Sometimes, "pretty" presentations just don't cut it.

In today's rapidly changing professional landscape, we've got a lot to communicate. In-depth analysis of Big Data, market research, and comprehensive strategic planning initiatives—the list goes on.

That influx of information has made getting across all the necessary data using only sparse, cinematic slides difficult. Presenters have begun packing more and more info onto their slides and either distributing them as documents or presenting them anyway.

Those solutions do a disservice to both your audience and your ideas. Busy schedules leave little time to digest dense documents, and overly complex presentations are a recipe for boredom. By attempting to be both a presentation and a document, those half-baked decks aren't accomplishing either goal.

Those circumstances have created the need for a new medium: a slidedoc. It's a well-designed, visual document that is intended to be read, not presented.

So, when do you need a slidedoc? Below are four reasons you should seek a new medium.

1. When you've got too much data to digest

When you need to convey a lot of complex ideas and information, creating sparse slides is probably not the answer. A slidedoc allows you to include all the important data you want to share, along with the visual and textual support your audience needs to grasp the concept.

2. If your presentation should be a conversation

Consider the goals for your presentation. Are you attempting to persuade your audience, or are you looking to them for input and feedback? If it's the latter, asking a group of people to digest information, formulate feedback, and express it during an hour-long meeting is a lot to ask.

By distributing a clear, cohesive slidedoc to the group before your presentation or meeting, you're saving your audience time that would be spent deciphering a dense document or sitting through a bloated presentation, and empowering them to come prepared with feedback.

3. Because you know someone is going to say, "Send me your slides"

Whether asking for your deck before your presentation to size you up or after to use as reference material, someone inevitably will want to get their paws on your deck. So, plan for requests! Marketers know the importance of beautiful, branded collateral—and that should extend to every piece of communication you create.

Creating a visual, informative slidedoc that is meant to be read creates a better experience for your audience members, and in turn, gives them a more positive impression of you. A well-crafted slidedoc represents you—and more importantly, your ideas—as well as they deserve.

4. You want to help your ideas be understood and spread quickly

Say what you will about PowerPoint, but it's one of the most pervasive authoring tools in organizations today, second only to e-mail. Its widespread adoption, along with the ability to easily copy, paste, and combine decks, makes the chances of audiences distributing your content more likely.

You've probably not only already read slidedocs in your organization, you've probably even created them. Every time your slides can travel through the organization and be understood without the help of a presenter, you've written a slidedoc.

* * *

Until now, there have been no best-practices around using the medium this way. To help people communicate their ideas more effectively, I've released a free guide to creating slidedocs, which you can read or download here (email registration required). Read the information, put it into practice for your next presentation or meeting, and watch how people respond. I bet they'll understand your ideas better.

By changing the way we approach delivering presentations and distributing documents, we can save our audience's time, make our messages easier to understand, and even help them spread more quickly throughout your organization and beyond.

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Four Reasons We Need a New Presentations Medium

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image of Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte is CEO of Duarte Design. She released Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences (Wiley, 2010), which identifies hidden story structures inherent in great communication. She authored the award-winning book slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations (O'Reilly Media, 2008), where more than 20 years of experience is distilled into visual-communication best practices.

LinkedIn: Nancy Duarte

Twitter: @nancyduarte