The Most Inspiring Presentations of 2014

Our Picks for Decks of the Year

It’s one of my favorite times — when we look back at the most inspiring presentations created in 2014 and select our favorites to be honored as Decks of the Year.

Previous honorees and new ones, stylish decks and informative ones, beautiful Creative Commons images and custom collages — there’s a bit of everything in this year’s list, and we hope you’ll find something that inspires you.

1. Most Stylish

Scandinavian Interior Design Trends, by Emma Fexeus

Scandinavian Interior Design Trends 2013 – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Theme: Five Seven Five

Why We Love It:

  • Inspiring, visual subject matter
  • Gorgeous use of custom photo collages. {Learn how in Import Images to Haiku Deck like a Pro.}
  • Polished, consistent formatting featuring high-impact white text over stunning visuals, punctuated with solid black backgrounds

We can’t wait to see what ultra-talented design blogger Emma will create with Haiku Deck next!

2. Most Personality

How To Get a Startup  Job, by Kim Pham

How to get a startup job – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Theme: Cinematic

Why We Love It:

  • Kim’s use of candid personal photos, punctuated by high-impact solid backgrounds, makes her deck feel authentic yet polished.
  • Her well-crafted slides and Notes are packed with succinct, useful advice.
  • Those solid red backgrounds with the crisp white text just knock our socks off. Hai-5, Kim!

Honorable Mention
Random Rants about Sales – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

3. Most Artistic

How to Work with Your Dad, by Alexander Charner

How To Work With Your Dad – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Theme: Iditarod (One of our absolute favorites, and newly available on the web!)

Why We Love It:

  • Alexander’s striking illustrations, created on the iPad with Paper by FiftyThree, give his Haiku Deck a truly one-of-a-kind look.
  • He incorporates a variety of paragraph slide layouts effectively to give his deck rhythm and flow.
  • Created for Father’s Day, this lovely work of art perfectly balances personal sentiment with broad appeal. We’ll look forward to your next inspiration, Alexander!

4. Most Helpful

10 Productivity Hacks for Spring, by Blakely Aguilar

10 Productivity Hacks For Spring – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Theme: Zissou

Why We Love It:

  • This is an ideal use of Haiku Deck — short, sweet, to the point. {Create your own deck like this in just a few minutes with our handy Idea Sharing template.}
  • Great tips! We definitely try to observe “fluff-free meetings” here at the office, and I’m an especially big fan of the “say no” tactic.
  • This is just one in a series of stand-out Haiku Decks created by the resourceful team at PGI and shared on SlideShare. {Uploading to SlideShare is a terrific way to amplify your reach: This one got nearly 20K combined views!} Blakely discovered that with Haiku Deck, they were able to produce useful, shareable content at a fraction of the cost of custom PowerPoints. Keep those great Haiku Decks coming, team PGI!

Honorable Mentions:
7 Tips to Prep for Long Day Rides! – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
by Irene Yam and
How to find inspiration – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
by Melissa Johnson

5. Best Use of Custom Imagery

How to Make Micro-Content, by Danielle Oteri

How to Make Micro-content – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Theme: Volterra

Why We Love It:

  • Danielle’s Haiku Deck is crisp, cohesive, and filled with tasty content marketing advice.
  • She incorporates artful photo collages as well as perfectly chosen snapshots to illustrate her points effectively. {See also: Import Images Like a Pro.}
  • Cream puffs! Enough said.

6. Best Use of Imagery

Sharing Infrastructure, by John Sheridan

Sharing Infrastructure – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Theme: Strangelove (Newly available on the web!)

Why We Love It:

  • Australia’s CTO always wows us with his creative uses of Haiku Deck to share insights about technology infrastructure.
  • Each well-chosen image in this to-the-point deck is evocative and packed with storytelling power.
  • John also uses the Notes effectively to elaborate his points while keeping the wording on his slides crisp. Hai-5, John!

