and suitable properties in Cupertino is small, or you can underscore the point in a more visceral way by saying something like...

"There ain't a lot of apricot orchards left in Cupertino..."

                                                           -- Steve Jobs

If you want to see a different clip of Jobs speaking (all the way back to 2001) with the accompaniment of simple slides, checkout his presentation announcing the introduction of the iPod. I remember watching this live on monitors set up in Caffé Macs next door to where Steve was presenting. Business instructors may find the contents of this clip worthy of showing to their students, discussing market conditions then and now, etc.

Here's a short clip of Jobs announcing a bit of controversial news in 1997, the killing of the clones. Sharp and to the point...and in a language that is frank (including a couple of "S-bombs").

Thanks to Les in Australia for the great link to the Cupertino video.

Carlos Ghosn: The little things matter

Ghosn_talkCarlos Ghosn is world famous. In Japan, he's rockstar famous. He's most famous, of course, for the amazing turnaround of Nissan. That's a very a big thing. But to Carlos Ghosn, the little things are also crucial. In The Ghosn Factor, for example, Miguel Rivas-Micoud recounts how Ghosn made a special effort to painstakingly learn the proper way to use Japanese chopsticks, all while the pressures of the business challenges he faced were building. Says Rivas-Micoud:

"All he [Ghosn] could think about was how they were going to get the company back on its feet. Yet there in front of him on the desk were pictures with detailed instructions on the proper technique of using chopsticks."

The lesson for Ghosn was " matter what the problems are that you must face each day, you cannot forget the small things." Rivas-Micoud continues:

"Holding chopsticks correctly was necessary if Ghosn hoped to make a good impression on Japanese subordinates and colleagues. The lesson reminded Ghosn of the importance of the tiniest facets of managing a company. You can not ignore them, just as you cannot ignore the proper way of holding chopsticks."

Developing and refining your talents as a presenter is admittedly a small thing. But it is one of those things that will surely make a huge difference in your career.

Turn up the passion, end the confusion
Speaking at the New York International Auto Show last week, Ghosn, reportedly blasted the auto industry for being unimaginative and relying on "bland, safe, cookie-cutter designs." Ghosn, who is known for his solid speaking skills, said:

"Auto makers can either sell cars without passion and struggle with shrinking production, or they can sell cars with passion."

Ghosn is talking about the auto industry, but we could serve up a re-mix of his theme and apply his wisdom to the sorry state of business and conference presentations today as well. Here are four Ghosn-inspired items that would help presenters.

(1) Show more passion
If you want us to care, you better show that you care about your subject...deeply. You think business or science or technology are not passionate subjects? Nonsense. I saw the great Dr. Linus Pauling speak once at OSU in the '80s (he was an Oregon State alum). He was a very engaging and inspiring figure (and in his 70s I think). Dr. Richard Feyman, whom I've only seen on video, was also a passionate, and extremely engaging, articulate speaker. It's no wonder he was such a popular teacher.

(2) End cookie-cutter design
No one says you have to use PowerPoint or any other slideware for that matter. But if you do, I recommend avoiding, tired overused software templates which may get the audience saying to themselves -- even before you've had a chance to speak -- "Oh boy, here we go again. PowerPoint hell." Our content is not of the off-the-shelf, cookie-cutter variety, so why use overused templates that may imply otherwise?

(3) End confusion
Presenters should be in the business of making meaning. The audience wants data and evidence, but they also need context and the big picture. Most presentations could be less confusing if presenters simply remembered this: For your audience to understand anything, you do not need to tell them everything. You've got 20 minutes or an hour -- how can you avoid all obfuscation and confusion and leave the audience with something memorable and important? That is the question.

