Brand and Leadership Coaching with Justin Foster

Justin Foster is an Austin-based coach that specializes in brand and leadership development as well as transition coaching. He is a co-founder of Root + River, a branding firm that believes that brand comes from the heart. In addition, Justin is a sought-after speaker — talking about leadership in branding, building culture, and spreading influence through understanding your personal mission. A heavy Haiku Deck user and Pro subscriber, Justin shared his thoughts on branding, presentations, the Socratic method, and public speaking.


Can you tell me a bit more about Root + River?

I am the co-founder of Root + River with my business partner Emily Soccorsy. We are driven by this belief that great brands are like spiritual experiences. There’s a feeling, a haptic, a limbic response when you have a great brand experience. We organize their brand around their beliefs, their mission, and their purpose for being because nobody really cares about your business model. However, they do care about why you’re in business. So the work is strictly brand strategy coaching, we don’t do any marketing execution, but we do have partners that do that. Our job, our role as we see it with entrepreneurs, CEOs, heads of marketing is to raise your brand intelligence. The more you know about brand and branding, the more you are going to be able to thrive, compete, and grow in the world — both as an individual and as an organization.


Where do you generally use Haiku Deck in your work and why did you choose Haiku Deck?

I use Haiku Deck in 90-100% of my keynote presentations and at least 80% of my workshops. When I speak, I do either a keynote, a two-hour workshop, or a half-day workshop. It’s all on the same topic, it’s just the more you do, the deeper you get, the more involved it is.

I was the CMO and co-founder of a startup called SlideKlowd which was a presentation app that allowed the audience to interact with the speaker live. I did a complete study into all the various presentation tools, and, as a speaker, I found myself consistently going back to Haiku Deck. My use of Haiku Deck was very influenced by a man named Gavin McMahon, he has a website called Make a Powerful Point. He is an engineer that is a communications specialist who was an officer in the British military and is a dear friend of mine. He taught this method of “hook, meat, pay off.” Haiku Deck was the very best at setting up the hook, meat, payoff sequence. In addition, there’s this approach that’s been around the last 10 years or so, of large images, big font, not a lot of words. Haiku Deck really gave me the discipline to do that but was easy to use.


A lot of people struggle with the “one point per slide” format with barely any information on screen. You seem to not only perform well in this format but almost to gravitate towards it. Why do you think that is?

I am a big believer in the idea of the Socratic method. The speaker doesn’t have answers, he has questions. The audience has the answers. When I use Haiku Deck in a keynote, in particular, I’m setting up a point, so each slide is to reinforce a point visually and with language. It’s not actually to explain anything, there’s no information in the sense that we would call information. It’s a starting point for a conversation. For example, one of my slides has a picture of Quanah Parker, who was the last chief of the Comanche Nation. I use him as an example, the caption is “a new kind of leader.” I am using an example from the 1870’s to point out that new kinds of leaders emerge, and it kicks off a sort of self-examination of what kind of leader you are. Haiku Deck is excellent for doing that.

I think from an overall evolution of speaking, and this is still very much kind of a murky world, the opposite of the Socratic method is the “sage from the stage,” the subject matter expert who has a PowerPoint with tons of slides with lots of data and charts and bullet points and nobody cares.

That’s the thing: that kind of presentation is endured, not appreciated. Even if you’re dealing with super analytical, left-brain engineer types, you still want to have their souls stirred. And nobody’s soul is stirred by bullet points. Not that all bullet points are bad, I use them on occasion. But as a teaching method, which is ultimately what the speakers are to do, is to inspire new learning, it’s a dead methodology. The “sage from the stage” is a dying methodology as opposed to the Socratic method. That’s my view from doing this a lot.


What advice do you have for others creating and giving presentations?

I have three points here. First, get your key points lined out. So think of it as jazz. It’s not classical or rock, it jazz, and in jazz, you have these key concepts, and the rest of it is freeform. Everybody starts with an outline, but I suggest you start with just the key concepts. The key points you want to make or the key things you want to transfer. Know what your key points are.