Honorable Mention:
Persuasive Speaking – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
by Jonathan Tran

 7. Most Thought-Provoking

Leanership: A New Way Of Work – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
by Stowe Boyd

Leanership: A New Way Of Work – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Theme: Zissou

Why We Love It:

  • Stowe’s Haiku Deck stands out for its depth and substance. He packs so much clarifying detail into the Notes that this Haiku Deck could easily stand alone as an ebook.
  • It’s a terrific example of sharing a groundbreaking idea in manifesto form.
  • His use of THIS (NOT THAT) headlines creates a compelling sense of rhythm, bringing his concept into focus in the process. We’d love to see more of your thoughts on the future of work in Haiku Deck form, Stowe!

8. Most Progressive

Quotes from Women Developers and Engineers, by Arabella Santiago

Quotes from Women Developers and Engineers – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;
Theme: Volterra

Why We Love It:

  • Quotes from today’s tech leaders and the great Grace Hopper. What’s not to love?
  • Excellent use of Notes to add context and background.
  • Concise and focused — A perfect use of Haiku Deck. We’d love to see a series of these!

9. Best Education Presentation

Digital Citizenship Lessons, by Susan Spellman Cann

Digital Citizenship Lessons – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Theme: Volterra

Why We Love It:

  • Digital citizenship is something we should all be thinking about — Susan’s beautifully crafted deck is thought-provoking and powerful for Internet users of all ages.
  • Her use of solid-color backgrounds in a rainbow of colors, interspersed with high-impact, evocative visuals, create a powerful rhythm.
  • All of Susan’s Haiku Decks are brimming with positive energy and inspire us to be better people. Keep on improving the world with your beautiful inspirations, Susan!

Honorable Mention:
Digital Storytelling – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
by Judy Arzt

10. Most Informative

Badass Blogging: Best Practices to Enhance Your Customer Reach, by Virginia Nussey of Bruce Clay, Inc.

Badass Blogging: Best Practices to Enhance Your Customer Reach – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;


Theme: Orwell (Newly available on the web!)

Why We Love It:

  1. This beautifully crafted 36-slide deck packs in a book’s worth of specific, detailed tips for bloggers.
  2. The delivery is engaging and packed with personality, with punchy text and well-chosen images.
  3. Virginia’s detailed Notes add helpful background and make you feel like she’s in the room. We can’t wait to see more Haiku Decks from you, Virginia!

Honorable MentionsHow To Ensure Your Website is Inbound-Ready, by Penny Baldwin-French, and 7 Reasons You Must Curate Content, by Martin Smith (both excellent reads for marketers)

Congratulations to all of this year’s honorees — and special thanks to all of you who have created, enjoyed, and shared inspiring presentations throughout the year. We are incredibly grateful for your creativity and support, and we wish you a happy and productive 2015!

More Inspiring Presentations

Create Your Own Inspiring Presentations

I’d love to see YOUR Haiku Deck on next year’s list! Here are a few resources to help you create wow-worthy presentations.


The New Corporate Template

Corporate Templates: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

To me, a corporate template is kind of like a pinstripe suit — professional and conservative, but (usually) not particularly exciting.

Most corporate templates are like a pinstripe suit: professional, but not exciting

Templates are like pinstripes: professional, but not particularly exciting

And let’s face it — the corporate template is as pervasive as bad PowerPoint in today’s business culture.

Nearly every company and brand has one, and in my role as Haiku Deck’s Chief Inspiration Officer, I’ve seen plenty of them — beautiful, bland, and downright hideous.


This would fall into the latter category….

Now as a bona fide brand geek, I appreciate that there are plenty of great intentions behind most corporate templates — they keep brand expression consistent, they give presentations a cohesive, polished look, and (in most cases) they give presentation creators a leg up in terms of design, structure, and layout.

But I believe corporate templates also have a few drawbacks that are worth noting:

1. They take valuable space (and attention) away from the content being presented.

2. In the rush of presentation prep, slides from different templates are often combined into a single presentation, resulting in a mishmash instead of a polished whole.

3. Just like a presentation using endless header-and-bullet slides, corporate templates can set a tone of uniformity and, well, corporateness that subtly signals “This is going to be boring.” Especially in longer presentations, it gets monotonous.

Zooming out a bit, corporate templates do not exactly encourage creativity or inspiration on the part of the presenter, and I can’t help but feel that at some level they disrespect the intelligence of the audience. Putting a logo or a company name on every single slide seems to suggest that the audience is going to forget where they are, or who they’re talking to. It’s just overkill.

