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March 20, 2007

The World's Best Presentation Contest

contest-1.jpg SlideShare.net, a site for sharing PowerPoint presentations, today announced The World’s Best Presentation Contest. The judges are a “who’s who” of presentation gurus: Bert Decker, Garr Reynolds, Jerry Weissman, and me.

Contestants upload their presentation files to Slideshare.net, and people from anywhere can rate the entries. Their votes will determine the “People’s Choice” winner. The four judges will select the winners of the contest. Prizes include an Alienware laptop with Windows Vista, XBox 360s, and iPods.

I hope you’ll enter. You should check out my perspective as well as those of my fellow judges, Bert, Garr, and Jerry, to improve your chances!


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I love this idea! I have been doing PowerPoint for years now. Ever since I was a freshman in college. And I have gotten pretty good at them. I never would have thought about a contest for the best one. This has me blown away that I have not thought about it before now. I would love to enter it with some of the presentations that I have made over the years. Some of them are pretty good if I say so myself. There should be categories in it that would make the judging of them so much easier to do. Like one for education, business, beginner, advanced and such. Just an idea for the future that could help grow this contest to other people that might be a little to afraid to try it with a lot of other people entering it also.

In this case (Slideshare contest) there is no story-teller, means no speaker/presenter/actor. Hence the basic idea : imagine a presentation where the presenter is inside, 'on' the slides themselves. Then, this presenter will tell a story.
In the rules for the contest (http://www.slideshare.net/contests/contest-details) the world is defined as 18 of the 245 countries in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries).
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My coworker Rohit and I, entered a presentation in the contest. Check it out. http://www.jess3.com/blog/2007/04/25-blog-styles.html

I was excited when I saw this contest because I have an interesting use of PPT for a market research project. (you can view it here: http://www.madmarketeer.com/ProjectSUTI3D) I also appreciate the comments of all the bloggers wondering how you can judge slides without hearing the presentation ... especially because I used Camtasia to get around that very thing! Problem is, I can't even enter the contest because it won't accept my file. :-(

Can you judge a poem without hearing the poet recite it?

Yes; however, poetry does not require performance just as a presentation does not require slides. Poetry stands alone. As in the case of Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam, the performance supports the poem. The performer can add value to the poem through expression, but this value is additive and not necessary.

In a live presentation, the performance is poetry. The performance stands alone. A set of slides supports the presentation. The slides can add value to the performance through visual or auditory expression, but this value is also additive and not necessary.

Try this: at your next speaking engagement, don't perform. Don't speak. Just show your slides. Let me know how that turns out.

[Guy has] an honorary doctorate from Babson College.

Dr. Guy, eh? Sounds formally informal.

I don't understand how a set of slides can be judged without the presentation. The contest seems to be concerned with mostly aesthetics and organization, which to me are not exactly difficult aspects of presentation design. What are the criteria? How do you judge what makes a set of slides the "world's best presentation"?


Can you judge a poem without hearing the poet recite it?


Thanks Guy for the info. I have entered the contest with the sole aim to share some of my PPTs. I do not expect to win any prizes. But if I do, it will be a sur price.

Thanks again and regards

This sounded really interesting. I was going to send an email to my Toastmasters club.

Bah! Look at this disgusting set of "prizes"!

Best Presentation Prize Details

* 1st Prize
An Alienware Area 51 Laptop (with Windows Vista Ultimate)
* 2nd Prize
An Xbox 360(tm) System (Game Console, 2 Wireless Controllers, Headset, and 20GB Detachable Hard Drive)
Game: Gears of War
Game: X-men: The Official Game
Game: Project Gotham Racing
* 3rd Prize
An Xbox 360(tm) System (Game Console, 2 Wireless Controllers, Headset, and 20GB Detachable Hard Drive)

No thanks!! It's more trouble to sell Microsoft junk than it's worth.

I thought you said there were ipods involved as prizes?

Wow, lots of comments!

Where to start. I guess I should be clear that at slideshare, WE don't think that slides stand alone. They are digital artifacts that often contain interesting narratives, or hints at ideas. But they are more an advertisement for a talk, or a souvenir for a talk, than a replacement for a talk.

In fact, whenever I upload slides, I try to add my speakers notes under each slide. Since slideshare supports commenting on a slide-by-slide basis, this gives you a lot more context than you would have otherwise. In fact, today I had the somewhat weird experience of someone blogging my slide-by-slide comments:

We also think that tags and comments provide some additional social context for a presentation. And we're working on more stuff as well.

