Adaptation of Visuals

By Nancy Duarte

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Guy Kawasaki present.

He spoke at WWDC, and we tweaked the slides for his presentation. Woot woot–my earliest brush with fame. His session was standing room only, so I watched him from an overflow room with the developers.

That presentation was in 1996, when Guy was an Apple Fellow. He rejoined Apple in an era when there was really no strategy to speak of, and he was the highlight of the event.

(And not just because Douglas Adams didn’t make his flight that year.)

When you’re an iconic presenter like Guy Kawasaki, what’s on the screen often doesn’t matter–your personal style and clever content can carry the audience. So when Guy asked us for insight into the latest adaptation of his presentation, we were a bit intimidated.

Guy asked us to critique his current slide deck and offer a solution.

The request came at a busy time, but we wanted to take the challenge. We brainstormed, sketched, and designed. It’s always best to show three unique solutions, but we were crunched for time. Only one designer was available, so we went with what she (Michaela) and the art director (Diandra) developed.

The project was fun, but intimidating. I knew that if Guy didn’t like it, the entire world would hear about it…not that he shares his opinions openly or anything. The biggest visual concern we had was that his aesthetic hadn’t migrated along with his message.

We sent over a PDF explaining the creative process and rationale behind the decisions, plus a PowerPoint file so he could see it life-size on the screen.

Click on the PDF below to print out the case study and you’ll learn stuff like:

  1. Brainstorms yield great ideas
  2. Colors have personality
  3. Aesthetic should match the topic

8 slides displayed, 4 are the before slides and 4 are the after

Interestingly, I don’t ever go to Guy’s main home page, I just go to his blog. So when an early copy of his new book Reality Check arrived from his publisher a couple days ago, I was shocked to see it had a similar aesthetic to the presentation we designed. (Well, okay, that’s a stretch…we used a similar font.)

We only completed a subset of slides for him and now that he’s given the go-ahead, we’ll finish them up. I’ve put his book at the top of my weekend reading stack and am excited to have been granted a sneak peek!

Guy Kawasaki's book "Reality Check"

Close up of the text on a slide designed for Guy Kawasaki "Roll the Dicee"

Topics Covered

Design, Presenting, Visual thinking

Written by

Nancy Duarte

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