Outside of Dogfish Head Beer and Joe Biden, my sweet little home state of Delaware doesn’t make the news all that frequently. Yesterday, of course, was a different story, and I had a hard time tearing myself away from the photos of familiar spots in Rehoboth Beach–perhaps my favorite place on the planet–being battered by waves and flooded by seawater and sand. Being thousands of miles away, watching and waiting to hear from friends and family, makes you feel, well, helpless.
But there are ways to help, and Kevin thought of a cool one—he proposed that we donate the net proceeds from this week’s in-app purchases to the Red Cross to support disaster relief efforts. So if you’ve been thinking about picking up a few new themes, this week those dollars will go to a very good cause that’s close to our hearts.
We also thought Haiku Deck would be a great way to spread the word about quick things you can do to help those affected by the monster storm. We’re working on all of them.
Haiku Deck: How did you end up using Haiku Deck for your Startup Weekend pitch?
Meghan: It was about 4 or 5 hours before we were supposed to present, and I was in charge of the visuals. Our idea was around fashion, and I was trying to figure out how to make our pitch visually appealing with PowerPoint. I really had nothing, and we were running out of time. One of the coaches, John Fulwider, came over and said we should check out Haiku Deck. As luck would have it, my laptop wasn’t working but my iPad was. I downloaded the app right away.
Haiku Deck: And then?
Meghan: We had really been struggling to find an opening image that was right. Our central idea is to help women take charge of their closets, so I typed in “Paper Doll conquer your closet,” and the absolute perfect image came up almost right away. I couldn’t believe it. The rest just flowed. We even found an image of Megan Hunt, an Omaha designer we were partnering with–incredible. An hour later, we were done.
Haiku Deck: How did Haiku Deck change the process of putting your pitch together?
Meghan: It really helped us focus in on what’s important. The text limitation encouraged us to control our message–on certain slides, it became really clear that we just had too many words. It was such an essential tool for our team.
Haiku Deck: And how was your Startup Weekend experience overall?
Meghan: It was exhausting–a ton of work–but so much fun! It was my first one, but I’ll be back.
Over the past few weeks we’ve enjoyed collaborating with Nolan Haims, VP and Presentation Director at Edelman and author of the excellent blog Present Your Story, a fantastic resource for presentation inspiration and best practices. Nolan has been keeping us on our toes to make sure we’re not unleashing the wrong kind of zen presentation style into the world. We are grateful.
Q&A with Nolan Haims
Haiku Deck: What’s your presentation design philosophy in a nutshell? (Or, for super bonus extra credit, in a haiku?)
Not just frames
Around that content
[Haiku Deck note: This is technically more of a lune. But if we've learned anything from Nolan, it's that there's always a way to further simplify. Why have 17 syllables when 12 will suffice?]
Back to Nolan: The majority of presentation design continues to be focused on templates and unintegrated elements like clipart and random rectangles of imagery thrown on slides. Presentation design is too often thought of as template design, but a heavily designed template is just a frame around your actual message. I would love to see more people spend their energies and talents laying out and designing content, focusing on information design and a visual communication of the actual messages on a slide by slide basis.
Haiku Deck: What most makes you cringe in a poorly designed presentation?
Nolan: Too much content in on-screen presentations. Simply stated: the more that is on your slide, the less your audience will absorb—or even read in the first place. Studies have shown that students learn more when presented with less. It should be the same for presenters’ audiences. This means ruthless editing and often separate, more detailed print documents. Both of these things take time, which is why I think most people simply avoid them.
But, know when your presentation is actually a print document. There’s nothing wrong with creating a detailed textual document using PowerPoint—just know the difference between that and an on-screen presentation.
Haiku Deck: It’s not every presentation expert that recommends making your presentation like a Twinkie. Could you elaborate on that a bit?
Nolan: Oh, the Twinkie bit! When I train and coach, I tell people that they should have only two goals when creating presentations: 1) clarity and 2) stickiness. It doesn’t matter how brilliant you or your message is, if an audience doesn’t clearly understand your message and then remember it, your efforts are all for naught.
Much of presentation design is rightfully focused on the clarity part, but when it comes to stickiness, the most effective way to get your audience to remember your messages is to wrap them in stories. Charts, graphs, text, and pictures don’t last. Stories can live forever.
So, think of an idea as a Twinkie’s filling: on its own, it might be delicious, but it’s hard to digest, and it won’t last. But wrap that idea in a delicious cake wrapper—a story—and it will last forever. Just like a Twinkie…
A fantastic book on the stickiness of stories is Chip and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick.
Haiku Deck: What’s the best presentation you’ve ever seen, and what did you love about it?
Nolan: I love Don Draper’s Kodak Carousel pitch from Season 1 of Mad Men. He makes use of many techniques that business presenters are hesitant to employ, but would be smart to incorporate:
Brevity: The pitch lasts just a few minutes.
Emotion: A good presentation should be a healthy mix of the analytical and emotional. While Don’s almost 100% emotional presentation style is probably too much for most non-fictional presenters, I think most presentations would be aided by more emotion.
The Personal: Every picture is a personal one of Don’s family—no stock handshakes, no guys climbing mountains; as with the emotional, most presentations would benefit from more personal touches.
Stories: Don tells a personal, visual story of his own life; it not only leaves his audience literally speechless, but will no doubt be remembered for years—only a story can do that.
Limited Text: “Kodak Introduces Carousel” is the only text on screen…
Haiku Deck: What advice do you have for Haiku Deck users who want to create strong presentations?
