The opening scene of It Might Get Loud shows Jack White (of The White Stripes) hammering together a one-string electric guitar with a two by four and an empty Coke bottle.
He plugs it in, plays a grungy riff, takes a drag of his cigarette and asks:
“Why says you need to buy a guitar?”
Pretty epic, right? The thing is, Jack White is one of the best guitarists in the world. Any guitar manufacturer would be happy to send him their best gear for free.
He’s got access to all of the latest guitars, amps, effects processors – you name it.
But he doesn’t need any of these things to make great music because he’s a master of his trade, a craftsman. An artist.
See also: Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Recording
An artist’s skills and creativity aren’t determined by his tools. Tools are only as effective as their user!
The most illuminating example of this in the business world is the ever-present PowerPoint presentation.
You know what I’m talking about, right? We’ve all sat (or napped) through a mind-numbing PowerPoint presentation at least once in our professional lives.
It’s easy to blame the tool, which is why you’re so used to hearing people say things like:
“Death to PowerPoint!”
“Prezi is better!”
Have you ever said anything like this? I know I have.
But PowerPoint isn’t the problem. It’s us, the users. PowerPoint is a blank canvas, and it’s actually a pretty powerful tool. After all, there’s a reason why it’s the most popular presentation software in the world!
The problem isn’t the software. The problem is that presentation with 50+ text filled slides and no images. It’s charts and graphs that are too small to see and impossible to digest.
It’s a design problem, and it’s totally fixable. Bad PowerPoint presentations can be avoided, but it’s up to you – the user – to make that happen.
To help you get inspired, here are 10 good presentation examples everyone should see (especially non-designers):
1. Fix Your Really Bad PowerPoint
A presentation about presentations? How meta! This deck is based of Seth Godin’s ebook on the same topic, and it’s fantastic:
2. Why Content Marketing Fails
by Rand Fishkin
This isn’t a pretty presentation. Rand clearly isn’t winning any design awards with this one. But it’s very entertaining and very effective:
3. The Brand Gap
This grey scale presentation about design and branding is simultaneously minimal and beautiful. It goes to show that you don’t need a ton of content to make your point:
4. What Would Steve Do?
This deck about the world’s best presenters is bold, clean and impactful. Pay attention to the power of full size images and tasteful transition effects (i.e very simple “on click” animations):
5. 10 Powerful Body Language Tips
Believe it or not, this is really a PowerPoint presentation. But many hours of expert design went into it, so it looks like it was built in Illustrator:
6. The Power of Networking
by Fabio Lalli
This is a perfect example of slide deck built to support the presenter. – not to steal the show or act as a crutch. Notice the use of large, evocative, high res images on every single slide:
7. All About Beer
What stands out in this deck is the design. Specifically, the branding and consistency. The pleasant (and relevant) color palette is consistent throughout the presentation:
Each of these are examples of great presentations that could be built with almost any presentation software, including PowerPoint.
So here’s my challenge to you: next time you’re putting together a slide deck, come back to this post, get inspired, and create something awesome that makes people ask:
“Is that PowerPoint?”