Do you design slides more like Nancy Duarte or Guy Kawasaki?

Nancy Duarte (author of Resonate and Slideology) and Guy Kawasaki (author of Enchantment) have very different views of presentation design. Whose opinion do you connect with more?

This one-hour video, filmed with an iPad 2 (note: sound quality is poor in some sections), features Nancy and Guy critiquing audience-submitted slides at AdTech. While Guy’s advice is go for the simplest, most conceptual slide, Nancy has a more complex and nuanced understanding of presentation design because she helps many clients with their presentations.

I encourage you to watch the entire video. But if you just want the highlights, scroll past the video for my top 10 takeaways (along with the exact time on the video).

1. Stock photos. Don’t go for obvious stock photography. You won’t stand out from competitors. Instead, brainstorm ideas on a whiteboard first.(00:00 – 00:45)

2. Use complete sentences for slide titles. Guy insists you should never use a complete sentence. Nancy favors full sentences with a verb. You should be able to understand a deck simply by reading the slide titles. (2:30-3:20 & 29:00-29:50) I also teach this in my workshops

3. You can create documents with PowerPoint. Nancy creates documents in PowerPoint all the time. But don’t present your document on the screen. Instead, start from scratch and create another version using storytelling to highlight the meaning and connect personally with the audience. (8:10-10:00)

4. Eye-flow. Nancy and Guy agree a slide needs an anchor point that “sucks the eyeball to one place” using color or font size for emphasis.  (10:35-12:20 & 25:35-26:40) I also cover this in my workshops.

5. For complex slides, build them up in layers. First establish the axes, then bring the data in point by point. Guy is not a fan of slide builds but Nancy says she may use 200-400 clicks for a 40 minute talk. (18:15 – 20:05)

6. Contrast. This talk was more interesting because it was a conversation between Nancy and Guy. Nancy emphasized that a great presentation needed contrast, such as: two speakers, contrasting the present with the future, vocal variety. (32:45-33:25)

7. Use motion to add meaning, not decoration. Guy never uses animation or transitions. Nancy believes animation can add meaning or emphasis. But she teaches new Duarte employees to pretend Microsoft never even invented certain slide transitions like checkerboard, blinds or boomerang. (34:15-36:50)

8. Prezi. Nancy is not keen about Prezi as a presentation tool.  The zoom in/out adds novelty but doesn’t add meaning. However, Prezi has a lot of potential as a space for teams to collaborate and take visual notes on an event. (37:00-39:05)

9. Webinars. Guy doesn’t do anything different when he presents his slides through a webinar. Nancy, though, offered many useful ideas: use a more animated voice because you’re competing with the audience’s inbox. To simulate eye contact with an audience, she also puts pictures of adoring audiences on her computer. She stands and paces around the room to add inflection and force to her voice.  (40:45-42:45) See also my article on presenting a webinar.

10. Prepare. Guy has to give a presentation about 30 times before he feels he’s mastered it. Nancy practiced 38 hours for her 18 minute TEDx speech. Why? Because a great speech can lead to a million dollars in consulting and speaking opportunities. She is adamant the 38 hours is better than a teleprompter because it allows her to establish eye contact and really connect with the audience. (53:55-55;20)

So, is your philosophy more like Nancy’s? Or Guy’s? Leave a comment and let me know.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the new language of business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

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2 Responses to Do you design slides more like Nancy Duarte or Guy Kawasaki?

  1. Al Bonner says:

    Very useful summary Bruce. It’s nice to have a comparison between their styles and approaches in one place. I have to use webinars a lot for my job and find I approach them like Nancy. My office carpet is getting a lot of wear from all my pacing during my presentations.

    • Thanks for your comments Al.

      I stand when I’m doing conference calls without slides (I’m usually scribbling notes on the whiteboard) but haven’t actually tried a webcast where I’m standing and advancing the slides with a clicker. Seems like a lot of hardware to hold a phone in one hand and a clicker in the other. Is that how you do it?

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