Four presentation predictions for 2011

Nancy Duarte

Written by

Nancy Duarte

Presentations have been through many (delightfully positive) changes in the last few years—but believe it or not—the most dramatic change is yet to come. Come along as we roll back the curtain and predict what the future looks like.

1. Tablet war will shape future of presentations

Tablets are hot and are creating new ways to engage customers with rich content and immersive experiences. iPads get passed around a conference table the same way yellow pads used to. But delivering a presentation on these devices requires different design considerations and a more immersive experience. Navigable stories and short video clips will win on this presentation platform. You want the folks at the table to hold the tablet and “see” what you’re saying quickly. A recent HBR blog posting said that, “Designing documents to be a sensual physical experience and not just a visually cognitive one demands different aesthetics and sensibilities. This nascent transition will be as profoundly important for future interpersonal communications—and branding—as the transition from radio to television. Having the right touch to get the right touch will become a desirable communications competence.”

2. Authenticity trumps “spin”

The instability in our world continues to make people skittish about the future and skeptical about the “truth” they’re being told by government and business. That leads to an even greater hunger for authenticity and transparency in communication — “spin” is out, “sincerity” is in. Hint to communicators: the audience can tell the difference no matter how you try to disguise it. Read Nick Morgan’s book Trust Me and Garr Reynold’s The Naked Presenter (review to come!). Both will help you come across as more authentic.

3. Hand made by [insert name here]

One way to come across as sincere and authentic is to present slides or sketches made by you. Almost all my internal slides delivered at Duarte staff meetings are all hand-sketched and scanned in. You can achieve the same result by hand drawing slides or even whiteboarding instead of slides. When my IT department was faced with buying new, expensive networking equipment, we brought in three vendors. The most expensive vendor—who also happens to be a Duarte client– had us sit and watch flash overview pieces on the web (the same ones that we created for them!) We felt like they didn’t know us or understand our problem. So we went with the vendor who could whiteboard a vision of how they might solve our problem. If you feel you can’t draw, use your favorite hobby to tell a story and take pictures along the way.

In the beginning, I created the heavens and the earth. And the earth was without form and void.

4. Increase in NO SLIDE ZONES

Speakers will stand up and talk. I didn’t say they won’t plan, they’ll talk without slides. We’ll see this more at the executive level and it will filter down through all layers of the business as well. People will get over the urge to sit behind the security blanket of a badly-designed, word-riddled PowerPoint slide. They’ll present “naked” or they’ll put in the effort required for great visuals.

Here’s a great example of a speech by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg.

You’ll notice that her comfort monitor has dense text slides that serve as her teleprompter but they are not projected behind her. She’s very lovely on stage and her talk is chock full of stories. If she’d chosen to project her slides, it would have diminished her gracefulness on stage.

Less and less people will stand in front of poorly constructed visuals. Presenters will use great supporting visuals or none at all. The public’s tolerance for bad PowerPoint will eliminate the majority of bad visuals out there. Social stigma and peer pressure from having poorly constructed and distracting visuals will be career limiting.

Thanks for feedback from the Twitterverse: @viperblueuk @stephenRemedios @jwgorham @mpascoe @story_jon @reggyMortier @pediatricINC @tlgerglund @advanceUrSlides @anafxfz @matthewmccull @brataas @janschultink @twid @paulflanigan @toddbullivant @jaeSelle @edlee

Check out these related resources