Ten Good Decks

SlideShare is a great service and a huge repository of slideable wisdom, but it doesn't make it easy to find good stuff. In my four years with the site, I've favorited about 25 presentations. Below are the ten I wanted to share. You have probably seen some of them before.

Thinking About Innovation by Noah Brier.

How To Build a Web App, also by Noah.

Designing Interesting Moments by Bill Scott.

History of a Button by Bill DeRouchey, author of the PushClickTouch blog.

How To Do Propagation Planning by Griffin Farley.

Just Add Points? What UX Can (and Cannot) Learn From Games by Sebastian Deterding.

Pawned. Gamification and Its Discontents, a sequel to "Just Add Points?"

Connection Planningness by Jason Oke and Gareth Kay

Beyond Advertising by Adrian Ho

Level Designers, Core Space Creation and Level Flow by Matthias Worch

Bonus tracks:

  • SlideShare Zeitgeist 2009, by SlideShare.  A rare compendium of deck-related trivia:  that the average number of slides in a presentation is 19.33, that presentations in French are, on average, the longest, and that Arial is the most popular typeface.
  • Smoke - The Convenient Truth makes a strong argument why you should buy tobacco stocks, although the authors' intent might have been different.

I also have a rant (unrelated to the list above) that I felt I had to get out but that probably doesn't deserve a post of its own.

The before/after image on the top of the post is a slide from a sample SlideShare deck by Garr Reynolds, the Presentation Zen author, and it illustrates the unfortunate sideways evolution of the corporate communication genre.  We used to spend hours fumbling with PowerPoint templates and animations and slide transitions. Today, we spend hours coming up with clever one-liners and raiding Flickr and stock image banks in search of the perfect generic photo in high resolution. The result is pretty much the same, only now the image-heavy and word-light decks can't even stand on their own without the presenter to provide context.

Andrew Abela calls this new style "ballroom presentations" and he says that "conference room presentations" call for a different approach. I am not sure I completely agree with everything in the Extreme Presentation method he proposes, but the novelty is refreshing.


  1. Thanks so much. Glad you enjoy them and that you find them useful (and they sort of hang on their own). Re: that point - A few years ago I actually used the Keynote recording feature and just did a video version of a deck to put on the web, which actually turned out quite well.

  2. I love "Steal this Presentation"! Great tips.

  3. Hey Ilya - thanks for the mention. It's been great to hear that a year later people keep finding that presentation useful and provocative. And thanks for putting us in such good company, there are several excellent decks on that list that I find I keep coming back to as well.
    Hope all is well with you!

  4. Jason, Noah - thank *you*, guys. I can't remember how many times I used your slides to guide my own work.

  5. Interesting comment about the limits of Ballroom style presentations. I would very much welcome your thoughts on the Conference Room style I propose - you indicated that you don't fully agree.


    Andrew Abela

  6. As for Garr Reynold's "Ballroom style": I think that Reynold's intention is expressly that these type of slide decks never get emailed out. Like you point out, they are completely meaningless without the context. The point of the slide decks is to enhance the point that the speaker is making. If the speaker is not there, there is no point being made.

    Conversely, if there is information that needs to be shared, it should be in a format where the context is communicated. This could be as a document, as noted slides, or as the commenter above mentioned, a video presentation. Yes, this means more work, but it's necessary if you want to communicate to persuade.

  7. Hi, Andrew. Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I have only read the free ebook you offer so far, and it seems that its focus is more on formulating a convincing argument and a strategy than preparing visual aids. Unfortunately, a projected PowerPoint presentation is often a requirement and not an option even in conference rooms, so that's my starting point -- how to make PowerPoint decks better instead of replacing them altogether (which I would often love to do just as much).

  8. Jonathan, you nailed it: "The point of the slide decks is to enhance the point that the speaker is making." I don't think the semi-dressed lady in Garr's alternative does it any better than the bullets in the "before" slide.

    To paraphrase a popular saying about a drunk and a lightpost: slides should be used for illumination, not support.

  9. Hi Ilya,

    Take a look at this; it addresses the visual aids side of things, including the logic of why you're better off handing out printed slides rather than projecting them:


    I teach this method at a number of large corporations and people find the idea of turning off the projector to be very attractive once they get over how different it is.

  10. I think that idea that deck from actual ppt presenation you presented has to stand alone as an information is fundamental misconception. Medium is the message. Presentation is something you present, which basically mean you add emotional value to information. If you want something that stands alone without you than just send written report or write a book and dont bother people to come, they read at least twice faster than you could ever talk. I for example teach about political advertising and my presentations are heavy with videos and images and there is no way on earth I could make them stand alone. I also wrote a book on that topic, it has 576 pages and stands alone very good, but I wouldnt put the text from the book in ppt slides because it would bore people to death. Its McLuhan 101.

  11. @ semiotic-guerilla Agree. It's too bad nobody is going through the trouble of making both: slides to present with and a written summary for context. Usually, whatever is presented is also sent around for future reference, and it doesn't really work well for either purpose.

  12. Im in academia so I dont know how it is in corporate environment, but I have a problem with students who expect that my slides will work as substitute for their notes. Anyway. I was at the conference few days ago and the greatest presentation was without any slide. Actually guy who made it started with a story that he was once asked on the other conference: "do you have ppt presentation or something to say?". I dont know how this sounds in English but in Polish it was hillarious.


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