In 1979, Hewlett-Packard introduced the first program for editing presentation slides. It was called BRUNO. It didn't become a big hit (or, in fact, any hit at all) and was soon discontinued. However, the idea of a visual slide editor endured. The demand was great, but software limitations at the time were severe. Only eight years later, when a small startup called Forethought, Inc., produced a piece of software called PowerPoint 1.0, did presentation software become a major hit. Microsoft bought the company, and PowerPoint soon became part of its Office suite. Ten years later, PowerPoint was everywhere. It became ubiquitous in boardrooms, conference rooms, classrooms, ballrooms, and even churches. As with any early mass-production attempt, the quality was quite poor, and the environment suffered. In 2001, Angela Garber, a journalist writing for Small Business Computing, coined the phrase “Death by PowerPoint.” The world had enough. “Why can't you turn off the projector and just speak like a person?” people would ask, and every other book on delivery skills was trying to address this problem.

Let me make a confession: Despite all the bad rep, I love slides. I think they are fantastic. I have loved them all my life, even when I didn't know they existed. In school my favorite class was biology, where we had a gigantic tree of species painted all over the wall. I loved visual aids, and I loved filmstrips. Tinkering with slides is what I do to procrastinate. I don't agree with ...

Get Presentation Secrets: Do What you Never Thought Possible With Your Presentations now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.