In the beginning, slides were slides. I mean, they were real, physical slides. They really did slide. And they were projected through a slide projector. They were mostly pictures or illustrations. There was almost no text: all the text was spoken out loud by the presenter from notes or memory. You were not able to send those slides via e-mail. They were expensive and took a long time to produce. These were Slides 1.0. Then came “foils,” which were projected transparencies. They were much easier to write on, so speakers began putting brief outlines of what they wanted to say on them: more text and fewer graphics. Then PowerPoint came along and changed everything. Slides became electronic, cheap, and very quick to make. However, manipulating graphics was still very time-consuming and required advanced technical skills. So we ended up with mostly text slides, maybe some charts and occasional clip art. It was a disaster.

People started to complain. Seth Godin in his e-book Really Bad PowerPoint called the prevailing style a “dismal failure.” Edward Tufte, a Yale professor of statistics and one of the most influential figures in the field of visual communication, questioned whether we should be using PowerPoint at all. Gene Zelazny, Director of Visual Communications for McKinsey & Co., in his books Say It with Charts and Say It with Presentations, made a call for simplifying business communication. Nobody, including the majority of McKinsey & Co. consultants, seemed ...

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