The visuals are art. They’re not to explain, they’re not placeholders, this is why I have a deep loathing for cheesy stock imagery. One of the worst things I see in presentations is laziness when it comes to the art of the visuals. Find strong visuals for the key points.

The third piece is: Don’t over-practice. When you over-practice, you end up with a script. If you use Haiku Deck properly and you build it around your key points and strong imagery, even if you just take a glance at a screen, or you have a confidence monitor, you should be able to speak without notes. And if you can get up there and speak without a podium, without notes, without looking at your slides, it puts you in the top 1-5% of speakers. Most people typically speak from a podium, use notes, and read their slides. If you can avoid those, then you’ve built the essence of being an effective, contemporary, sought-after speaker.


You talk about speaking off the cuff and from the heart. Do you feel like that ties back to the roots of good branding that you teach with Root + River?

Absolutely. Imagine a box of 4 sides that are the things you don’t want to do with your brand and therefore things that you don’t want to do with your speaking or writing or anything else.

No Pretense. No Primal Dominance. Don’t Posture. Don’t Pitch.

Those are true in every interaction. If you’re having a conversation, writing a blog post, giving a speech – make sure you don’t trigger those 4 P’s. That will help you position your brand, and yourself at a much more heartfelt level. Because ultimately, when you do branding the way we do it, you organize around truth and love, and truth and love have no peer. If you tell the truth and you generate love and you give love, you’re unstoppable.

TRUST THE BACON – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Justin! To learn more about Justin and Root + River, visit

To get more info on Haiku Deck and coaching, check out

“Grow your Business with Less Stress and More Success” with Jordan Evans of Language Network

We always love hearing from customers about all of the interesting ways they’re using Haiku Deck to share their ideas, tell their story, sell their products, and update their teams. When we recently heard from President of Language Network, Jordan Evans, we were inspired to learn more about how he’s using Haiku Deck to help others and to grow his business. Then when we saw the topic of his latest Haiku Deck, “Grow your Business with Less Stress and More Success,” we knew this was a story our community would want to learn more about. Here’s our interview:

Before we begin, can you tell me more about Language Network?

Language Network, is a language solutions company providing on-demand human translation and interpreting services to over 3000 organizations. We pr

Jordan Evans

Jordan Evans, President, Language Network

ovide professional language services in 200 languages with clients across healthcare, government, non-profits, and private businesses. We primarily serve customers in North America- as there is a growing need for language support since over 20% of the US population speaks another language in their home other than English.

And what is your role there?

I am President of Language Network. It is my responsibility to help our team better serve our customers with accurate and reliable translation. Our business is human powered so it’s imperative to work with great people that believe in our mission. My day is spent removing hurdles in our process, recasting our vision as a company, and meeting with customers to see how we can impact their organization in a positive way.

What types of presentations do you create?

I spend a lot of time crafting presentations for public speaking events, our internal team meetings, and for educating our customers.

When presenting I often speak on providing language access in your organization or sharing best practice with other businesses in our industry on how to grow. Recently, gave a presentation on the Five Fundamentals to Grow your Business with Less Stress and More Success.

5 Fundamentals to Grow your Business with Less Stress and More Success – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Recently, I spoke for over 2 hours after my presentation with attendees.  The feedback on the presentation was tremendous and people loved the slides!

What do you do to get ready for a successful presentation like that?

Haiku Deck allowed me to outline my talk using the “Presentation” template. I cut down massive time in formulating my talk and creating the deck. I write out the bullet points of my talk and record myself presenting from those bullet points. I then get to work creating a slide for each big idea.

My rule of thumb is spend about 30 mins of preparation and practice for every 1 minute of presentation time. (ex: 30 minute presentation requires 900 minutes or 15 hours of preparation). What’s amazing about Haiku Deck is it greatly reduced the preparation time to create the deck and I could focus energy on speaking and dry-run presenting.

You mentioned that you also recently used Haiku Deck for a board presentation. How was this process different from pulling a talk together? How did it go over?