Putting a logo on every single slide seems to suggest that the audience is going to forget who they’re talking to.

Bottom line: It’s really only your company who cares about your company template.

A New Take on the Template

I love working with companies, large and small, to help them create beautifully branded Haiku Decks that loosen the tie, so to speak, on the typically stuffy corporate template.

Here’s one we created for our friends at OfficeNinjas:

The OfficeNinjas Story – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Here’s another example of a Haiku Deck that’s branded with a lighter touch:

Ideas that Stick – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

7 Strategies for a More Creative Corporate Template

You might not be able to abandon your corporate template wholesale, but perhaps you can experiment a bit. Here are my top tips to help you try out this new approach.

1. Try putting your logo on the first and last slides, not on every slide. (Tip: The new Haiku Deck logo layout is ideal for this.)

Haiku Deck: Startup Story – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
The new Haiku Deck logo slide layout makes this a snap[/caption]

2. Include boilerplate or legalese on one slide, not every slide.

3. Include your hashtag or Twitter handle at the beginning of your presentation (or sprinkle throughout), not on every slide.

Visual Storytelling with Haiku Deck – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
Include your hashtag at the beginning of your presentation, not on every slide[/caption]

4. Include your contact info at the end of your presentation, not (you guessed it) on every slide.

New corporate template: Sample contact info slide

Sample contact info slide to close a presentation

5. Instead of repeating slide headings, try using solid-color, standalone slides to introduce new topics or sections. (Tip: In Haiku Deck, you can now create solid-color backgrounds to match your brand colors using the new color picker.)

New corporate template: Sample section break slide

Try a solid-color section break slide instead of repeating slide headers

6. Use creative imagery to evoke or illustrate your brand — you don’t have to resort to logos alone. You can include images of actual products, people, places, or symbolic objects that relate to your brand or company.

For example, when I give talks about Haiku Deck, I prefer to represent our brand with beautiful images of colorful origami instead of showing our logo over and over again.

10 Tips to Transform Your Presentations – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
Try using evocative imagery to express your brand in place of logos[/caption]

7. Experiment with choosing photographs and colorful backgrounds that showcase your brand colors in a more stimulating way.  If your company colors are, say, blue and green, try doing an image search for “blue green,” “blue green abstract,” or “blue green pattern.” (Tip: You can now match your brand’s colors exactly using custom color slide backgrounds.)

New Corporate Template: Using abstract colors

Try using abstract patterns in your brand colors for a creative twist

New corporate template: Using abstract patterns in brand colors

Your Turn

What ideas do you have for loosening the tie on the corporate template? We’d love to hear your thoughts and see your examples — feel free to share your creations at

More Helpful Resources

If you found this article helpful, you might enjoy these as well:

Think Like a Red Bull Soapbox Racer for Epic Presentations

The world-famous Red Bull Soapbox Race is coming to our hometown this summer, and we have a shot at being one of 40 teams angling for glory. This got us to thinking: What can this crazy-creative, adrenaline-filled, crowd-pleasing event teach us about presentations?

We created this Haiku Deck to capture 6 quick tips for winning presentations, all illustrated with entertaining photographs of previous Red Bull Soapbox creations from our killer Creative Commons image search.

You can spin through it in less time than it’ll take us to (fingers crossed) steer our oversized origami crane down Yesler Way toward the finish line. If you like our tips, you can help us secure a spot in the lineup by tweeting the Haiku Deck, or posting your favorite slide to Instagram, using the hashtag #TeamHaikuDeck.

Think Like a Red Bull Soapbox Racer

As always, your support is the wind beneath our colorful paper wings!

P.S. If you’re really in the mood to send a little love to #TeamHaikuDeck — who is working really hard to make your presentations speedier to create and save across all your devices — you can also vote for us in the Tabby Awards Users’ Choice awards. (Just search for “Haiku Deck” on the page, then scroll down a bit to click the red bar that says Haiku Deck.)