(4) Think benefits not technology
In a recent New York Times online interview, Ghosn talks about focusing on benefits rather than technology. "We don't push technology," Ghosn said. "We think more [in terms of] benefits than technology." We can think this way too about presentations when using the aid of modern technology, can we not? We have to always ask ourselves if there is a clear benefit to the audience for using a new piece of technology, say, a tablet PC rather than the a laptop. Just because it's cool and cutting edge does not mean it's the best choice for the moment. Besides, the technology we use should be invisible anyway. The audience doesn't need to know if we are using 35mm slides, a Mac, a PC, an iPod or displaying slides from Keynote, PowerPoint, or something else. The content of the message and our connection with the audience are all that matter.

  Passion_1  Ghosn
Sample slides from a recent presentation I made on the importance of passion in the work place.

Brand Autopsy has a discussion on branding and Ghosn's recent comments. Interesting.

Noise and elimination of the nonessential

Tokyo_noiseIn informal usage, the signal-to-noise ratio represents the ratio of useful and relevant information to superfluous or irrelevant information. We want to keep the noise down and the signal up, and the content must be rich enough and appropriate enough for the context. But each context is different. Though borrowed from the engineering field, the SNR principle can be applied to most communication design situations, too, such as building a webpage, a presentation slide, a poster or billboard, etc. The details of how much text and other visual content you actually use depends on your medium and what you're aiming to do, but the principle is the same: make sure your target audience gets the key message easily and quickly and don't tick them off with superfluous detail that amounts to no more than distracting noise.

Japan: the land of Zen simplicity and visual overload
Japan is a wonderful place. Some of the best graphic design treatments in the world are done right here. And some of the most chaotic and mad examples of graphic design and communication are also right here. If you have been to Japan you know exactly what I am talking about. Every student of design should take a study trip to Japan for a month or a year. In Japan we have a 2000 year-old culture steeped in aesthetic appreciation and tradition juxtaposed with modern, fast-paced city centers which give one the feeling of living inside a pinball machine. Insane and yet stimulating and even inspiring...most of the time.

In Japan I have found some of the best (worst?) examples of visual noise. Noise is so common in many retail settings that it's simply accepted as the norm. It's no wonder some of the ugliest, most confusing PowerPoint visuals are also found in Japan. It's all around us.

Reefer madness
One example of clutter and noise that both fascinates and annoys me is the point-of-purchase displays found in many electronic shops. Yesterday, for example, we were out shopping for a new refrigerator. We want it to be energy efficient and with a beautiful stainless steel finish. It must look good and fit with our current interior design. But as you can see from the photo below, it's very hard to imagine how this expensive appliance will look or "aesthetically fit" in our kitchen. Moreover, while the price is easy to find, it was often hard to locate the most basic information such as its exact size or energy consumption, etc. in the sea of crap pasted to the front of the appliance. The information was there, but it took effort to find it. Besides the visual noise, of course, there was the loud background music featuring the store's theme song and the shouting of enthusiastic salespeople with megaphones -- if you did not speak Japanese, you'd swear by their tone and non-verbal cues that they were yelling at you to get the hell out of their store!

Above: A snap taken at Yodobashi Camera in Osaka. How long did it take you to figure out you were looking at two refrigerators?

Above: The dining table in a design-oriented furniture store gets it. We need to imagine how the piece will look (and feel) in our home. The specs and details are there in a small sign, easy to find without searching.

Poster design: the noise continues...
Advertising posters also run the gambit in Japan. The picture below is of a poster on an Osaka train that I snapped yesterday on the way home. The poster (about 60-70cm wide) is encouraging passengers to take a trip to Gold Coast, Australia. Some of the type is no bigger than 10-12 points; I had to stick my nose to the glass to even read all that detail. Good poster design should (1) be noticed, (2) be understood, and (3) be remembered (and hopefully get the viewer to take action). I have no evidence or proof, but I can not imagine this poster was very effective at getting more business. At the very least, though, this poster deserves to be in the hall of fame of ugly poster design.