Board Decks can be pretty dry. I made sure to follow Haiku Decks templates and imagery to make the deck a lot more engaging.  For graphs or technical slides I downloaded the editable PPT and added them with ease.

Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom with us Jordan! Do you have a story or idea you want to share with the Haiku Deck creative community? Drop us a line any time!

Here’s Your 2018 Haiku Deck Web Promo Code!

If you’re reading this post it’s probably because you’re in the process of signing up for Haiku Deck Pro on the web. Perhaps you noticed the Haiku Deck web promo code box on the page where you put in your credit card number?  You’re already convinced that Haiku Deck can unleash your inner presentation superstar, now all that’s standing between you and that high-five moment is one little Haiku Deck Web Promo Code. We want to make it easy for you!

Here’s your 2018 Haiku Deck Web Promo Code!

For a limited time, new customers subscribing on the web site using Haiku Deck web promo code 10YEARLY will get 10% off the yearly subscription! 

Though the Haiku Deck web promo code only works when you subscribe through our web site, your subscription will work across all platforms including iPad and iPhone.

Here’s what you get with a Haiku Deck Pro subscription:

  • Unlimited Haiku Deck creation and storage
  • Advanced privacy controls, keeping private decks private
  • Presentation download in .pptx format for viewing and sharing offline and for editing in apps like PowerPoint, Keynote, or Google Slides
  • Printout download in .pdf format
  • Audio narration for adding spoken word to your slides when viewed online
  • Presentation video download with your slides and voice recordings (the easiest way to make online learning modules and webinar materials!)
  • Ability to replace Haiku Deck logo with your own on the .pdf print out and full screen playback player
  • YouTube video search and embed

If we can ever help you make the most of your subscription, reach us any time via team at haikudeck dot com!

Ready to Play Bad Presentation Bingo?

We’ve all been there… The lights are low. The projector shines brightly at the front of the hotel ballroom or conference room. It’s your 6th presentation of the day and the third one since lunch where the conference presenter squints to read word-for-word off the screen. “Sorry, this one is hard to read,” is the excuse often shared- as if that’s any consolation to the audience members who checked out 30 seconds into the session.

Whether you’re attending a conference, strategic off-site, workshop, or summit, you’re bound to encounter at least a few presentations that seem to violate every rule in the book.

Here at Haiku Deck, we aim to help presentation authors abide by presentation best practices. If you’re reading this post, you’re already ahead of the game. But what’s a great presenter to do when trapped in the audience for a jargon-filled, egregiously animated, excessively bullet pointed, tiny-fonted presentation from hell?

We’ve got the perfect solution for you! Download your Bad Presentation Bingo cards, grab a few friends,, and play Haiku Deck’s Bad Presentation Bingo! When the session ends, the winner has to gently suggest to the presenter that they ought to try Haiku Deck for their next presentation. Oh, and don’t forget to Tweet or Post a photo of your completed Bad Presentation Bingo cards with #HaikuDeck for a chance to win some cool Haiku Deck SWAG.


Top 5 PowerPoint Alternatives for 2018

Half a billion people use PowerPoint and more than a few of them are looking for new alternatives in 2018. If you’re looking for a fresh approach this year, we’ve got a few ideas for you. Before you decide which method to present with, though, ask yourself what purposes your presentation materials have. At the end of the day, we wall want our story, lesson, sales pitch, or update to be compelling and memorable. For each PowerPoint alternative we’ve listed below, we’ve included a few of its best scenarios and benefits, so that you can pick the best presentation method for your purposes.

PowerPoint Alternative #1: Haiku Deck

It’s very near and dear to our hearts, as you may imagine — but not just because it’s our job. Haiku Deck embraces our favorite aspects of presentations and storytelling: simplicity, beauty, and fun. We designed the app around the key principles of great presentation design: express one idea at a time, reinforce that idea with powerful images, apply consistent formatting, and keep it simple. If you’re not familiar, watch the short video above for a taste.

