Expert Tips for Creating Killer Presentations With Haiku Deck

November 6, 2014

shutterstock_164665187We know visual is viral, which is why SlideShare has partnered with Haiku Deck to enable you to create and share standout visual content right from SlideShare. Now how do you best leverage this new tool so that your presentations are truly stunning and take off?

As Haiku Deck’s Chief Inspiration Officer, I have created hundreds of pieces of Haiku Deck content over the past couple of years – everything from press releases, research summaries, and board updates to informative lessons and visual guides. Here are a few of my top tips to help you become a Haiku Deck pro on SlideShare.

1. Start with a strong cover page

The right cover page can really make your deck stand out on SlideShare. Think of your deck title like a headline that you can bring to life with a unique, memorable visual. You want to inspire interest and encourage clicks, so go for a big, vivid idea that offers a fresh perspective or approach to your subject.

A well-crafted cover page can also provide you some creative inspiration for both words and images as you’re developing your presentation.

Here are a few of my favorite “big idea” cover pages:

-Dear Speaker, I Loathe You. Sincerely, Your Event Planner

-The Seven Deadly Social Media Sins

-Finding Your Design Super Powers

Power tips:

-Haiku Deck is an ideal fit for “list” type content -- try giving your list a unifying theme to make it stand out. (This is why we named this deck The 10 Commandments of Presentations instead of 10 Presentation Tips.)

-Your cover image is probably the most important one in your presentation, so look for a big, bold visual that elicits an emotional response.

-Be sure to make your deck title and slide content keyword rich.

2. Think outside the template

Templates are ubiquitous in our presentation culture, and for some understandable reasons -- they offer a consistent brand impression, they help provide structure, and they can give a presentation a polished, professional look.

But on the flip side, templates also can distract attention from your message, and they can become boring or even overbearing. (Another way to think about this: Usually, the only one who really cares about a company template is the company.)

Haiku Deck is designed to help you achieve all of the positive things about templates without the drawbacks, but you’ll need to shift your thinking just a bit. Instead of putting things like logo, tagline, and boilerplate on every slide, try putting them just on your first and last slides. Experiment with choosing photographs and colorful backgrounds that evoke your official colors, instead of replicating them exactly.

When you think outside the template, you’ll unlock the kind of creative flow that is what Haiku Deck is all about.

Power tips:

-Instead of a typical logo or beauty shot, try using more authentic photographs of your company, team, or product.

-You can also use photographs to evoke your brand in a less literal way. For example, when I’m creating content for Haiku Deck, I like to use colorful photographs of paper cranes, or beautiful origami paper, for a less literal nod to our logo. Here’s an example.

-If your company color is, say, blue, try doing an image search for “blue,” “blue abstract,” or “blue pattern.” You can use these kinds of images as distinctive backgrounds to evoke your brand.

3. Explore metaphors

When you’re searching for images for your slides, it’s easy to just go for literal. But you’re going to get much more interesting results, and create a more creative deck, if you go a little deeper and think metaphorically.

For example, if you’re trying to illustrate “goals,” instead just doing an image search for “goal,” spend a little time thinking about things or activities that relate to goals. Here a few ideas.

Power tips:

-Haiku Deck is designed to save you a tremendous amount of time on things like design, formatting, and image attribution, so it’s worth the effort to find precisely the right image. Sometimes just scrolling down in the image search will reveal an image that triggers an idea for a new image search, or a creative way to illustrate your point.

-If you’re not finding what you’re looking for, you can try selecting one of the suggested image tags, or exploring some other tangents that might get you unstuck. Read more about Choosing the Right Photographs for Your Presentation.

-Look for images with true storytelling power -- those that evoke an emotional response or communicate an idea, even without a caption.

4. Have fun with charts

You won’t need to wrangle any spreadsheets when you create Haiku Deck charts, so you can keep your focus on the number story you’re trying to communicate. The simple, colorful visuals are a high-impact way to illustrate a trend, highlight a data point, or showcase some key facts and figures.

Power tips:

-Write your chart title like a headline that tells the story behind the numbers.

-Click the “edit units” to adjust the scale in a bar chart.

-In a stat chart, you can mix numbers and text. Be creative!

-Changing the theme of your Haiku Deck also changes the color palette of your charts. Try on different themes for different looks!

5. Mix up your slide types

Old habits die hard, and it can be tempting to fall into a rut with slide types -- for example, including multiple bullet lists in a row, or going heavy on the text blocks. Most of my favorite Haiku Decks hold attention by mixing up all of the slide types -- short headlines, text blocks, charts, and lists.

Power tips:

-You can play with layouts to place short or longer text blocks in different spots on your slides. This is a great way to add variety.

-You might notice that Haiku Deck lists are limited to five items. If you have more items than that, try making a slide for each item. (Our philosophy is that less is more!)

-Interspersing solid color slides among your photo background slides is another great technique for keeping things fresh and dynamic.

6. Signal sections clearly

Especially for SlideShare content, which is going to be read without you there to present it, it’s very helpful to provide cues to help your reader understand the structure and flow. For example, if you have three key supporting points (a great tip that most presentation experts recommend), try using the same solid-color background, or the same abstract image, for each point, to help it stand out in the flow.

Power tips:

-Using one layout to indicate sections, and another for content within those sections, is a great way to help your presentation flow. We use this technique in “10 Tips to Transform Your Presentations.

-You can use abstract graphical backgrounds instead of solid color backgrounds to evoke your brand colors (or the color theme of your presentation).

-This method also works well for your individual slides, including charts.  If you’re including a chart, try making your chart title a headline that succinctly tells the story behind the data.

7. Make the mood cohesive

Once I have all my slides in place, I like to go back through and see what I can do to make everything as cohesive as possible. You can choose a theme that matches your mood or your message -- for example, I prefer Cinematic for big, newsworthy announcements and easy-to-read Zissou for how-to content.

See how different the moods of these two decks are. The first uses the elegant Volterra theme, and the second one makes a statement with Cinematic.

As I’m wrapping up my work, I like to look at all of my slide thumbnails and see if any don’t feel like they belong, either visually or thematically. For example, a whole slide deck using Lego minifigures can be super clever, but just mixing in one or two can feel a bit random. If I notice that all of my slides except a couple are picking up my color theme, I go back and see if I can find different images to really unify the whole set.

Power tips:

-Instead of using the same theme every time, mix things up! You can easily experiment with just a click, and change everything back if it’s not the look you’re going for.

-You can add a color name to your image search to discover more images that tie in to your overall palette. For example, try searching for “red balloon” instead of just “balloon.”

-If you feel inspired to experiment with a cohesive visual theme, try doing an image search for “Lego,” “Star Wars,” “vintage,” or “rainbow,” and selecting a bunch of images at one time that you can then move around and play with. Use your imagination -- and discover even more inspiration in Make Your Presentations Poetic.

I hope you’ll feel inspired to create your own killer Haiku Decks -- but if you have questions or need more ideas, let me know in the comments!

READ MORE: 5 Great Ideas For What to Create on SlideShare

About the Author

Catherine Carr is Chief Inspiration Officer at Haiku Deck, a Seattle-based company on a mission to make presentations simple, beautiful, fun, and mobile-friendly. Create your own Haiku Deck for free at

Photo: Skylines/Shutterstock