Slideshows as art: The new presentation

Originally published on The Next Great Generation. Credits to our awesome Arts and Entertainment editor Alex Gomez.

Powerpoint, Keynote, Slide Rocket, or Prezi–no matter which tool you use to dazzle and win over audiences from the podium, it should be yielded like a paintbrush in the hands of an artist.

A masterpiece does not depend on the tools used, but on the creativity, process of discovery, and expression achieved with the final form. No matter how simple the tool (as shown by the famous Google Doc slideshow) or complex the idea, an awesome presentation must:

  • Communicate effectively
  • Deliver the right message
  • Follow a keen aesthetic

A deck by presentation guru Jesse Dee talking about decks.
Blog posts and websites such as Note & Point have come up in recent years dedicated to showcasing the best looking slides around. Without speakers to deliver them or accompanying audio, these slides are appreciated by themselves and are expected to convey complex ideas through the use of visuals alone.

What is unique about the slide presentation as an art form–if art scholars would allow me to call them that–is its hybrid quality. Universal design principles and graphic design elements are used to make the decks pretty and the messages more tangible.

A film professor I had back in college called movies the “ultimate art form” for being hybrids. Films combine composition techniques, performance, audio and musical artistry and even computer graphics and graphic design methods. Slide decks, though far from allowing the artistic versatility found in films, are the next best thing.
Slides I used in a recent talk for students in Marikina.

That being said, think outside of the slideshow box and treat your next presentation with the same entertainment value as a favorite movie or video. Photographs are often used in slides, but some prefer to mount their decks purely with illustrations or graphical typography.

Audience snoozing from so many still images? Some presentation tools and websites such as Slideshare also allow video and audio embedding within the slides. FlikrSlidr allows you to embed a slideshow into your blog or webpage as an easy way of showcasing your presentation prowess.

While great presentations also package and visualize data and heavy information to make them easily digestible, some would even want to push the visual aspect of slides by making them text-free.

Remember that a presentation per sé is sometimes meant to function like a children’s storybook whose pages can be shuffled through to convey thought after thought or scene after scene in the story. Think: this should be simple enough to be understood by many. Jesse Desjardins of Slideshare does this job quite neatly.

Text-heavy and bulleted presentations are slowly becoming a thing of the past with new slide design practices such as the Zen presentation to a point of making the slides meaningless without the speaker’s narration.

There are indeed numerous creative (and artistic) possibilities within the realm of slide presentations. Lucky for us, Mashable compiled a list of the 30+ Best Presentations and Slideshow Services.