A Field Guide to Haiku Deck’s Free Themes

Free Themes for Presentations

Haiku Deck themes keep your decks looking stylish and cohesive from beginning to end, with a professionally designed combination of font, image filter, and color palette for your charts and graphs. Haiku Deck’s twenty free themes are available in both the Haiku Deck iPad app, and the Haiku Deck Web App.

To find the themes, just look for the FONTS/THEMES button in the top center of the Haiku Deck editor.

change theme

click image to see a short video of the theme button

Twenty Free Themes

Five Seven Five

Your ideas unleashed

Floating on a summer breeze–

Set your story free.

Our default theme, available in both upper and lower case.

Haiku Deck Five Seven Five

See more example slides and decks on our Five Seven Five Theme Pinterest board.


Zip around in style with this theme’s classic curves and clean lines. Optional image filter makes colors bright and warm, like a favorite Pucci scarf. For jaunty journals or the perfect panini recipe, live La Vita Bella with Volterra.

Available in both upper and lower case.

Haiku Deck Volterra Theme

See more examples on our Volterra Theme Pinterest board.


The stylish sepia wash captures the imagination and steals the scene like a charmingly roguish hero. Whether you’re building out the backstory, presenting a retrospective, or bringing a magical new idea to life, Picaresque is pitch perfect. Available in both upper  and lower case.

Haiku Deck Picaresque Theme

See more example slides and decks on our Picaresque Theme Pinterest board.


Every colorful crane starts with a simple square of paper. This crisp, lighthearted theme with optional shadow-border filter is ideal for illustrating a blog post, enlivening a meeting agenda, or sending a personal message that’s truly a work of art.

Available in both upper and lower case.

Haiku Deck Origami Theme

See more examples on our Origami Theme Pinterest board.


Walk your big idea down the red carpet with this sweeping theme. Whether you’re storyboarding a script, thanking your supporters, or projecting your grand vision, Cinematic is the star of the show. Optional filter teases out the greens for a cinematographer’s touch.

Available uppercase only.

Haiku Deck Cinematic Theme

See more examples on our Cinematic Theme Pinterest board.


Chart your course and explore new depths of meaning with this boldly exquisite theme. Zissou is perfect for presenting a plan, telling a mesmerizing story, and sharing highlights from your adventures, undersea or otherwise.

Available in both upper and lower case.

Haiku Deck Zissou Theme

See more examples on our Zissou Theme Pinterest board.


Bold curves paired with flowing script make this bracing theme an all-season winner. Chill the image tones with optional muted filter. When you’re rallying your team or pitching for a place in the race, you’ll glide to a strong finish with Iditarod.


See more example slides and decks in the Iditarod theme on our Iditarod Theme Pinterest board.


Hardworking and tough, Foundry rolls up its sleeves to make your words pop more strongly. In this theme your words do the heavy lifting, while images fade to the background in a sturdy wash of color. Inspired by work shirts, tool sets, and hard hats, this theme says it’s ok to sweat over a great idea.

Available in upper case only.


Visit our Foundry Theme Pinterest board to see more example slides and decks.


This fresh, bracing theme with an optional vintage fade filter will put the wind in your creative sails. When you’re summarizing a discussion or making a pitch, reel them in with Nantucket.

Available in upper case only.


See more examples on our Nantucket Theme Pinterest board.


When it’s time to plot your course to the future, this theme takes you there at warp speed. Starship engages everyone’s inner geek and puts bold mission statements (or ship’s logs, for that matter) in your command.

Available in both upper and lower case.


Visit our Starship Theme Pinterest board to see more examples in this theme.


Get the crowd chanting your name with this hard-working theme that’s overflowing with scrappy heart. If you’re proclaiming your manifesto or rallying a roomful, Underdog is in your corner. Optional black-and-white filter for maximum punch.

Available in both upper and lower case.


See more examples on our Underdog Theme Pinterest board.


Invigorate your ideas with this fresh, fluid theme that sweeps away the dusty cobwebs of dullness. Choose Clean to infuse your insights, innovations, and inspirations with sparkling vitality and clarity.

Available in both upper and lower case.


See more examples on our Clean Theme Pinterest board.


When you need a no-nonsense, straight-shooting look with just the right mix of magic and mettle, this theme won’t let you down. For stand-out status reports or noteworthy lecture recaps, tell it how it is with Kalamazoo. Optional filter boosts the mood with bluish tones.

