Wondering why PowerPoint presentations are called decks? (Now you know)

Man presenting to a crowd

Why PowerPoint presentations are called decks, a question that lingered in my mind for a long time until I decided to jump on to finding out exactly why! And here I am to share all that I have learned about why PowerPoint presentations are called decks.

But before we dive deeper into understanding PowerPoint decks, it is very important to refresh our knowledge of some of the basics.

What are presentations?

Presentations are a way of conveying some information, idea, or opinion to your audience either with or without the use of visuals, in most cases PPTs.

While most of the time, we are bound to confuse presentations with PowerPoint presentations, they aren’t the same thing.

Presentations are a much wider spectrum that includes PowerPoint presentations as a part of it.

So then,

What are PowerPoint presentations?

PowerPoint presentations are slide decks created on the specific software called Microsoft PowerPoint that was released by Microsoft (duh!) in the year 1987. PowerPoint helps create easy and effective digital slide decks; since it is so widely used, it has become synonymous with presentations at large.

It is similar to how we call photocopies Xerox!

(pst if you don’t understand the analogy, check out what we are trying to say here)

Why are PowerPoint presentations called decks?

Decks in presentations are a collection of slides (individual pages in PowerPoint). And since PowerPoint presentations are nothing but a collection of well-laid-out slides, they are called decks.

Now to understand it better, let’s begin with the fundamental structure, shall we?

Assuming you go to PowerPoint right now, what is the first thing you’ll see?

A blank template that would prompt you to add text, right? That is a slide. As you keep adding slides to your PowerPoint, the collection of these slides, in the end, is what we call a deck.

But then again,

Why is it called a PowerPoint deck?

A PowerPoint deck is similar to a deck of cards. In a deck of cards, a deck is composed of 52 cards; Similarly, in PowerPoint, a deck or pile of slides is what is known as a PowerPoint deck.

So, does this mean that the presentation is important only in its entirety and not as individual slides?

Absolutely no!

Just like in a game of cards, the ace carries its importance and so does a card of jack; In PowerPoint decks too, each slide carries with it its unique importance. However, when separated the slides would lose their meaning.

Again, what would you do if you find a queen card lying on your room’s floor? slide it under the bed? I mean it would be ideal considering you don’t know where the rest of the cards are!

Similarly, individual slides gain their meaning when they are compiled with other slides.

This means each slide carries its own different set of information that helps in conveying an idea at the end.

When did PowerPoint presentations become decks?

PowerPoint presentations became decks on the day they came into being, that is in 1987.

Presentations had been made using stacks of papers or sheets filled with information even before digital presentations came into being.

As shocking as it may be, presentations already involved the use of decks in some form or the other from the very initial day of the specification building our communication skills.

While we started with rock paintings or carvings, we can include them as a form of presentation but not as decks.

Later came the use of sheets or paper to deliver information. This was done using flip paper cards.

There is evidence that presentations using flip charts became very common during the 1940s. These sheets or posters would be joined together with the help of metal fasteners. The speaker or presenter would then flip from one page to the other to share information.

Sounds very similar to our digital presentations, doesn’t it? Except we don’t have to tire our arms by flipping pages. We can simply click to move on to the next slide. How convenient!

Coming back to the last bit of our history of slide decks, somewhere in the 90s -2010’s PowerPoint as a software gained major attention from the public. The slide decks started to be created on PowerPoint exclusively and that is how we moved from saying slide decks to PowerPoint decks.

Going over it again

What is a slide deck in PowerPoint?

A slide deck in PowerPoint is nothing but a collection of slides in Microsoft PowerPoint.

What is a PowerPoint slide deck?

It is just another way of saying Slide decks in PowerPoint!

Why are PowerPoint slides called decks??

Since PowerPoint gives you a collection of slides or a deck of slides, it is known as decks.

What is the purpose of a Slide deck in a presentation?

Slide decks help the presenter present his/her/their topic more effectively. It aids the presenter in giving the speech by providing prompts or hints to maintain a flow in their speech. On the other hand, it helps the audience visualize as they listen to the speaker.

Out of the many purposes that a slide deck can serve a presenter, here are a few that we would like to address in this article:

1. To pitch new ideas or products

Slide decks happen to be a very crucial part of making pitches to attract your clients, or to make them understand what your product/ services are all about and how they can be beneficial to them.

Some of the ways we can try to win over or convince the client/ customer to agree to your terms are by showing charts or graphs of your previous success rates or giving out statistics on the problem that your company or product provides a solution for.

2. To explain or introduce a concept

Slide decks being used to explain a concept is something that I believe we have all experienced in schools or colleges.

