September 3, 2008

Presentation or picture book?

The winners have been announced in this year's "World's Best Presentation" contest at

I have some issues with this contest, the main one being that none of these slideshows is a "presentation." For a presentation to happen, you need a presenter and an audience. If a slideshow could stand alone, then none of us would ever have to show up. In which case, these can hardly be judged as the world's best presentations. (Presentation Zen's Garr Reynolds, who ended up being one of the judges this year, made this argument in depth back in a 2006 blog post.)

My slides are always created to support my presentations, not to stand alone without me. As each presentation also requires the contributions of an audience, and literally changes with each different setting and audience's input, I also find it hard to call a slideshow a presentation if there's no audience present.

That being said, I have uploaded some of my slideshows to SlideShare as an example of image-based PowerPoint as opposed to bullet- and text-heavy slides.

I frequently get e-mails from people asking for permission to download my slideshows so that they can use them as teaching aids in their classrooms. First of all, these slideshows are proprietary, but second of all, there's no content or narrative! I provide the content when I speak. A slideshow with no content makes no sense.

Another problem with SlideShare is that it doesn't show some features of PowerPoint effectively. So when I use a gradation shading behind some text, it shows up looking strange in the uploaded slideshow. Animations don't come through, either.

The winning slideshows are beautifully-designed with engaging messages, and created to tell a story without a presenter -- which makes them more of a picture book than a presentation. But check them out and see what you think.

Image: Project Gutenberg's "My First Picture Book"

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2 comments. Please add yours! :

Olivia Mitchell said...

Hi Lisa

Totally agree with your critique of slideshare - and that we should not confuse slideshare "presentations" with live presentations with an audience. I think your analogy of a slideshare presentation as a picture book is very apt too.


Lisa Braithwaite said...

Thanks, Olivia.

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