Nolan: Well, you could create a great Don Draper-like presentation with it, for sure. I think that Haiku Deck can be a good tool for creating a highly distilled presentation and in many ways keeping the focus on the presenter rather than the slides. Slides should always just be the backup singers—the presenter should be main attraction. But avoid the temptation of randomness and incessant metaphor in choosing imagery. If you’re selling widgets, but all your audience remembers are pictures of lemonade stands, handshakes and relay races (“teamwork!”), you haven’t created anything very sticky. Consider literal imagery when possible: How about a picture of your widget’s manufacturing process instead of one of a Swiss watchmaker?
We always love hearing what you have to say about Haiku Deck, whether it’s in the form of a Fast Company story, a blog post, a video, a tweet, or a haiku. Here are a couple of reviews that were actually created with Haiku Deck. Yes, it’s a little meta, but let’s just roll with it.
Speaking of reviews, we are so grateful to every single fan who has taken the time to rate and review us in iTunes. And if there’s something we could do to earn one more star from you, we want to hear about it. Please let us know.
A few weeks ago, Adam kicked off the Geekwire Seattle Startup Day event with a talk on why storytelling is so essential for entrepreneurs. Here’s the Haiku Deck he created for the talk (nice use of the “Starship” theme, Captain Tratt):
If we didn’t add the feature you were hoping for yet, please rest assured that there’s plenty more exciting stuff in the works! We value your feedback and suggestions tremendously, so please keep them coming–and thank you for your patience.
That said, we think this new version (now with integrated image support for Dropbox and Google Drive) is pretty snappy, and we invite you to download it, try it out, send us feedback, and (prettypleaseandthankyou) review it in iTunes. Whenever we release a new build we have to re-build our ratings and comments, and every one helps, a lot. If you do write us a review, please let us know in the comments so you can be immortalized in our Haiku Deck Hall of Fame!
And–as always–we are grateful for your support. In case you missed it earlier, here’s how we feel about our amazing fans.
We’ve heard from some educators that they want to be able use Haiku Deck with their students, but are concerned by the recommended age rating. Here’s the story.
When you create a Haiku Deck, our app combs through more than 35 million Creative Commons licensed images that were tagged with keywords when they were posted on the Internet. Our goal is to bring back beautiful and relevant pictures to accompany your words. Some photo sources have filters to prevent inappropriate content from being returned in the results. Whenever possible, we use these filters. We’re also working on ways to prevent inappropriate words from being searched at all. That said, the problem is more complex than preventing younger users from doing inappropriate searches. Photos are sometimes tagged by the photographer in unpredictable ways. For example, you could search for a word like “green” and come up with a photo of a nude body painted green.
We’ll continue to work on a solution that strikes the right balance between returning great photo results and protecting little eyes, but for the time being, we feel the 12+ rating is the best way to communicate to teachers and parents that, despite our intentions, inappropriate content may appear in the app. Over time we hope to make Haiku Deck more accessible to a broader audience. Until then, enjoy this inspiring deck, safe for viewers of all ages.
It’s sad to reflect on the fact that one of our icons has been gone for a full year. But this gem of a Haiku Deck, created by one of our fans, made us smile. Just six powerful quotes, beautifully paired with images:
The following guest post is by Dr. Michelle Mazur, award-winning speaker, author, and speech coach. Recently we noticed that she had used Haiku Deck to create a slidecast to complement her blog, “Relationally Speaking.” We invited her to share how she did it, and she very generously related her experience and a few tips.
Haiku Deck: How do you use slidecasts on your site?
Michelle: A slidecast basically allows you to record a presentation on your computer screen screen with a voiceover. It’s an excellent way to engage your audience with a dynamic multimedia presentation when you can’t be in the same room with them.
I thought a slidecast would be a unique way to make my content stand out and let my own voice shine through.
Haiku Deck: Why did you choose Haiku Deck to make your slidecast?
Michelle: I wanted to create a presentation that was visually vibrant, with great images that would hold my audience’s attention while I spoke. I was planning to use PowerPoint to make the slides, but I was dreading it–searching for hours for the right images, then designing a template that would meet my needs. When I read about Haiku Deck in Fast Company Design, I decided to give it a try.
On the first slide, I typed “What is your presentation destination?” Haiku Deck gave me the option to search for pictures related to presentation or destination. I had the perfect image for my slide in about 30 seconds. Then I formatted the text exactly the way I wanted it. WOW! I was able to create my entire 21-slide deck in less than an hour. It would have taken much, much longer in PowerPoint.
Haiku Deck: How did you actually create the slidecast?
Michelle: This was my first slidecast, and I found the software choices to be somewhat limited for Mac users. There are several free programs such as Jing and Screencast.com. I wanted to have a bit more freedom and editing power, so my decision came down to Camstasia or Screenflow. Both cost $100 and have excellent reviews, but I chose Camtasia because it has a 30-day free trial and doesn’t put a watermark on your videos.
Next, I put my script together for the voiceover. Camtasia is incredibly easy to use and they have awesome video tutorials on their site.
I practiced my voiceover a couple of times, just like I would practice an in-person presentation. When I was ready, I hit record. I got lucky and did the whole slidecast in one take. Using the built-in editing features of Camtasia, I was able to trim the beginning and end.
Finally, I exported it to YouTube. You can see the results here:
All in all, it took me about 3 hours to create my slidecast with Haiku Deck. If I had used any other presentation software, I’m sure my time would have nearly doubled.
Haiku Deck: What other tips might be helpful for people who’d like to give slidecasting a try?
Michelle: I recommend using an external microphone for professional sound. Your computer’s mic makes you sound like you’re trapped in a tin can! You can pick up a nice microphone for around $30.00.
Zooming out, if you are a blogger, entrepreneur, coach, speaker, author, or have any kind of online presence, creating a slidecast with Haiku Deck is simple. It’s a great way to engage your audience. Camtasia gives your content your unique voice, and Haiku Deck makes it a visual delight!