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The world’s best presentations. Really? 8 August, 2008

Posted by Jay Ball in Uncategorized.

The ever-excellent Slideshare is running its annual World’s Best Presentation contest. Browsing through, there are some really nice decks with interesting content. You can easily see the influence Presentation Zen and Duarte Design have had (all for the better) in the war against death by PowerPoint. I particularly like the following:


The thing that strikes me looking through most of the entries is that the presenter is almost entirely superfluous. Surely presentations, at their best, are about presenters making a connection with an audience – not simply a set of slides that can be read through (however pretty they are).

So while the competition may showcase some of the world’s best slide decks, for the best presentations you’ll still have to look to TED.



1. Nancy Duarte - 9 August, 2008

I couldn’t agree more. A presentation should have a presenter. This “presentation” is actually a lovely on-line brochure. It’s powerful in its own right but a real presentation (especially a world-class one) provides an opportunity for humans to connect in person.

2. Peter Botting - 11 September, 2008

Following on from Nancy’s comment. People as presenters must connect with an audience of people – visual aids should be just that – visual aids that demonstrate, underscore or emphasise what the presenter is saying.

The problem with Powerpoint has been an over-reliance by the vast majority of users on the (often basic use of) technology. Funkier technology and providers such as Duarte or Keynote are great and often breath-taking and a refreshing change – but still need to be tools of the presenter not their surrogates.

3. Jay Ball - 11 September, 2008

I completely agree. Slideware, sadly, is too often a crutch. This is because, for many, presenting is just plain scary and anything that focuses attention away from them is a good thing as far as they are concerned.

Of course, the paradox is that the presentation should, as Nancy says, be a vehicle for a human connection.

One of the things that struck me in Nancy’s book (which is utterly brilliant by the way) is the suggestion to use the W/B keys to go to plain white/black during a presentation. This is a dramatic way to focus attention on the presenter. And for many would be completely terrifying. But done well creates such a positive difference.

Thank you both for your comments.

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