In defense of the designer, this poster is a classic example of design-by-committee; the actual designer probably became no more than a computer operator with the client saying "Add this!" "Don't forget that!" "Where's the &^*#@! koala bear?!" and so on. Sadly, this poster resembles some design-by-committee PowerPoint slides which I have seen all too often in Japan. Often the default is: "When in doubt, add more."

Graphic design -- good and bad -- is all around us. Even non-designers can learn by observing the various graphic design examples in the real world with a critical eye.

The "fish story" and conscious reduction of the nonessential

Fresh_fishSimplicity is the elimination of the superfluous. The best speakers present key messages that are simple yet not watered down, trivialized, or compromised. Their speech and their visuals get to the essence of what's important. They know how to give proper scope and yet also are skilled at going in depth and still making it all make sense. This kind of quality is usually only the result of (1) a lot of experience presenting on the same topic or (2) with a great deal of rehearsing, critique, and editing.

Through practice and experience, we can get the essence of our talk down. Here, MIT Professor, John Maeda, recalls an example of how a great deal of experience and practice helped a lecturer perfect his presentation. Recalls Maeda, "Through focusing on the basics of basics, he was able to reduce everything that he knew to the essence of what he wished to convey. This brings me to the Ninth Law of simplicity:

"Simplification most commonly occurs through conscious reduction; the more uncommon form involves subconscious compression."
                                  John Maeda, MIT

What can you do to consciously reduce the nonessential?
A few weeks ago I spoke for one of my favorite companies in Silicon Valley. One of the attendees, Deepak, wrote to me when I got back to Japan to share a story he heard while growing up in India. Here's what Deepak said:

When you talked about reducing the text on the slides, I was reminded of a story from my childhood in India. When Vijay opened his store he put up a sign that said "We Sell Fresh Fish Here." His father stopped by and said that the word "We" suggests an emphasis on the seller rather than the customer, and is really not needed. So the sign was changed to "Fresh Fish Sold Here." His brother came by and suggested that the word "here" could be done away with -- it was superfluous. doing?" Later, his neighbor stopped by to congratulate him. Then he mentioned that all passers-by could easily tell that the fish was really fresh. Mentioning the word fresh actually made it sound defensive as though there was room for doubt about the freshness. Now the sign just read: "FISH." As Vijay was walking back to his shop after a break he noticed that one could identify the fish from its smell from very far, at a distance from which one could barely read the sign. He knew there was no need for the word "FISH."

A presentation slide is different from a billboard or magazine ad (and very different from a document or website), but how can you apply the spirit of this story's message to the design of your visual messages?

Seth Godin mentioned this fish story recently as well.
MIT professor John Maeda's website on simplicity is a must read for anyone interested in design and simplicity.

A special thank you to Deepak for this great story. Does anyone know the origins of this tale?

A great (and viral) design resource

"We are all designers," says Tom Peters. "Presentation of a financial report is as much a ‘design thing’ as is the creation of a sexy-looking product." Presentation design is worthy of our "extreme obsessive study," as Peters says, but so is design in general. If you're not a designer, you may feel that the personal study of design is superfluous. After all, design is for those artsy, creative types like that crazy guy on the web team down the hall whose cubicle is crammed with two hanging mountain bikes and a six-foot Buzz Lightyear doll draped in Christmas lights. Whoa.

But it's the little things that separate one product or service from another, and even one company from another for that matter. And design is one of those seemingly little things that is...well, huge. Design is one of those "small" details that separate the winners from the losers.

  Winning_1     Details

Raising your DQ (Design Quotient)
Even if we are not professional designers, it's in our in interest to become as educated about design as we can. It's in the interest of corporations, too, that employees become as design savvy as possible. Sadly, not all companies get that (yet?). But you get that, so forge ahead and educate yourself (and others as well) as you progress in your journey. You may not be a designer, but wouldn't it be great if you could add solid knowledge and understanding about design principles and concepts to your list of skills as you advance in your career? And to the real designers out there, wouldn't you love to live in a world where senior management completely "got design" at all levels of the company?