Available in both upper and lower case.


Visit our Kalamazoo Theme Pinterest board to see more examples.


This theme, crisp and clean as a well-chilled pinot grigio, pairs perfectly with precise language and tasty images. When you’re serving up meeting notes, spicing up a list, or selling your daily special, choose Tabletop to set the table with style.

Available in upper case only.


See more examples on our Tabletop Theme Pinterest board.


This timeless style with optional black-and-white filter makes every story look like a classic. Pull together a snappy top 10 list, a high-impact how-to lesson, or a heartfelt homage with Fedora.

Available in both upper and lower case.


Visit our Fedora Theme Pinterest board to see more examples.


This evocative theme with optional saturated filter is a colorful canvas for vivid verbs, punchy adjectives, and broad strokes. Set the stage, illustrate your brand values, and tell your stories like a literary legend with Novella.

Available in upper case only.


See more example slides and decks on our Novella Theme Pinterest board.


Give the same-old the smackdown with this exuberant theme that’s more colorful than a Tijuana dive bar. Grab Lucha to give the play-by-play of a larger-than-life event or to craft a visual resume that showcases your singular style.

Lucha is available in upper and lower case.


Visit our Lucha Theme Pinterest board to see more examples.


Champion your cause and exert mind control with this compelling theme. Wherever your vision falls on the dystopian-to-utopian scale, speak the truth and cultivate your own cult of personality with Orwell. Optional fade filter maximizes the mood.

Available in upper case only.


To see more examples visit our Orwell Theme Pinterest board.


The premier loves surprises, and so does your audience. Stop worrying and learn to love fist-shaking speeches with this roundly retro theme (sepia filter optional). When you’re in the hot seat for think tank findings, conspiracy theories, or war room briefings, let Strangelove be your fail-safe.

Available in upper and lower case font.


See more examples on our Strangelove Theme Pinterest board.


Originally a secret theme only available by knowing a code to enter in the app, Illuminati is now available on the web and the iPad app. Shed light on mysterious subjects with the optional vignette filter. Build intrigue with the strong, old-world serif font face. When you want to draw in a crowd or keep your audience awaiting each slide with bated breath, Illuminati is the theme for you.

Available in upper case only.


See more examples on our Illuminati Theme Pinterest board.

More About Haiku Deck Themes

Which is your favorite of our free themes? We’d love to hear in the comments.

(*Updated December, 2014)

A Field Guide to Haiku Deck’s Premium Themes

We’ve made all of our themes free! Check out the details here.

More Poetry Project Ideas

We have loved seeing so many amazing poetry-themed Haiku Decks this month! Here are three more fantastic poetry project ideas submitted by teachers.

1. Spring Sensory Poems (Grade 1)

Submitted by Carrie Bresnehen, Cox Elementary – Cedar Park, TX

Learning Objectives

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL1.4: Identify words and phrases in stories or poems that suggest feelings to appeal to the senses


Haiku Deck iPad App or Haiku Deck Web App (free)

Activity Description

  1. Discuss the five senses and sensory words. What might you see on a walk in the spring? What might you smell? Etc. Take a walk or read a spring book.
  2. Create lists of sensory phrases for each of the five senses.
  3. Students use lists as ideas to create their own “spring is” poem.
  4. Students publish their work using Haiku Deck and share their finished product with the class.

Pro Tip

Creating word lists and a class example help students understand the project.

Carrie loves Haiku Deck because….

“Young students can easily create amazing projects!”

2. Wondering About Kindness (Grade 5)

Submitted by Donna Adkins, Fairlands Elementary School, Pleasanton, CA

Learning Objectives

Our team of fifth graders had several learning objectives, including:

  • Learning how to use Haiku Deck (shared classroom iPad)
  • Working collaboratively to share our thinking
  • Responding to literature (We are reading the book Wonder, by R.J. Palacio)
  • Really thinking of what the word kind means, and what kindness really looks like and feels like

Some of the standards this project touched on included:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.4: Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative language such as metaphors and similes.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.5.7: Analyze how visual and multimedia elements contribute to the meaning, tone, or beauty of a text (e.g., graphic novel, multimedia presentation of fiction, folktale, myth, poem).
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.5.6: With some guidance and support from adults, use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of two pages in a single sitting.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.1: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 5 topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.


