1 of 32

Slide Notes

We first gave this talk at the Edelman Seattle office, who invited us for a fun, informal "Presentation Intervention" session.

In it we introduced Haiku Deck and shared some guiding principles and techniques that we believe can make any presentation more effective, no matter what tools you are using. We hope you'll find these ideas inspiring and useful.

And if you'd like us to do a Presentation Intervention at your office, please drop me a a line: catherine@haikudeck.com.

How To Set Your Story Free

Published on Nov 06, 2015

No Description



We first gave this talk at the Edelman Seattle office, who invited us for a fun, informal "Presentation Intervention" session.

In it we introduced Haiku Deck and shared some guiding principles and techniques that we believe can make any presentation more effective, no matter what tools you are using. We hope you'll find these ideas inspiring and useful.

And if you'd like us to do a Presentation Intervention at your office, please drop me a a line: catherine@haikudeck.com.

Photo by senken

Untitled Slide

I was at the playground with my friend and her son, and he was trying to get our attention. "Mama, look! Look!" Most moms hear this phrase dozens of times in a day (or an hour, for that matter), so it took us a while to actually look. But when we did, we saw a tiny hummingbird hovering in midair while the little boy gently stroked its back with his finger.

It was a magical moment, frozen in time--a moment I didn't think was even possible. It was captivating.

We all have amazing stories to tell. And presentations are just stories. They should be captivating.

Untitled Slide

But too often, they're not.

Our work culture has trained us to expect, and accept, moments like this.

We're supposed to create a presentation, so we dissect our thoughts into bullet points and we string them together in a bunch of slides. Maybe we pretty them up with a fancy template or some stock photography.

But seriously....is anybody ever excited to see a slide that looks anything even remotely like this?

Untitled Slide

Sometimes, building a presentation feels kind of like this. Heavy. Overstuffed. We're trying to cram everything in. It gets messy.
Photo by Perosha

Untitled Slide

Or it's kind of like this, a sink full of dirty dishes, a mishmash of previous meals. Kind of daunting. Pretty unpleasant.
Photo by houstonryan

Untitled Slide

When we created Haiku Deck, we felt like we needed to just kind of take a breath and reset. We wanted to think about it really differently.


We decided to revisit the experience of creating presentations, and to reframe around three things.

Photo by ƒernando


Photo by Egg Dance


and fun.

Because we believe that if we're not having fun, we're not doing it right.
Photo by Reini68


People say constraints inspire creativity, and we believe this is true. Like a haiku, constraints or rules define the boundaries, but leave plenty of room for creative expression.

The constraints built into Haiku Deck--limiting the amount of text on each slide as well as design and layout choices--are designed to help you down the path to simplicity.


An excellent starting place is to have one big idea that captures the essence of your presentation.

The big idea in this Haiku Deck is that you have the choice to make your presentations the regular way or to make them captivating, like the hummingbird.

We say, go with the hummingbird.
Photo by jev55


Once you have your big idea in place, you'll want to focus on three key points.

This is not three key points per slide, by the way--it's three key points total.

Remember the three key points in this presentation?

Photo by C. J. Vizzone


Presentation expert Nolan Haims wrote an awesome blog post proposing that 3 is the new 2. You can (and should) read it on his blog, www.presentyourstory.com.

Basically, he says that if you can simplify further, do it.

Photo by Thomas Hawk


This is a big one, and it's incredibly important.

We are used to packing each slide with content to limit the number of slides in a deck, but that's the wrong way to think about it.

Really, all your audience can absorb is one idea per slide.

It's ok to have more slides and go through them quickly. But unpack your ideas so each one gets the attention it deserves.
Photo by Kaos2


Some presentation experts recommend no more than six words on a slide. Nearly all agree that less text is better.

We say think of your words like oysters. A half dozen or so is tasty. Too many more than that might give you a stomachache.

Haiku Deck is uniquely designed to help you limit the text on each slide. If, as you type, you're finding your line of text getting very very tiny and squeezed, you have too much text. See what you can cut out.

Photo by cizauskas


Now that we've simplified by applying some guiding constraints, let's think about how to work in the beauty and the fun.

