Barak Obama’s slides – how they could have looked

In my last post, I spoke about the very poor slides from a recent presentation by by Barack Obama. – the so-called "Yes we Can" speech. Firstly an apology- the slides were not created by Obama, but were created by a blogger to demonstrate how poor slides can ruin a presentation. Sorry for the miscommunication.

However, they are a great example of poor slides, so I have dissected them and shown what could have been done.

The main problems with the slides is that there is far too much text, and there is such missed opportunity for great visuals (I have left the original slides in the bottom left for reference).

I removed the agenda and second hope slide – they were redundant.

Yes we can! – simple and patriotic

Thank you – personally I don’t think that you need this slide, but if you have to have it, show visual of what/who you are thanking (I just stuck the picture of the family in to illustrate).

Time for change – representing the diverse culture of American people.

Change isn’t easy – difficult to break out of the mold – Lego people.

What we’re up against – a brick wall.

What I see – the title does not interest me. Obama is actually speaking about what he sees in his country, so I have renamed it to My country. The picture is a vivid picture of inner-city buildings with fences and graffiti.

We cannot loose hope – picture of patriotic child representing hope for the future.

What I know – also boring title. Obama is speaking about we can achieve, so I called it We can. I am not too sure about the picture of the children, perhaps a bit too cuddly. It also makes a good climatic transition into the last slide, which is…

Yes We can – some stars and strips.

Which slide deck do you prefer?

3 thoughts on “Barak Obama’s slides – how they could have looked”

  1. Craig,

    It’s good that you bring up this topic: I see bad powerpoint presentations all the time.

    I think everyone in business has been in this situation an important but overly boring presentation, which makes it hard to pay attention and absorb the information.

    Here is my advice if power-point must be used:

    1: Close OutlookClose Outlook when you are showing PowerPoint slides. Otherwise, email alerts pop up.

    2: Slideshow Mode

    Always use the slideshow mode: it makes your slides easier to see.

    3: Standing in projector beam

    Always avoid standing in the projector beam, as it is distracting.

    4: Bullets as hooks

    Think of the bullets on your slides as hooks. By that I mean that the bullet should remind you of your talking points but also incite curiosity in your audience. Use questions, alliteration (repetition of consonants) or juxtaposition of ideas to intrigue the audience. For example:

    ? Why Automate Processes?

    ? License to Fail

    ? Magnet Markets

    ? Customers: Faithful or Fickle?

    ? Plan or Wing It?

    ? Tragedy or Triumph?

    5: Use more images

    Incorporate images and negative visual space. Break up all the linear text on your slides with stories, examples, images & metaphors. Otherwise, you are not engaging your audience?s right hemisphere, the brain?s center of imagination. That?s when our minds start to drift, in spite of the fact that the data may be important for us to learn and understand. Use more imagery coupled with metaphor. The image search engine that I use is You can save the image files you find to your hard drive and insert them into PowerPoint. Use files that are between 30 ? 100K for good clarity without bloating your PowerPoint file.
    6: Simplify text

    Most PowerPoint slides are loaded with way too much text. Distill your slides down into simple bullet points with 4 or 6 words per bullet max. Instead, think of the bullets as hooks.

    I like the way you have distilled his message using images here. It is much more moving.

    Thanks for the timely post!
    Terry Gault

  2. Hi Terry-

    Thanks for the comments ? much of what you speak to is in my free ebook ?Putting the Power back into PowerPoint? ? you can download it for free off my website ?

    One thought about using pictures from ? be careful about using copyrighted pictures. If you do an advanced search on, you can search for ?creative commons? material ? basically photos which are legally available for reuse (for free).

    Keep well


  3. Craig,

    Very good point! I sometimes forget to make this point:
    As an educational organization our “fair use” parameters are much broader than many organizations. Since we are often commenting on culture, we enjoy a much more freedom than say a public manufacturing or retail company.

    Flickr, Photobucket, Bigstockphoto are also regular sources of images for me.

    Your point about Creative Commons licensing is dear to my heart.

    Thanks for the response!

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