About Using Slide Decks for Technical Design Reviews

A danger of using slide decks for technical design reviews is loss of important technical information. In order to summarize something in a slide or slide deck, the presenter thins-out information without its raw data and divorces it from the plots, graphs, and other technical analyses.

Slide decks are useful to the presenter to pull together a meeting. Slide decks are terrible for the reviewers who need to review technical information and make decisions from it.

In this episode, I review some alternatives:

  • eliminating slide decks all together; use the technical report with executive summary and a 10 minute study hall at the top of the meeting
  • very sparse slide deck content, instead referencing the completed technical report
  • a report formatted with all the details like Nancy Duarte's Slidedocs®, a hybrid between a technical document and a slide


Need an example of why slide decks are a bad idea for technical reviews? Check out Edward Tufte's analysis of NASA's Columbia incident and its use of PowerPoint slides to analyze and make decisions.

Tufte, Edward. "PowerPoint Does Rocket Science--and Better Techniques for Technical Reports." www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0001yB&topic_id=1.

Once you've had a chance to listen, I want to hear from you. Share your answer in the comments section: Do you have any other suggestions for presenting data at a Design Review?

Check out these references for extra information. I mention all of these in the podcast.

Duarte, Nancy. "Slidedocs®." www.duarte.com/slidedocs.

Tufte, Edward. "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint: Pitching Out Corrupts WIthin." Beautiful Evidence. Graphics Press, LLC, 2006. pp. 162-168. 

Weiner, Jeff. “A Simple Rule to Eliminate Useless Meetings.” Linked-in, www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130701022638-22330283-a-simple-rule-to-eliminate-useless-meetings/. 

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