Students access published works related to the theme of “Kindness.” For our class, we are reading the book Wonder. The theme of Wonder is kindness as well as acceptance of self and others. Any book that has a strong theme relating to character education would support the project.

In addition to print resources, our school participates in a character education program that helps students recognize and develop various positive character traits, including kindness. This program, “Soul Shoppe,” is a schoolwide character education initiative.

Activity Description

    • After reading Wonder as a group, students wrote several reflections about what “Kind” is and how it affects them in reading journals.
    • Using an iPad and class list, student leaders worked with individual students to create the slide deck on my teacher account.
    • The teacher checked the deck for spelling and grammar only, then published the student work.
    • Work was shared with family and friends.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Pro Tip

My biggest tip is to just let the students do it and not try and “help” them or worry about whether it is “perfect.”

Donna says….

“My students really love sharing their thinking. They loved the images that were available. I loved that they could do this easily without me.”

3. Spring Poetry (Grade 3)

Submitted by Smita Kolhatkar, Barron Park Elementary – Palo Alto, CA

Learning Objectives

  • Learn various styles of poetry
  • Work on word work (vocabulary)
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.5: Learn process of revision
  • With guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, and editing. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of Language standards 1-3 up to and including grade 3 here.)
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.3.6: Publish digitally
  • With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.


Activity Description

  1. Students wrote their poems on paper.
  2. They then typed and revised them in Google Docs, using the new Google Docs Thesaurus Add-on (fantastic feature!).
  3. After a few iterations, they used Haiku Deck to type their poems, associating each line with a pertinent image.
  4. They played Haiku Deck in Play mode and took a screen shot of each slide (picture + text).
  5. They imported those pictures into Explain Everything from the Camera Roll.
  6. They added their voice and annotation.
  7. Students saved the end product as a video in the Camera Roll.
Poetry Project Ideas: Spring Poetry

See the final video on Smita’s blog

Pro Tips

  • The sound reduction microphone is not a must. However, the quieter an environment for students to record, the better the quality of the product.
  • Ensure that the images really connect with the pictures.
  • For teachers: Frontload the meaning of poetry, emphasize the process of revision, and focus on 1 or 2 key areas of revision.

Smita’s favorite thing about Haiku Deck is….

“The fantastic pictures. They are simply amazing.”

More Poetry Project Inspiration

Don’t miss 12 Awesome Poetry Project Ideas for All Ages

Special thanks to Carrie, Donna, and Smita for sharing their poetry project ideas! If you have additional tips or inspirations, please share them in the comments. And if you have a photography-themed Haiku Deck project idea to share, we’re collecting those throughout May.

Six Simple Suggestions for Poetic Presentations

Poetic Presentations

Presentations are pervasive, perhaps unavoidable, in modern business culture. We depend upon them to document details and dictate discussion. We use them to inform and to teach.

But shouldn’t presentations also inspire? Can they be evocative as well as informational?

I believe they can, and I think a lot about the qualities that make presentations feel poetic rather than pedestrian.

Poetic Building Blocks

I’ll spare you the cliche of starting with the dictionary definition (see #2 below), but most descriptions touch on these essential components of poetry: the expression of feelings and ideas, distinctive style, rhythm, beauty, intensity of emotion, and brevity.

1. Expression

To me, the most important element of a poetic presentation is a single, powerful idea to build around, to expand upon, to infuse every aspect of your creation. Think of this as your creative hook or your angle. Without a strong underlying inspiration or theme, presentations can end up feeling rambling, jumbled, or disjointed — just a sequence of slides.

The Dragonfly Effect, an inspiring book and blog about how social media can drive social change, is a great example of how powerful a cohesive creative hook can be. I incorporated beautiful dragonfly imagery into this presentation I made to share the team’s unique approach.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Poetry in Practice: When you’re crafting a presentation, give yourself some time up front to identify a theme you can carry through. This could be a metaphorical idea, a powerful phrase, or some other unifying creative thread. I often get my ideas from exploring in the Haiku Deck image search.

