I wrote a comment on Cindi’s post about slide sets at ALA TechSource which you may never see there, because their spam filter is hyperactive and insane. Why does it hate me so? Whatever. I’m posting it here:
But the most effective slide decks cannot be effectively uncoupled from the talks that they accompany without additional work.
Oh, so happy to see someone talk about this. I want to get a SlideShare account, really. But when I design slides, they are so tightly coupled with the audience and the things I intend to say when I present them that they just don’t stand on their own. And whenever I think about the amount of work it would take to put them on SlideShare with enough context that they would make sense…ugh.
I’m really interested in others’ thoughts on this, actually. Do you make different slide sets for SlideShare/your web site/etc. versus the version for the talk? Do you design slides differently if you know before the talk that you intend to upload them? Do you just put up whatever you used for the talk and if it doesn’t make a lot of sense on their own there’s still some benefit to you in doing so because…um…[fill in the blank; I have no idea]?
I have mixed feelings on the whole minimal-text, gripping-image thing that’s the trend these days, though. I mean, yes, text-heavy slides are evil, bullet points are not meant to be complete sentences, etc. Totally with you there. But the strongly image-oriented thing seems to have this implicit idea that talks are meant to be emotionally gripping, but not necessarily analytically so. The Twitter of slide sets, if you will — brief, punchy, thought-provoking, but not necessarily in-depth. There are times that’s the right kind of talk, but it isn’t always.
And also for me…I’m such a visual thinker. I don’t process the voiceover parts of a talk well unless the speaker is unusually charismatic, and if I depart at all for my own thought process I lose the thread of the talk and it’s hard to get it back. So for me, having some amount of text on the slides is tremendously helpful. Not much — if there’s too much text I will spend all my time reading it and I won’t hear the speaker at all — but enough to give me a basic outline that helps me contextualize what the speaker is saying and lets me find the thread of the talk again if I have wandered off on my own tangents. Pictures, since their connection to the talk is typically more emotional or entertaining than analytical, don’t do that for me.
My slides are definitely more pictorial than they used to be, but I can’t see myself getting away from using text as a structural/outlining element. Too useful to me both as an audience member and as a creator.
Dear readers: talk to me. What are your thoughts about slide deck design?