Great for:

  • Inspiring your audience with memorable stories and impactful ideas illustrated with stunning images.
  • Presentations that abide by the presentation best practices that experts embrace around the world.
  • Visual Storytelling


  • Makes it quick and easy to create gorgeous presentations on the web or iPad
  • Supports you as a storyteller with over 40M Creative Commons License photos.
  • Fully mobile.
  • Your slides will look clean, attractive, and professional — without the ‘template’ feel of a PowerPoint or Keynote slideshow
  • You can print handouts from your deck
  • Your materials will be available online for easy sharing.

Someone who uses Haiku Deck:

Lots of people use Haiku Deck, for a wide range of purposes! Here are a few good examples from our gallery to check out:

PowerPoint Alternative #2: Print-Outs

PowerPoint Alternatives - Printed Handouts

Even though we’re in the presentation business, we know that sometimes a simple handout works better than a presentation.

This alternative is great for:

  • Kicking off new projects involving  lots of detail and exhaustive task lists
  • In-depth content that your team might want to reference later
  • Meetings outside of the office
  • Being prepared ahead of time so you won’t have to fuss with technology


Handouts allow your audience members to interact with the materials, and take your presentation home with them. Your attendees:

  • Can read while you speak, benefitting from both auditory and visual learning aids
  • Won’t have to divert attention to taking notes
  • Will be able to focus more energy into thinking about what you’re presenting on
  • Can share your work with others

Handouts in action:

One person who strongly advocates the use of handouts is Edward Tufte, a pioneer in the presenting world. In his words:

Overhead projectors and PowerPoint tend to leave no traces; instead give people paper, which they can read, take away, show others, make copies, and come back to you in a month and say “Didn’t you say this last month? It’s right here in your handout.”

A paper record tells your audience that you are serious, responsible, exact, credible.

PowerPoint Alternative #3: Flip-Boards / Whiteboards

PowerPoint Alternatives - Flipboards / Whiteboards

If you’ve got artistic chops or just like to scribble, you might try a using a flip board or whiteboard to present with.

This method can be great when:

  • Your topic can be diagrammed
  • If you like drawing or sketching
  • You want to brainstorm with your listeners


  • Listeners can find the physical action of drawing more engaging than looking at a screen.
  • This method allows you to be more dynamic, using different styles and colors to drive home understanding and emphasis in real time
  • You can make the presentation more interactive, inviting listeners to get involved at the whiteboard

How to pull it off:

  • Use color to your advantage. Make sure your listeners can see what you’re writing from the back of the room! Check to make sure there isn’t too much glare for your audience to see.
  • Practice beforehand. Practice writing at a whiteboard angle, which is very different from writing on paper.
  • Speak toward the audience. Remember, if your mouth is pointed at the white board, your listeners might have a hard time hearing you.
  • Include visuals with your words. Lines, shapes, and drawings make a  boring whiteboard much more compelling.

PowerPoint Alternative #4: No Slides

PowerPoint Alternatives - No Slides

Sometimes the best stories are delivered without any slides at all.
Great if:

  • You don’t have data to share
  • Your meeting topic involves interaction with the audience
  • You’re confident and entertaining


  • This method puts your personality front and center, free from visual distraction.
  • The situation lends itself nicely to connecting on a personal level with your audience
  • You can move around more, unencumbered by a projector or whiteboard


How to pull it off:

  • Use props and artifacts to illustrate your key points and trigger emotion from your listeners
  • Rehearse enough that you can deliver without a script
  • Watch the audience for visual cues you can interact with or respond to, so it feels fresh and unscripted

PowerPoint Alternative #5: Mind Maps

PowerPoint Alternatives - Mind Mapping

Mind-mapping tools are great for drawing out ideas and building connections with your audience. This can be a fun exercise and, when done correctly, keeps listeners very engaged.

Great for:

  • Idea generation
  • Strategic planning
  • Collaboration


  • Great for connecting and building upon ideas from listeners
  • Helps to organize different thoughts that come up in a free-form discussion
  • Results in a visual that gathers input, rather than showing specific findings.

So, what PowerPoint alternatives do you use?

Have another PowerPoint alternative not listed here? Any other apps you’d like to recommend? Let us know!

Your Feedback Matters!