Design education: thousands of resources
So here's a great site called Design Education: thousands of resources ( You absolutely must bookmark this site and revisit it from time to time (you can submit your recommended design-related sites at the bottom of the page). Professional designers and design students will find this site useful too. This site was started by Gustavo Machado and others. Hats off to them.

For now the site has a plethora of useful links (including some real gems) organized in various categories such as: Jobs, Advertising/Marketing, Photography, Typography, Web/Multimedia, Design blogs, and a ton of other great resources including many that are free (free photos, free fonts, free articles, etc.). Just a great site.

Advice for conference presenters

Inner_steveToday in Business Week Online, presentations coach, Carmine Gallo, has an interesting article on Steve Jobs' acclaimed presentation skills called How to Wow 'Em like Steve Jobs.

I've talked about Jobs' presentation style a lot on this site, more than any other prominent business figure. He's the best. (Gallo also highlights many other great communicators, including Jobs,  in an older BussiessWeek article called The Great Communicators.)

I don't suggest you necessarily "be like Steve." Instead I suggest you "be yourself." But -- and it's a big but -- that's easier said than done. In front of a large audience most people have a difficult time being that clear-thinking, interesting, charismatic person they are in small meetings and personal conversations. What Steve Jobs does so well, then, is to appear relaxed, natural, and enthusiastic on stage (without having to jump around). He appears absolutely confident, focused and in control, and yet warm, human, and approachable. Audiences respond well to this kind of speaker. The key is not to "be like Steve," but to be like that interesting, engaging person that you actually are.

Below are the five key points made by Gallo in the BusinessWeek article (in bold). I've added my comments under each of Gallo's points.

"Sell the Benefit"
Do not only give the "what" (statistics, features, etc.) but the "so what." Sell the meaning. Ask yourself: Who cares? Why is this important? What's it all mean?

"Practice, Practice, and Practice Some More"
A lot of practice will allow you to appear more relaxed, confident, as well as conversational and spontaneous (yet organized and focused). Practice helps you nail your story, cut out the fat, and speak more extemporarily on your key points during the presentation. Practice gives you the confidence to go more fully naked.

"Keep It Visual"
Jobs_1Slides and other visuals should help you make your point easier to grasp quickly and retain for the audience. Don't get bogged down in nitty-gritty details on a slide -- we're lucky if our audience remembers two-three key ideas from our talk the next day. There's no point drowning them in superfluous details. Focus on what is most important. Remember, complex graphs, table, etc. usually work better in your takeaway documents.

"Exude Passion, Energy, and Enthusiasm"
If you are asking people to sit for 20 minutes or an hour for your talk, it must be important. Right? And if it's important, you sure as heck must have a passion for the subject. Show that energy, show your enthusiasm. If it were only about giving information, sending a well-written document may be more effective. But it is not only about the transfer of information, it is about selling your ideas. And that selling is done better live. Non-verbal communication is powerful; don't waste the opportunity to make a real connection.

"And One More Thing..."
Here Carmine Gallo is talking about Steve Jobs' tendency to have surprises in his talks, especially at the end. A sort of "save the best for last." Audiences generally love little surprises and they are hoping to learn something new or to be unexpectedly inspired. Never be afraid to delight or to surprise, and always finish big. Conference presentations usually have a Q&A session near the end. Fine. But do not end on that. Take the last few minutes to drive your point home again in a different way such as with a relevant short story, amazing photograph or statistic, etc. Finish big with a "one more thing" not with a "well, that's all folks..."

Present different
You say it's not the same thing. You say it's easy for Jobs because his audiences love him. Yes, he has fans. But most people in your audience, too, want you to succeed. They want you to do well. Why would they want to waste their time watching a failure? Who's got time for that? Sure, they may be skeptical or hard to convince, but your enemy they are not. Also, in Jobs' case, the bar is high and the audience's expectations are higher because Jobs is always competing with his last excellent presentation. Unfortunately, a lot of conference presentations are mediocre at best and the bar of expectations is rather low. But this is good news for you. Be engaging, be clear, concise, and relevant and you just may standout above all others. So next time you speak at a conference, why not put your audience first and make a stab at being "insanely great." It's worth a shot, isn't it?

