Nancy Duarte: SlideDocs, the New Form of Business Communication

By Nancy Duarte

I received a text message three days ago from my niece who works at a CPA firm that delivers a lot of technical presentations. Her message said, “…Many presentations are quite boring and ineffective. Unfortunately, the information the presenters are trying to convey is actually important, but I find it very difficult to pay attention to the material.” Of course, my niece is exceptional (really, all my nieces are), but she also knows that one day she’ll have to develop and deliver these presentations herself. So, she asked, “Is there anything I can read as to how to effectively create a technical presentation? I know that you can only make accounting standards and auditing strategies so exciting, but there’s GOT to be a better way to do it than I’m currently seeing. Thanks!”

Many people will listen to what I just said and say, “It’s time to kill the presentation.” Presentations aren’t to blame here; they’re one of the most powerful tools we have for moving an audience. The secret is in both how we use the software and how we deliver what we create. So, how do we do it better?

My new book Slidedocs, a free, downloadable e-book I’ve released on SlideShare, is about using presentation software to create compelling visual documents. And we’ve practiced what we preach by writing and designing the book in PowerPoint and distributing it on SlideShare — using the medium as the message.

In truth, slidedocs aren’t new. Not only have you probably already read a slidedoc, I would bet that you’ve even created one or two yourself. Every time your slides can travel through the organization and be understood without the help of a presenter, you’ve written a slidedoc. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as you treat it like a document. Distribute it; don’t present it.

People can read two times faster than you speak. By having your ideas float through your organization in consumable, spreadable chunks, you’re actually saving your audience time while using a more effective means of getting your message across. Here are several ways we’ve seen people use slidedocs :

As a pre-read

Distribute a slidedoc before a meeting and reserve a majority of the meeting for building consensus. This is particularly helpful when the topic is highly complex or technical.

As an emissary

People in positions of influence will sometimes say, “send me your slides” before they’ll book a meeting with you. Slidedocs help you fully explain your idea without being there.

As reference material

Information should enhance a conversation, not distract from it. Combining words and visuals around a single idea with book-like navigation makes it easy for people to refer to the information.

As follow-up material

Presentations often answer the question, “Why should I embrace your idea?” After a formal presentation, people need answers to the question “How do I embrace your idea?” Slidedocs fill the gap.

Becoming an effective slidedocs producer gives you another powerful tool for conveying your message. Download Slidedocs to learn how to use this tool today.

Nancy Duarte is CEO of Duarte, Inc. and the author of ResonateSlide:ology, and the HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Connect with her at http://www.linkedin.com/influencer/172811-Nancy-Duarte

20 Responses to “Nancy Duarte: SlideDocs, the New Form of Business Communication”

  1. Miles Austin

    Always learn from Duarte’s thinking and experience and have read her previous books. Pleased to read “My new book Slidedocs, a free, downloadable e-book I’ve released on SlideShare…) Unfortunately, the Save option on Slideshare has been “disabled by the author” so that it cannot be downloaded that way. There is a READ BOOK button at the top right of the page that you can use to download.

    Get the download because it will come with 2 powerpoint templates to help get your started with your own Slidedocs. Well done!

  2. Joe

    I cannot download the book. I have to go through many hoops, then he gives me a stupid message “sign up to download slide docs for free” and there’s no place to sign up. Why do I have to sign up?

    If you’re going to offer something for free make it free. Put a link on your website where I can actually click and download it. Don’t waste my time.

  3. Tim Chambers

    tl;dr

    I made it to p. 17 of 171. I don’t think Duarte has internalized Tufte’s principles of maximizing information density. Maybe not so much chartjunk as chartfluff. Too fluffy for my taste in any case. Content, content, content.

  4. Mike

    Joe – I had the same problem,. Because I like my privacy, I have Ghostery block pretty much all tracking and widgets, and this is a side effect.
    The sign up form is a facebook widget – maybe you also have a blocker in place which is getting in the way?

  5. qdPM Project Management

    Excellent idea. It is very much like the layout of textbooks (thinking Middle School Social Studies here) Have passed it on to several people. Will experiment with it for qdPM-ex.com documentation!

  6. Guest

    Actually I would agree to the concept, but the author itself is not creating impactful slides. There is way tooooooo much text on the slides.

  7. rationalman

    These are not slides designed to be presented to an audience. It is an e-book, created in PowerPoint. That’s why she called it a Slidedoc.

  8. steve mac lean

    the message is the medium since we are discoverin this new habitated planet.
    marketing as you knew it , or know it .Is History.
    deliver the unexpected
    People this is an acient way to sell
    Change is even changing ……look out of your window now!!!!

  9. Rafi Shikler

    I am not a business man I work at the University and Durate’s idea is very compeling from the education point of view. However, how do you cope with material based on equations and the derivation of these equations is as important as the answer itself

  10. bt

    It was actually quite simple; there is a READ BOOK button at the top right of the page that you can use to download.

  11. bt

    There is a READ BOOK button at the top right of the page that you can use to download.

  12. shawnacevraini

    Thank you for this! I read through the entire thing (which really didn’t take that long because of this format – which is the whole point of the document – it’s NOT to be presented on screen which is why it has so much text, but not too much). I have one legal size page of very useful notes that I will be implementing in my upcoming work. I really appreciated this information presented in this way! I’m inspired to create my own.

  13. Karen Hands

    You’ve got to be purposeful when preparing a presentation, and deciding what materials will support your message is a big part of this. Too often we assume that the slides have to accompany what we say, but this is hugely distracting for the audience. Nancy’s advice hits the spot precisely.