Whether you’ve been with us for a while or are new to the Haiku Deck community, hopefully you know that we spend ALOT of time listening to customer feedback with an eye toward improving the experience. In software, there’s always more work to be done, and we rely on you to be our guide.

If you’re having trouble with the app or just wish that it did something differently, please leave us a ticket through our support site or write us an email at

If you love Haiku Deck, will you share your enthusiasm and help us spread the word? Authentic product reviews help us more than you know. Here are a few places:

  • For the Haiku Deck web app, please leave us a review on the Chrome store or G2Crowd.
  • If you use the iPad or iPhone app, please leave us a review on iTunes (open the App Store on your device and search for Haiku Deck, the click write a review).

Looking for inspiration? Here’s some kind words our users have shared about the Haiku Deck Web App.

HAIKU DECK WEB APP: TOP TWEETS – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;


4 Presentation Tips for your next Fundraiser

When you think about fundraising, do you find yourself dreading the presentation more than the fundraising itself? Do you find yourself spending more time fixing the font, the text, and the clipart rather than working on the actual content of your slides or practicing your pitch?

With thousands of nonprofits turning to Haiku Deck for help in creating their fundraising presentations, we’ve come up with 4 key principles that can help your fundraising presentation be more effective.

  1. One Idea per Slide

Your audience can not read text-heavy slides and listen to your words at the same time. Presentation and fundraising experts agree that minimizing the information on each slide, helps the audience focus on the narrative.

“Presenters often use [their slides] as a support for themselves. The effect is that they use a lot of text on the slides, which is detrimental to the information-processing by the audience,” says Brigitte Hertz1, author of the research paper ‘PowerPoint Slides as Speaking Notes.’ Text-heavy slides actually make speakers more nervous about their presentations.”

International leadership coach and fundraising trainer Marc A. Pitman says, ‘I’m increasingly becoming a fan of using one image on a slide… The results have been extraordinary. My audiences used to get a glazed-over information overload look; now they’re leaving my talks energized and seem to be getting much more from them.’2

2. Have a conversation

Don’t let your audience be passive for too long during your presentation. Start your pitch with a question that gets them thinking. Ask for a raise of hands often as you walk through the presentation.

Ask the audience questions and get them to make bets about what they think is right before giving them an answer. At the end of the talk, repeat the main points, but encourage the audience to summarize it for themselves. When people explain key points back to themselves, they learn much better than when they just hear it,’ says Art Markman3, Professor of Psychology and Marketing at the University of Texas at Austin.

No matter how short your time on stage is, the best outcome for you is when the audience remember you long after they’ve gone home.

3. Share a story

While it is important to share information about your organization and related data, keep in mind that your donors are going to have a hard time remembering most of it after your presentation is over.

‘As a general rule, people are not very interested in talks about organizations or institutions (unless they’re members of them). Ideas and stories fascinate us; organizations bore us—they’re much harder to relate to,’ says Chris Anderson4, curator of TED. ‘Don’t boast about your company; rather, tell us about the problem you’re solving.’

Listeners will remember and act upon stories that bring emotion and humanity to the organization’s work. 

4. Research your big donors

Think back to the thank you letters that you’ve received, and the ones that you remember. How was it that you remember only a handful of letters? Chances are that those were the ones that reminded you of a personal experience you’ve had.

‘Identify who your audience is and what their connection is, or might be, to your story. That way, you can focus on what words and images will resonate with them, rather than what works for you,’ says Alice Ferris, founder of GoalBusters, a consultancy that helps small to mid-size nonprofit organizations.

Research your donors prior to your fundraiser (without being too creepy) and come up with a hypothesis on why they’re interested in helping your cause. Have they donated to similar causes in the past? Addressing this during your pitch will help you stand out from other similar fundraisers that your donors might attend.

Interested in learning more? Take a look at other nonprofit presentations at

Did we mention that we offer a 50% nonprofit discount? Send us an e-mail at to get set up.


