Business Design Video

Designing Presentations is a Dirty Job

Well-developed and designed presentations are finally getting the recognition they deserve. The influence and visibility of Garr Reynolds’ blog have helped change the perception that presentations suck, and made people aware of just how powerful a presentation can be.

Attracting really good designers to work for Duarte has been tough, because designing presentations is “dirty work”. Designers tell us that REAL designers create print campaigns or web sites, and designing presentations is beneath them. But now that well-designed presentations have begun to be perceived as a powerful communication tool, it has become a desirable occupation. It takes a bit of humility and contentment to do a job that others find undesirable. Humble and content people seem to be happy in work and life.

I loved this presentation by Mike Rowe from the Discovery Channel show Dirty Jobs.

He’s a brilliant storyteller who gave a talk called Celebrating Work, All Kinds of Work at the e.g. conference in Monterey that was founded by Richard Saul Wurman.

Nancy Duarte

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  • Dalin

    As a designer, there is nothing like having your presentation create excitement in front of hundreds of people. You won’t get that off the website or a print piece! Besides, the mark of a good designer is one who gives their heart into their work and leaves their pride at the door.

  • Dalin

    As a designer, there is nothing like having your presentation create excitement in front of hundreds of people. You won’t get that off the website or a print piece! Besides, the mark of a good designer is one who gives their heart into their work and leaves their pride at the door.

  • “I thought it best to talk in pictures”

    What a great example of how sometimes the best visual aid – is none.

    I read Garr’s book two years ago, and have been an avid reader – and maven of his blog and his principles ever since.

    Ironically, while I do love my current job – in which once in a while I get the chance to help others communicate their message more effectively –

    Just the other day – after reading your book and seeing what you guys did at Ted this year – I told my wife what a dream job it would be to help people rework their presentations all day.

  • “I thought it best to talk in pictures”

    What a great example of how sometimes the best visual aid – is none.

    I read Garr’s book two years ago, and have been an avid reader – and maven of his blog and his principles ever since.

    Ironically, while I do love my current job – in which once in a while I get the chance to help others communicate their message more effectively –

    Just the other day – after reading your book and seeing what you guys did at Ted this year – I told my wife what a dream job it would be to help people rework their presentations all day.

  • Jordan Fink

    Brilliant-

    i can’t help but think about Ira Glass’ advise about storytelling ( http://gelconference.com/videos/2007/ira_glass/ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7KQ4vkiNUk for part 1 of 4)… where they start with action-action-action-reflection… Rowe shows mastery of this.

  • Jordan Fink

    Brilliant-

    i can’t help but think about Ira Glass’ advise about storytelling ( http://gelconference.com/videos/2007/ira_glass/ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n7KQ4vkiNUk for part 1 of 4)… where they start with action-action-action-reflection… Rowe shows mastery of this.

  • Well… finally realised why I spent so much
    in soaps and detergents, for the last 20 years!

    Just GLAD to be one of those dirty workers!

  • Well… finally realised why I spent so much
    in soaps and detergents, for the last 20 years!

    Just GLAD to be one of those dirty workers!

  • I think great designers will soon find these dirty jobs becoming their dream jobs.

    Well-designed slide presentations add great impact on the overall performance of otherwise ordinary presenters.

  • I think great designers will soon find these dirty jobs becoming their dream jobs.

    Well-designed slide presentations add great impact on the overall performance of otherwise ordinary presenters.

  • Nancy — thanks for sharing — so true and I’m extending it to our work here: http://www.rocksarehard.com/my_weblog/2009/03/and-ill-just-keep-riffing-off-of-nany-duarte.html

  • Nancy — thanks for sharing — so true and I’m extending it to our work here: http://www.rocksarehard.com/my_weblog/2009/03/and-ill-just-keep-riffing-off-of-nany-duarte.html

  • I loved the connection between innovation and imitation, and I would extend that this way:

    impact = innovation + imitation

    Innovation alone is art. But if you want to have an impact–if you want to change the world around you, you’ve got to innovate things that can be reproduced. Hopefully, good things.

    It’s one of my favorite things about slide:ology, Nancy. You gave away a bunch of the secrets, the innovations, and I have high hopes that presentations the world over are better for it. I know that the ones in my office are.

  • I loved the connection between innovation and imitation, and I would extend that this way:

    impact = innovation + imitation

    Innovation alone is art. But if you want to have an impact–if you want to change the world around you, you’ve got to innovate things that can be reproduced. Hopefully, good things.

    It’s one of my favorite things about slide:ology, Nancy. You gave away a bunch of the secrets, the innovations, and I have high hopes that presentations the world over are better for it. I know that the ones in my office are.

  • Nice presentation (but then so is almost anything else from TED! 🙂 ).

    I’m not quite sure *what* slides he could have used though…. can you imagine the images?

    S

  • Nice presentation (but then so is almost anything else from TED! 🙂 ).

