I started thinking about this with Garr Reynold’s post today about Bill Gates, where he compared a slide presentation from Bill Gates to one by Steve Jobs.
Bill Gates’ slides are overwhelming in content, the colors look dark and dreary, and as I scan the slides, I have no idea what main message (point? take-away? idea? belief? action?) he wants his audience to leave with. Granted, I am a huge fan of the business prowess of Bill Gates, and he undoubtedly said some interesting and challenging things while presenting, but I was not at the conference. I only have the slides, and reviewing them now does not help me at all. If anything, it has the opposite effect–what is he talking about? When they get printed and/or electronically distributed (as is happening here and at countless desks around organizations), they lose their meaning. That is not what a communicator wants.
Steve Jobs’ are clean, straight-forward, and more compelling. They follow what Seth Godin suggests with minimal text on slides so they help to reinforce the speaker’s message. Great for the audience that is there, perhaps, as long as they are primarily auditory learners. However, I have another reservation here–I was not in the audience at the time, and while the slides may indeed reinforce the presenter, that doesn’t do anything for me. Is Steve suggesting Apple is aiming at all-in-one? They have already achieved it? They want to ultimately sell only one all-in-one product? I am not sure. Once again, without message titles, I am clueless and left to my own thoughts.
Yes, presentations still have that “had to ‘been there” quality. BUT, as social media changes the way we work, it is also having an effect on how we communicate and consider the primary and secondary audiences we face. Message titles, even if they are just scattered through a presentation with the other slides filled with images and other engaging devices, will definitely help the various audiences far into our digital futures.
If only Amazon will hurry up with the delivery of Garr’s book Presentation Zen!