1 Here’s Why No One Is Paying Attention to Your PowerPoint Presentation by Martha C. White

2 Fundraising Secret #37: Use Powerpoint effectively by Marc A. Pitman

3 Getting an Audience to Remember Your Presentation by Art Markman

4 How to Give a Killer Presentation by Chris Anderson

Conference Presentation Tips for attendees, speakers, and organizers

If you’re speaking at conferences or events this season, we know conference presentations are never easy. Your audience will thank you for using Haiku Deck to simplify your message. But even if you’re not the one taking the stage as a keynote speaker, there are tons of ways to make the most of a conference experience using Haiku Deck to learn, spread ideas and build your network.

As we look forward to this month’s I.S.T.E. conference (see you there?), we wanted to share some tips and tricks to help conference presenters and even regular conference attendees make the most of the experience.

Before the Event

Haiku Deck is a great way to drive awareness and excitement for a conference ahead of time. You can easily embed Haiku Decks in your blog or website and share them on social channels. Don’t forget to use the event’s hashtag! Here’s a Haiku Deck we made to build buzz for the ISTE2017 conference:

ISTE 2017 – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Tips and best practices:

More “before the event” Haiku Decks:

During the Event

You can also use Haiku Deck as a fun and unique idea-sharing tool, to capture quotable gems and circulate them with your networks.

You can create a Haiku Deck recap of a particular talk, like this one by Haiku Deck Guru Wendy Townley at the ALT Summit:

Alt Summit SLC 2013: Personal Branding – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;
Another approach is to create a “highlights” Haiku Deck, with sound bites from a wide range of speakers. Here’s an example we made while sitting in the audience at the XConomy Mobile Madness Northwest Forum:

XConomy Forum Sound Bites – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Tips and best practices:

  • Consider creating the first few slides of your deck to set context in advance, so you can give the speaker(s) your full attention.
  • If there’s an event hashtag, keep an eye out for photos attendees have taken that you can incorporate into your deck, or sound bites you might have missed. (Bonus: Tweets are usually short enough to fit on a Haik Deck slide.)
  • You can even make a Haiku Deck of sound bites if you’re following along virtually, via Twitter and an event hashtag–I created this one, of the closing keynote at IntegratED PDX, on the train since I couldn’t be in the room during the talk.

More “during the event” Haiku Decks:

Post-Event Haiku Decks

There’s no better way to share what you’ve learned, key observations, trends, or things that inspired you than with a Haiku Deck wrap-up for your colleagues who couldn’t attend. As you review your notes, you can build a deck that captures your experience, like this one by Haiku Deck Guru Simon McKenzie:

How to Enrich Conferences and Events with Haiku Deck

Click to view the full Haiku Deck with notes

Tips and best practices:

More “After the Event” Haiku Decks:

The Main Event

Of course, if you are up on stage, and you are using Haiku Deck for your slides (Hai-5!), don’t forget to share them with the event attendees using the social share and embed buttons–and with us! Send a link to your deck to, and we’ll consider them for our Featured or Popular Gallery.

Need a SlideRocket Alternative? We’re here for you!

It’s official: SlideRocket will be shut down on December 31, 2013. We admire a lot of things about SlideRocket and have even had some inspiring conversations with the founder about his vision and his journey.

We’ve  seen a lot of tweets and posts about users who feel let down, frustrated, and disappointed — and looking for a SlideRocket alternative.

SlideRocket presenters, entrepreneurs, educators, and creative communicators, we invite you to join our vibrant, growing community!  Here are some cool things you can do with Haiku Deck that you might appreciate:

If we can answer any questions or help with your transition, we’re here to help!



Give Thanks with Haiku Deck

Amid the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, our potential tumble down the infamous fiscal cliff, and the not so sweet bankruptcy of Hostess Brands, there is plenty to feel down and out about. But we here at Haiku Deck believe it is important to always count the good things and remember what we are all thankful for, be it firefighters, family, or football. Create a Haiku Deck dedicated to all the things you give thanks for, click through to the web view to add personal notes, and share it with those you love most! Here’s one to get you started:

And what are we most thankful for, you ask? Our fans, of course!

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