2. Distinctive Style

There are a wide variety of unique poetic forms, each with its own mood, character, and general format. The same is true for presentations. Whether you are sharing a lighthearted list or making an impassioned case for a cause you care about, select a style that fits and carry it through cohesively. Each presentation you create should feel distinct, in a way that suits its unique purpose.

The other important point here is to be distinctive — which means taking special care to avoid cliche in subject matter, wording, and image choice.

I love how Mel Carson uses black & white portraits in this presentation promoting his book, Pioneers of Digital. The overall effect feels unified and perfectly tailored to its subject.

Pioneers Of Digital – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Poetry in Practice: Instead of templatizing your presentations, select fonts and images to reinforce your mood and theme. As you develop each presentation, keep formatting and even image palettes as cohesive as possible to sustain the mood.

3. Rhythm

Poetry is strongly associated with rhythm, with cadence, with well-chosen words. You can play with alliteration (the repetition of consonants), assonance (the repetition of vowel sounds), or even rhyme as you title your talk and script your slides.

Zooming out, try to give your presentation as a whole a sense of rhythm, structure, and flow. You can do this by repeating visual or text elements at regular intervals — for example, solid-color slides to introduce new sections, or a short, simple string of text repeated throughout for poetic emphasis.

“Sculpting an Elephant,” by Barry Casey, is a wonderful example of poetic language and rhythmic flow in practice:

Sculpting An Elephant – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Poetry in Practice: Allow yourself time, and a few edit passes, to explore possibilities for word choice — you might even use an online dictionary, thesaurus, or rhyming dictionary for ideas. If you land on a poetic, powerful phrase, try repeating it at intervals throughout your presentation to underscore its rhythmic resonance.

4. Beauty

Beauty alone can’t carry an unsubstantial idea, but a beautifully presented idea can blossom into something bigger, more powerful. In a presentation, beauty may take the form of evocative, well-chosen images that deepen your meaning, or it could be an elegant metaphorical idea that intrigues and illuminates.

Take a look at how Brandon George uses clever images with a playful spin in this information-sharing presentation, “How to Get Ideas.” It’s a very creative take on beauty!

How to Get Ideas – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

Poetry in Practice: Use high-quality imagery, and don’t rush the selection of your images — they should be more than just decoration. Be sure each image you choose deepens and extends your meaning or tells a story.

5. Emotion

In the age of big data, it’s common to value information over emotion, and to structure presentations accordingly. Yet in the words of Jonathan Gottschall, author of The Storytelling Animal, “Humans simply aren’t moved to action by ‘data dumps,’ dense PowerPoint slides, or spreadsheets packed with figures. People are moved by emotion.”

“Humans simply aren’t moved to action by ‘data dumps,’ dense PowerPoint slides, or spreadsheets packed with figures. People are moved by emotion.” — Jonathan Gottschall

When we celebrated our company’s one-year anniversary last summer, I wanted to acknowledge the milestone with a mix of compelling stats and stories. Here’s how I wove the two together:

Celebrating One Year of Haiku Deck – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

For another example, check out how a creative teacher infuses a basic scientific formula with storytelling in this educational presentation:

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Poetry in Practice: No matter how data-heavy your presentation is, your message will be more memorable if you can turn your stats in stories. Emotion and information can work together to elevate your key points.

6. Brevity

Certainly there are grand, epic forms of poetry, but most poetic forms favor brevity. Keeping your presentation concise and focused will nearly always make it feel more poetic.

This personality-packed presentation, created to cap off what was surely an epic Startup Weekend event, is an excellent example of how little text you actually need to get the point across.

Poetry in Practice: Instead of trying to pack in more — more words, more ideas, more thoughts, more data points — see what you can remove. Give your ideas some breathing room, so they can bloom.

In Closing

Here’s one last example I’d like to share, in which I tried to incorporate all of these poetic building blocks to some extent. I created it for presentation expert Nolan Haims, based on a blog post he wrote that inspired me. (Sending this to him felt a bit like cooking dinner for a famous chef, and I offered to make any changes he requested, but he liked it!)