    I’m not quite sure *what* slides he could have used though…. can you imagine the images?

    S

  • Julie Terberg

    Shhh – we don’t want too many “real” designers to find out how satisfying it is to work in the dirt.

  • Julie Terberg

    Shhh – we don’t want too many “real” designers to find out how satisfying it is to work in the dirt.

  • I *heart* presentations. For the first time I feel like I have a tribe. It had been a lonely road.

  • I *heart* presentations. For the first time I feel like I have a tribe. It had been a lonely road.

  • Jon

    Hi Nancy, I love your work and the book Slide:ology. Recently, it was a great help in putting together a PowerPoint presentation for a new client in which I was proposing a new way to present their brand and talk about what they do. Within my presentation, I created a 6-frame story about the value of a new product they’re offering clients. On the 6th frame, their head sales manager jumped up and said “I’ve been trying to sell this for months, but I never thought of saying it that way!”. It was then that I realized the power of presentations to tell stories that really motivate people. There are a lot of clients out there that need our help when it comes to their PowerPoint presentations. This is fertile territory for designers if they care to enter it.

  • Jon

    Hi Nancy, I love your work and the book Slide:ology. Recently, it was a great help in putting together a PowerPoint presentation for a new client in which I was proposing a new way to present their brand and talk about what they do. Within my presentation, I created a 6-frame story about the value of a new product they’re offering clients. On the 6th frame, their head sales manager jumped up and said “I’ve been trying to sell this for months, but I never thought of saying it that way!”. It was then that I realized the power of presentations to tell stories that really motivate people. There are a lot of clients out there that need our help when it comes to their PowerPoint presentations. This is fertile territory for designers if they care to enter it.

  • Nathan, it is a dream job to be able to rework presentations all day. I started focusing solely on presentation design late last fall and it’s been fantastic.

    As someone who designs slides, you might think my first inclination when seeing this video is that “Oh no, there were no slides! Bad! We need the work!”

    But, I have to say how refreshing it was to witness this slideless presentation because it reinforces the idea that storytelling is the key to delivering mind-blowing presentations. How you translate the story you have to tell into visual accompaniment is what REALLY begins to polish and round out a great presentation.

    Great video. Glad you shared it.

  • Nathan, it is a dream job to be able to rework presentations all day. I started focusing solely on presentation design late last fall and it’s been fantastic.

    As someone who designs slides, you might think my first inclination when seeing this video is that “Oh no, there were no slides! Bad! We need the work!”

    But, I have to say how refreshing it was to witness this slideless presentation because it reinforces the idea that storytelling is the key to delivering mind-blowing presentations. How you translate the story you have to tell into visual accompaniment is what REALLY begins to polish and round out a great presentation.

    Great video. Glad you shared it.

  • …thanks Nancy. love this.
    and thanks for your great work. there’s nothing better in my line of work than finding a strategic designer with great aesthetic that can be my “creative” partner in visualizing strategy. downside is that these folks are so hard to find.

    love duarte and your vision. keep up the good work!

  • …thanks Nancy. love this.
    and thanks for your great work. there’s nothing better in my line of work than finding a strategic designer with great aesthetic that can be my “creative” partner in visualizing strategy. downside is that these folks are so hard to find.

    love duarte and your vision. keep up the good work!

  • Many of us have spent our careers just about slideless and training others to focus on the audience and not the screen. Mastering storytelling makes all of your presentations better.

    Great storytelling by Mr. Rowe.

  • Many of us have spent our careers just about slideless and training others to focus on the audience and not the screen. Mastering storytelling makes all of your presentations better.

    Great storytelling by Mr. Rowe.

  • Leslie

    Hi Nancy,
    I used your book to create my first ever power point presentation. The book was invaluable and it helped me visualize my story in a clear and interesting manner.

  • Leslie

    Hi Nancy,
    I used your book to create my first ever power point presentation. The book was invaluable and it helped me visualize my story in a clear and interesting manner.

  • ade

    I’m glad to know that presentation design has started to be recognized. This blog has really helped me appreciate the work that goes into making great presentations.

  • ade

    I’m glad to know that presentation design has started to be recognized. This blog has really helped me appreciate the work that goes into making great presentations.

  • Good presenters are always looking for ways to add more power to their presentations and print work can only do so much. At the end it comes down to the individual and what they project from themselves. Mike Rowe is very good at that btw. Awesome guy.

  • Good presenters are always looking for ways to add more power to their presentations and print work can only do so much. At the end it comes down to the individual and what they project from themselves. Mike Rowe is very good at that btw. Awesome guy.

  • Anonymous

    There is lots of designers love this job. But I don’t have personal experience about this but I am damn sure than designing job is tough but not dirty yeah you need some creativity.

  • Anonymous

    There is lots of designers love this job. But I don’t have personal experience about this but I am damn sure than designing job is tough but not dirty yeah you need some creativity.

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