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Sharing your slides is easy, but is that such a good thing?

August 18, 2010

Presentation slides are easier to share than ever, that is a pretty obvious fact. Unlike in days gone by presentations are no longer conducted with the help of physical slides, this means that within a few clicks of your mouse you can email your presentation to your colleagues with obscene ease. Or if you are feeling particularly exotic you could even upload it to a service like http://www.Slideshare.net (basically a youtube for presentations) and have the whole world have a gander at it.

A few decades ago if you had told people this ease of sharing would be possible they probably would have laughed at you and proceeded to burn you at the stake for being a witch.

Although it is clearly a good thing that we can share files of all types with ease I think there are some pretty clear negatives to this, especially when it comes to presentations.

It is common practice that after giving a talk you are asked to “send your presentation” to the audience in question. That is a pretty fantastic idea… if it could be done effectively. But it isn’t effective, because your slides are not your whole presentation, or at the very least, they shouldn’t be!

The problem is that given the knowledge that slides are often used as documents to be read again at a later date it can be all too tempting to use the same deck to act as both visual aids and a readable stand-alone document. The result is that by trying to be all things to all people, the end set of slides is not brilliant at either function.

As far as I can see there are a few solutions to this.

  1. Don’t present the material in person at all – if the information you are presenting can be understood in a report equally as well as in a presentation, then write a written report and save everybody a lot of time.
  2. You could video the presentation, and send around the video file, then people who missed the event could view the presentation as it was meant to be seen (albeit on a small screen and lacking the ability for interaction).
  3. Or you could put in some hard work and effort and create both a written report and the presentations slides. Not the most popular option, not the easiest option, but perhaps in some circumstances it would be the best option available.
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