With smart classrooms, the blackboards have found their place in restaurants and cafes and presentations have made their way to now be a widely used way of delivering lectures.  

3. To share one’s opinions or views

Be it in conferences or competitions or even in your college when you are presenting on a topic, it is mostly with the purpose of sharing your opinions, views, or findings through slide decks.

How do you create a deck in PowerPoint?

When it comes to creating decks in PowerPoint, there are two things that we need to take a look into, the technical aspects and the aesthetic ones. 

When we talk about the technical aspect of creating a deck in PowerPoint, we mean ensuring that you have the software installed in your system, be it a laptop or even your phone.

Head to AppStore or play store and install it. 

Though we have been taught how to create PowerPoint presentations since very early days, we still suggest you take a minute and understand the various features offered by the software like the layouts, themes, and more. Having an understanding of some of the basic features can help you in creating a basic template easily!

If, however, you are looking for ways to create a slide deck other than on PowerPont, then head to some of the most resourceful sites that provide you with a number of templates!

A few such sites are Canva, Evanto, and more

Now when we talk about the Aesthetics of creating a PowerPoint, we first need to accept and appreciate the fact that the aesthetics or look of your presentation can add extra points to your entire presentation. 

We have a list of 5 tips for the same. And if you follow them, you will surely be able to find an answer to..

Why are PowerPoint presentations effective?

A few tips for creating presentations:

1. Less is more

We have all heard this one a gazillion times and more, especially when it comes to Powerpoint presentations, Less is more!

Provide very precise information in your PowerPoint. To make your points short. You can stick to using the 5 by 5 model. The model suggests that you must not add more than 5 points to a slide. And each point must contain no more than 5 words. 

If you still have no idea what you should add, try adding your headings and subheadings in your PowerPoint to make it more on point.

Slide on Public Speaking

2. Quality over quantity 

Again, adding less content doesn’t mean that you compromise on the quality of information that you share through your presentation. Add short points that make sense and add value to your audience or help in putting your point across in the best way possible. 

3. Keep the curiosity alive

What does it mean when we say keep the curiosity alive? We mean, try not to share your entire slide to your audience in one go. Add effects or transitions to focus only on the point you are speaking on at that point. 

We can say the same in the case of adding too much information to your PowerPoint. Do not add big paragraphs as you shatter your viewer’s curiosity who thanks to you ar enow more engrossed in reading the slides than listening to your presentation. 

4. Neutralize your PowerPoint

By neutralizing we mean adding complementing slides to your PowerPoint decks. If you have selected a more dark theme, try neutralizing it with light-toned slides even if it is used as a transition slide. 

5. Add visuals as and when possible

Ask yourself, can the information that you have added in your PowerPoint presentation be presented in the form of a graph, a table, or a diagram? If yes, then always choose to do it. Switch to visuals as it not only makes your content crisper but also is more appealing to the viewers.

This brings us to our next point, 

Why PowerPoint presentations are not effective?

There are many reasons why PowerPoint can not be very effective. We have listed down about 3 reasons here. Go over them and try to not make the same blunders if you want to be an effective presenter!

1. Tons of Content

Adding more content to your slide may indeed help you remember the content better but it might bore the audience to death.

So just as we discussed, try to add content to your presentations in the form of short pointers. Or least try to make use of keywords and avoid writing entire paragraphs about your topic on the PowerPoint presentation.

An example of what simply copy-pasting a paragraph from your speech to PowerPoint could look like.

PPT slide on Public Speaking

2. Poor color/ theme

The last thing we want is for the audience to struggle reading or seeing what we are trying to show them through the presentation. And this situation can possibly happen when there was little to no thought put into either selecting the right theme or use of overlapping colors.

Check out the example below if you want to take a look at what we are talking about!

Slide on Public Speaking

3. Poor font choice

Another way of making it difficult for your audience to understand your presentation is by using fonts like the one shown in the picture below. Such fonts may surely be a little different, and to some extent aesthetic but it requires lots of effort from the viewers to actually understand what is written on the slide!

Slide on Public Speaking

Final words

Let us try to summarize the entire blog for you in a couple of lines.

So essentially call it decks, slide decks, or presentation decks, they all mean the same. It is simply a collection of slides. And when such a collection is made on Microsoft’s PowerPoint, what do we call it?

Yes! you guessed it right (Hopefully?)

It is called PowerPoint decks or slide decks on PowerPoint.

There are tons of ways of making a PowerPoint deck. However, focusing on the template, and theme, and adding precise and quality content can help you go a long way.

That’s about it for now! Check out Frantically Speaking for more information on similar topics.

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