Thanks to Blackfriars Communication for the Businessweek article link.

"Slideuments" and the catch-22 for conference speakers

Slideumentation_1 Slides are slides. Documents are documents. They aren't the same thing. Attempts to merge them result in what I call the "slideument" (slide + document = slideument). Much death-by-Powerpoint suffering could be eliminated if presenters clearly separated the two in their own minds before they even started planning their talks.

Projected slides should be as visual as possible and support our point quickly, efficiently (good signal-to-noise ratio), and powerfully. The verbal content, the verbal proof, evidence, and appeal/emotion comes mostly from our spoken word. Our handout (takeaway document) is completely different. We aren't there to supply the verbal content and answer questions so we must write in a way that provides at least as much depth and scope as our live presentation. Often, however, even more depth and background information is appropriate since people can read much faster than a person can speak. Sometimes the presentation is on material found in the speaker's book or thesis, etc. In that case, the handout can be quite concise; the book or research paper is where people can go to learn more.

Do conferences encourage "slideumentation"?

By insisting that presenters submit their "PowerPoint slides" for inclusion in a future conference booklet or future download from the conference website, conference organizers force their speakers into a catch-22 situation. The presenter must say to herself: "Do I design visuals that clearly support my live talk or do I create slides that more resemble a document to be read later?" Most presenters compromise and shoot for the middle, resulting in poor supporting visuals for the live talk and a series of document-like slides filled with text and other data that do not read well (and are therefore often not read). These pseudo-documents do not read well because a series of small boxes with text and images on sheets of paper do not a document make. What results from trying to kill two birds with one stone is the "slideument." The slideument isn't effective and it isn't efficient...and it isn't pretty. Based on my trips to the US recently, the slideument appears to be a great burden on corporate America.

Slide Doc_6
Above left: a slide from a presentation on gender and equality issues in Japan. Above right: a single page from the handout. Below: how a typical merging of the two might look in the form of a "slideument."

If possible, make two sets of slides
We can't fight city hall and we can't change the conference presentation guidelines quickly. But if a conference instructs us to "submit PowerPoints" to be used as documentation of our talk, one way to insure that our live presentation visuals are the best they can be is to simply use one set of simple, clear slides for the live performance and a different set for the conference booklet or webpage download. The latter could include more written explanation, helping the slides to stand better on their own. We can include written detail in the notes view of each slide; hopefully the conference will produce PDFs of our PowerPoint slides which reveal the notes along with the slide. This is not ideal, but a work around, perhaps, if the conference requires a copy of our slides.

Example from the 05 WOMMA conference
Here is an example (pdf download) of simple slides (used for the live talk) that are saved with notes to a PDF. This is not as good as a well-written document, but it's better than a typical "slideument." And the simplicity of the visuals for the live talk was preserved. The example is from Troy Young, VP of Interactive Strategy, Organic. See more presentation slides from the WOMMA conference.

Resisting "slideumentation"
Conference guidelines and corporate rules and corporate cultures concerning the "correct way" to make presentations reinforce the legitimacy of the slideument. But the slideument is an illegitimate offspring of the projected slide and the written document. By the end of the decade, let's hope that when a typical knowledge worker in New York or New Delhi asks a colleague for an informal update on the project that she gets a speedy reply in the form of a phone call, a face-to-face conversation, or a clear email message, rather than a 20-page slideument attachment so popular today. The world will be a better place.

Related articles
How to run a useless conference (Seth Godin)
The sound of one room napping (Presentation Zen)
Resources for scientific presentations
Guy Kawasaki's tips for presenters