Originally posted on Linkedin by Nancy Duarte
Every year, venture capitalist and former securities analyst Mary Meeker and her team put together one of the most anticipated PowerPoint files — the Internet Trends report.
At this year’s Code conference, she delivered 213 data-dense slides in 24 minutes and 40 seconds. Yes, you read that right.
(See the slides and footage of the delivery here.)
Each year after the report is released, I’m approached by many well-meaning fans asking for a comment because they think she’s breaking every rule in the book by not simplifying her slides. In contrast, I love her delivery and her slides. (I can hear you gasping.) Because it’s Mary being her genuine, whip-smart self, delivering incredible insights backed up with proof.
5 Successful Components of “The Meeker Method”
Know Your Audience
Meeker knows that her live-audience enjoys her talk, but her real audience is the vast amount of people that read her slides afterwards. She delivered her talk earlier this week and the video has about 45,000 views, yet her slides have almost a million.
Use Spreadable Media
The slide deck itself is the spreadable media and she knows that. What she has created is a slidedoc. Slidedocs are powerful, dense documents made in slide software that are meant to be read, not presented. (Technically she does present it, which means the slides should be processed at-a-glance, but she does the at-a-glancing for us in her read-along.)
Talk to the Trend of the Data
If you choose to use The Meeker Method, it will only work if you don’t ramble at each data set. Meeker’s verbal stream gives only a few seconds per slide. She doesn’t intend for the audience to read the chart; just get an impression of the trend from the data. Sometimes she’ll say things like, “This is what a global trend looks like,” and click right on by. It’s impossible to process the data that quickly, but the audience knows not to sweat it because the report will be in their hot little hands soon. Meeker just wants you to know that the data supports her point and you can read the specifics later.
Use Source Data in Its Original Form
You can’t criticize Meeker’s visuals too much because many of her slides are compiled by committee, and she leaves them true to the source instead of marketizing the data. Slick matchy-matchy slides would undermine the validity of the data source itself.
Convey the Narrative in the Data
It’s impossible to be bored by Meeker’s presentations because she doesn’t drone for 10 minutes pointing out each annotation on a slide, she uses it to support her über-narrative. Other analytical types may struggle with the style. Many presenters of data drill into the data instead of keeping the larger narrative front and center.
The way Meeker delivers her deck is like a data-dense version of Pecha Kucha — which challenges speakers to deliver presentations of 20 images for 20 seconds each — although Meeker averages about seven seconds per slide. But it’s no surprise that Meeker moves more than twice as fast as the rest of us. Her rapid pace, valuable data, and industry-shaping insights are what makes her talk spread.
Overall, I think it works for her. The deck could definitely be more attractive and redesigned to be clearer but then it wouldn’t be uniquely Meeker.
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