What would I like to see in slide design in 2009? I would like to see presenters realize that there is a place for simplicity and a place for lots of detail–and the main thing is to know when to use each.
Olivia Mitchell of Speaking About Presenting has organized a group writing event on the topic of What would I like to see in slide design in 2009, in response to a post by Laura Bergells of Maniactive, and has asked me to participate.
The essence of Laura's post was that 2008 saw a backlash against bullet-laden slides, with a move to simplicity: more pictures, fewer words. Emblematic of this move, of course, was the publication of Garr Reynold's Presentation Zen and Nancy Duarte's Slide:ology. Laura predicts that 2009 will see a backlash against the backlash, with a return to more detailed slides.
I hope not.
At least I hope that we will get out of backlash mode and start to use different presentation styles strategically, recognizing that different presentation situations call for different presentation styles. What I wish for in 2009 is that presenters will realize that both types of presentations, simple and detailed, have their place. Regular readers of this blog will know that I am talking here about the two basic types of presentation, Ballroom (simple) and Conference Room (detailed) style.
Ballroom style presentations follow the advice of Reynolds and Duarte, with lots of images and few words, and are appropriate for informing or entertaining large audiences. Conference Room style presentations use a lot more detail, and are more suited to persuading or selling to smaller audiences; I describe how to develop effective Conference Room style presentations in detail in my book Advanced Presentations by Design. (More details on the two types of presentation here and in my Change This manifesto on Presenting to Small Audiences).
What I also wish for 2009 is that presenters will make more use of PowerPoint 2007's SmartArt feature, which is I think the greatest contribution to presentation technology in years.