I would also agree with the point that better slides typically correlate with a better presentation. A good slide deck means the presenter has committed to memory her main points, and has stopped using the slides as speaking notes. It also is an indicator of overall preparation (unless the slides were made by someone else, which often happens in business).

RE: Keynote. It's a proprietary binary format. So supporting it isn't just a question of adding a few lines of code somewhere. That being said, we ARE working on it, because we know that many people use Keynote. In the meantime, Keynote PDF export is quite good (much better than Keynote PPT export, for some reason ;->), and SlideShare supports PDF. So that's the workaround. Not ideal but it works fine.

I'm happy to address any other questions that people have, either here or via email. Hit me at jon AT slideshare DOT net.

-Jon Boutelle
CTO, SlideShare

On the topic of great presentations I think that there is something to learn from Al Gore. He won an academy award for his presentation.

Cool. But the limitation on file formats seems short-sighted. Slideshare doesn't support videos, advanced animations, PowerPoint 2007, or native Keynote presentations. Slideshare is just for sharing static presentations.

What should be offered as an additional method is a QuickTime video. This is probably the only way to do proper justice to the truly great presentations.

It is a slide contest, not a slideshow contest right? Presenter excluded from what I understand.

Jeremy : maybe the point is to make the presentation a piece of theatre by itself. A *good* presentation is a story. In this case (Slideshare contest) there is no story-teller, means no speaker/presenter/actor. Hence the basic idea : imagine a presentation where the presenter is inside, 'on' the slides themselves. Then, this presenter will tell a story. A kind of cartoon, if you see what I mean. ComicLife is a great presentation tool !...

Although this might be interesting to those of us who spend a lot of time in powerpoint/keynote, the title of the contest is just misleading. Slides are just props. Guy, there's no question that you and your fellow judges are great presenters (and heavyweight communications thinkers). But would you trust a theatre review that was based only on the quality of the sets?

If you can have great sets and a lousy play, why not great slides and a lousy presentation? (On the other hand, maybe it's easier to predict how *bad* a presentation is likely to be based on the quality of the slides? :-)


Hypothetically, couldn't there be a World's Best Poetry Contest where people submitted poems but were not able to read them for the judges?


Hey Jim,

You forgot the 30/20/10 rule :
- 30' each slide
- 20 bullets per slide
- 10 points font

Interesting contest. I agree that it is the presenter that brings life to a presentation. As well, one of the best presentations that I saw had no slides. I guess that was more of a speech (but it was very compelling). I've had good success though, using the 10/20/30 rule. Thanks for sharing that.

I'm surprised this isn't a YouTube-type event as well. Who cares what the slides say or show -- it's the "presentation" of them that matters?


Thanks for the heads up - you'll have to check mine out personally. I used all IstockPhoto images!


No Keynote?!?!?! Apple gives us these great tools, but we can't use them in this contest? Asking us to turn Keynote presentations into PDF is like asking us to enter a swimming contest with our arms duct-taped to our sides. Sure, everyone else will be swimming that way, but once you've gotten used to using arms it's hard to go back.

Sorry for the rant... I know it's not your contest, but I figured that as a Mac guy you would sympathize.

Cornelius and Rhino have a point, even if as you say "good presenters have good slides." I've seen amazing presentations where many of the slides consist of a single word, or a graphic. On their own, it's pretty much impossible to know what is being relayed. With the presenter elaborating and explaining, that word or picture becomes very powerful.

In short, from what I've seen, a good presentation is one where the presenter is a good speaker, and the slides are just there for support or as a prop.

thanks for the heads up on the contest. I follow your blog as well as the ones of Bert and Garr regularly and they are very valuable for me.

As for the contest, I have two problems with it.

- What is a presentation without the presenter?
If we are talking about a presentation that is "best" I think that a mere collection of slides can only be "second best".
This point is actually underlined by the references that you give for the perspective of the judges... ;-)

- Why is slideshare's world so small?
In the rules for the contest (http://www.slideshare.net/contests/contest-details) the world is defined as 18 of the 245 countries in the world (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries). Why?
Mine, Germany, is not on the list. I wasn't aware that I am alien to this world (at least not always...) ;-)

This should really be called "The World's Best Slides Contest."

If slideshare was really interested in the World's Best Presentation, they would link to YouTube videos of contestants giving their presentations.

Slides by themselves are devoid of emotion and power without the messenger.



I conceptually understand what you're saying, but I have never seen a good presenter have lousy slides. A person with lousy slides is almost always a lousy presenter.


Great Guy -- Can't wait to enter. I'm thinking about a nice succinct 60-slide pitch. What do you think.




I think you'll lose. :-)


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