Nancy Duarte: SlideDocs, the New Form of Business Communication

February 24, 2014

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