Untitled Slide

Every presentation has a story in there somewhere, just waiting to be brought to life. It just needs some vision, and a little creative nurturing.


Coming up with a memorable metaphor to communicate your big idea is worth some creative effort.

If you're communicating a problem that needs to be solved, is that problem like burrs getting stuck to your socks, or is it more like socks getting lost in the dryer...or something else altogether?

Be sure to leave yourself some time to consider possible metaphors. We find that Haiku Deck's image search can inspire some fresh and unexpected metaphors, particularly if you leave yourself time to explore.

Untitled Slide

Nolan Haims recommends making your presentation like a Twinkie--the creamy filling is the message, and story is the golden delicious cake that holds it all together (and gives it a long shelf life).

Untitled Slide

Nancy Duarte, author of slide:ology, says that the process of weaning yourself from reading your slides out loud to your audience is like learning to ride a bike without training wheels.

Her site, www.duarte.com, is packed with helpful resources, by the way.
Photo by Paul-W

Untitled Slide

Here we're using the hummingbird to represent a presentation that's unexpected, captivating, and memorable.

{Also, words like oysters.}


Images are powerful tools for making an emotional connection and infusing your presentation with story.

Be sure the images you choose are actually telling a story, though. They're not just decoration. Images that look generic or cliche can do more harm than good.

If an image is starting to make your slide look like a wall calendar or a Demotivators poster, you might want to revisit it.

Photo by nsmithtnz


We're all pretty used to prettying up our presentations with charts and graphs--maybe even colorful, nice-looking charts and graphs.

But there's almost always a story behind those numbers. Find it. Tell it. Make it real.

For example, you could show me a chart like this and tell me that I'm spending 24.6% of my annual food budget on expensive lattes, and I might kind of nod and take a note and promptly completely forget it.
Photo by Chealion


Telling me that I'm spending $5 a day on expensive lattes is a start.
Photo by flickr4jazz


But telling me that $5/day adds up to enough for a trip to Puerto Escondido, one of my favorite places in the world, would make it far more vivid and memorable for me.

OK, truthfully, it's not going to stop me from having an expensive latte every day, because I really love them. But it might stop me from having two in a day.
Photo by tommydavis209

Untitled Slide

Once you find your inspiration, we find the story (and your presentation) just flows.


If you haven't watched Simon Sinek's Start with Why Ted Talk, we recommend you drop everything and do so right away. Just Google it.

Why are we reframing presentations around simplicity, beauty, and fun? Why do we believe they can be more like hummingbirds than like sinks full of dirty dishes? Why did we make Haiku Deck, and why should you care?

Untitled Slide

As a culture, we've learned not to expect much from the experience of either creating or listening to presentations. We don't equate those things with simplicity, beauty, or fun.

We refuse to accept that.

We believe there's a better way.

Photo by __rebekah

Untitled Slide

We also believe the entire experience can be more spontaneous.

Why not make your next slide deck on the subway, curled up on the couch, or wherever inspiration strikes?

Why not let beautiful images that photographers all over the world have made available grab our attention, inspire us, and help us tell captivating stories?

Why not think of our presentations as opportunities to tell stories and make real connections with our listeners, instead of just reading them the bullet points on our slides? And why not easily share your story wherever and whenever you want?
Photo by AcroYogi

Untitled Slide

We also believe that changing the way we think about presentations will change the way people respond to them.

Stories speak to us and motivate us to take action and rally to the cause.

Photo by B.K. Dewey

Untitled Slide

Are you ready to join our cause? Here's our rallying cry: No more overstuffed suitcase, kitchen-sink presentations.

More hummingbirds.
More captivating stories.

More simplicity, beauty, and fun.


We hope these ideas have inspired you to join our cause. And we hope Haiku Deck will make it easier than you ever imagined to create captivating presentations.

We invite you to try it, and to let us know how you're using it, what you love about it, and what would make you love it even more.

Here's how to reach us:
Visit us at www.haikudeck.com
Tweet us at @haikudeck
Email us at info@haikudeck.com