Add Notes to Your Haiku Deck

When we interviewed Joby Blume for our blog, one of his key messages was that a presentation is more than just the slides. In his words,

A presentation also needs a presenter. People seem to forget this basic point – slides can be put on SlideShare, or emailed – but without narration that’s not the whole presentation, it’s just the slides. The best way to design slides for SlideShare isn’t the same as the best way to create slides to actually use in a presentation.

Pretty much every presentation design book we’ve read, and every expert we’ve talked to, emphasizes this exact point. And nearly everyone who has put a deck together has fallen into the trap of trying to make their slides work outside of the room in which they’re actually presented. Garr Reynolds of Presentation Zen fame calls this kind of hybrid approach–slides that repeat what the presenter says, with too much detail–a slideument. He also advises against it.

Haiku Deck, by design, encourages you to simplify by limiting the amount of text on each slide, but we get that there’s often more to your story. Just last week our friends at Edelman Seattle invited us to do a “Presentation Intervention,” and I put together this deck to explain what we’re about and outline some strategies to make presentations more captivating.

I built the deck around high-impact imagery with minimal text, and it worked beautifully in the room, but if you weren’t in the room, the takeaways wouldn’t be as clear. So I’m particularly excited about an awesome new Haiku Deck feature: the ability to add notes to the web view of your deck, so you can complete the picture.

Adding notes to my deck allowed me to explain the ideas behind each slide, so my story can live on outside the room.

Screen shot from Set Your Story Free, with New Notes View

Click to view the whole deck with notes.

How to Add Notes to Your Haiku Deck

To add notes to a new Haiku Deck (or to round out one you’ve already created), simply publish your deck and click through to view it on our website. Be sure you’re logged in to the site using the same credentials you use to log in from the app.

When you view your deck, you’ll see title and notes fields on the right. You can add text to either or both fields. Click the blue Save button, or click Preview to see how your text will appear in its final layout. Then advance to the next slide to add more notes.

Once you have your notes the way you like them, you can click Download at the bottom of your screen to create a very snappy-looking PDF you can use as a handout or downloadable ebook. Here’s a sample page:

PDF Handout View of Haiku Deck with Notes

sample handout page

Please try out the Notes feature, and let us know what you think! In the coming weeks we’ll be on the lookout for Haiku Decks with Notes for our Gallery, so if you create one, please let us know.


Haiku Deck at Startup Weekend Lincoln

A few weeks ago, we noticed on Twitter that one of the teams at Startup Weekend Lincoln was using Haiku Deck to make their pitch.

We have roots in Startup Weekend ourselves, so this made us feel borderline giddy. We tracked down Meghan Rihanek of Paper Doll, who filled in the back story.

Q&A with Meghan Rihanek

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.

Startup Weekend: More Inspiration

If you’re participating in an upcoming Startup Weekend, take a spin through our Presentation Pointers and Business Case Studies Pinterest boards. And if you have any questions at all about how to use Haiku Deck, we’re here to help: drop us a line any time!

Presentation Inspiration: Guest Q&A with Nolan Haims

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?)


Design content

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…

Make Your Presentation Like a Twinkie – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires

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?

More Presentation Inspiration

For more presentation inspiration, be sure to take a spin through our Presentation Pointers Pinterest board and our Featured and Popular Galleries, which highlight new awesome examples every week. You can also access the Gallery any time, right from the app.

Startup Storytelling for the Win

A few weeks ago, Adam kicked off the Geekwire Seattle Startup Day event with a talk on why storytelling is so essential for entrepreneurs. In his presentation he covers all of the essentials for startups wishing to make their story more compelling. Why is storytelling important? How do you craft your story? What are the critical elements of a great startup story? Learn more in the video below:

Here’s the Haiku Deck he created for the talk (nice use of the “Starship” theme, Captain Tratt):

Startup Storytelling for the Win – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;


At last count more than 7 million folks had watched the Simon Sinek “Start With Why” TED talk referenced by Adam, but it’s always worth watching again.

Here at HDHQ, we’re working on both our dream AND our plan. And if you’d like to know more about our “why,” we invite you to read this.

What’s your “why”? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Case Study: Slidecasting with Haiku Deck


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 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!


Telling the Full Story

One thing I particularly love about Haiku Deck is how I can tell a complete story by combining my personal photos with Creative Commons-licensed images. A couple weeks ago we took a family road trip to Ironman Canada, and I made this Haiku Deck to document our adventure.

Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that’s simple, beautiful and fun.

For most of it I used my own iPhone snaps, but there were a few things I wanted to include that I just didn’t end up with great pictures of (bad lighting, dead battery, missed the moment, etc.) With a few quick keyword searches right from the app, I could round out my own photo set with top-notch images of the swim start, the famous Penticton Peach, and even (unbelievably) the exact burger and beer we enjoyed at our post-race fuel stop, Burger 55 (highly recommended, by the way).

Katie Boehret commented on this, too, in her review of Haiku Deck for the Wall Street Journal:

When I used Haiku Deck to make a deck of my trip to Charlottesville, the app’s smart suggestions of photos that might go with keywords in my slides were entertaining to look at and I used several photos from Creative Commons to supplement images I didn’t have. For example, one night we wandered the University of Virginia campus, but I didn’t take any photos that came out well in the dark. Haiku Deck suggested a huge list of images related to the keyword “UVA,” and I typed “night” into the search box to get more specific images.

The best part, though, is how much fun it is create this kind of slideshow. As Katie put it, “I sat on my couch and watched TV as I made presentations. I really enjoyed the process; it was fun and it didn’t feel like work to me.” You can take my word for it: It’s far, far easier than competing in–or spectating at–an Ironman.

We’d love to see your Haiku Deck trip recap! Add a link in the comments below, or tweet it with the hashtag #HaikuDeck for a chance to be featured in our Gallery.

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