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

There’s no foolproof formula to creating poetic presentations — like poetry itself, there are plenty of forms to explore and ways to experiment. But I hope these poetic building blocks can plant some seeds for future presentation inspiration.

Do you have favorite examples or poetic presentations, or ideas to share? Let me know in the comments!

And if you appreciate what we’re doing, please cast your vote for poetic presentations in the Webby Awards — every vote makes a big difference!


12 Awesome Poetry Project Ideas for All Ages

Poetry Everywhere!

It’s National Poetry Month, the perfect time to fill the world with beautiful ideas and poetic power!

For a little inspiration, we’re showcasing twelve terrific poetry projects from our incredibly creative community of educators. You’ll find projects for first graders and high schoolers, and everything from sensory poems to color explorations to poems about polliwogs. (We also think any of these would be just as fun for adults to try — a little creative expression is always good for the soul!)

Educators, share your poetry project ideas here for a chance to win fun Haiku Deck prizes.

And if any of these ideas inspire you to create poetry-themed Haiku Decks (and we certainly hope they will), be sure to send us a link to, or tweet them with the hashtag #poeticpower!

1. Illustrate Figurative Language

In San Antonio, Texas, Terri Eichholz uses Haiku Deck with her 4th graders to explore and illustrate figurative language:

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app

Terri’s take: “In 5 minutes, I was able to show the students how to create a slide, add text, select an image, and share the product.  Once all of the products were in, we played a quick game to identify the type of figurative language as I showed each example on the big screen. While they were working with their partners, I heard one student say, “I love doing this!”

While they were working with their partners, I heard one student say, “I love doing this!”

“I love that they were engaged and learning, and all it cost me was about 10 minutes more than the previous times I’ve taught that lesson. Now, they have a new digital tool in their belt that they can choose from when they write their own examples of figurative language.”

Read more about Terri’s project (inspired by Natalie Babbitt’s “Tuck Everlasting”) and see examples of her students’ work on Engage Their Minds.

2. Create, Illustrate, and Share Original Poetry

Christy Novack and Julie Janc’s 3rd grade class at Roosevelt Elementary School used Haiku Deck and QR codes to spread poetry throughout their community.

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Pure Wow Winner: Paula Guinto


This week we’re announcing our #hdbestof2013 Decks of the Year winners! Thank you for all of your comments, votes, emails, and shares — and a special thank-you to the creators of these amazing and inspiring decks.

Pure Wow Winner: “Ink,” by Paula Guinto

This is one of those visually stunning decks that we all gathered around and ooh’d and aah’d over. Ms P, a middle school teacher a gifted storyteller, recounts the story of her first tattoo,shares her first Instagram, and, through a powerful combination of beautiful, vivid words and images, urges us all to find our storybelieve in it, and honor it. The huge number of votes and social shares Paula’s deck received during the contest is evidence that her story resonated with our community, as well.

Click to be wowed by Paula’s story, and be sure to check out the other “pure wow” finalists in this very difficult to judge category, who created truly awe-inspiring pieces on visual storytelling, the power of play, global travel, and the new mindset for education.

Ink: On Celebrating Our Stories 3.0 – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
“Ink,” by Paula Guinto[/caption]

Most Inspiring Haiku Deck: Creativity Boosters from Brandon George


This week we’re announcing our #hdbestof2013 Decks of the Year winners! Thank you for all of your comments, votes, emails, and shares — and a special thank-you to the creators of these amazing and inspiring decks.

Most Inspiring Haiku Deck: “I’m Not Creative,” by Brandon George

With wit and style, Haiku Deck Guru Brandon George of Write the Good Fight spells out “14 guaranteed ways to kick creative a@$.” (Case in point: Find the time. You have 24 hours in each day. So did Picasso, Gandhi, and Einstein.) Props to Brandon for using Public Notes so effectively, rocking the chronically underused Strangelove theme, and mixing in some cool charts to drive his points home.

Click to learn how to eat doubt for breakfast and other creativity boosters, and definitely don’t miss the chance to be inspired by all five category finalists.

“I’m Not Creative” (Oh Yeah? Bull$#!%.) – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

P.S. If you’d like to share Brandon’s creativity boosters with a younger audience, he created a special G-rated alternate version here.

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