PowerPoint can be incredibly convincing when done well, but sitting through the much-maligned scourge of presentations is, all too often, mind-meltingly, sleep-inducingly, soul-crushingly, dull—not to mention completely ineffective. What makes this basic medium so difficult to master? Ravi Mehta, CEO of recently launched Slidevana, believes it’s a matter of understanding the format. "Unless you’re a graphic designer, you’re generally used to thinking in words and prose. PowerPoint is a type of visual communication; a lot of people go into it without shifting their perspective, which is why they can end with something that looks more like a teleprompter," he tells Co.Design. His company aims to take the guesswork out of creating slides with a set of 150 templates—"a complete toolbox"—that will, in theory, help direct users to a more compelling means of getting their message across.
Mehta designed all the slides himself, but he is not a designer.* Instead, his experience comes from years in the tech industry, both giving and observing presentations in all their glory (or infamy). As for the design of the slides themselves? Well, they look pretty standard-issue. The key for Mehta is ease of use. "We present prefab slides so people can dive right in and start working on telling their story," he says, stories that will either appeal to emotions, with image- or quote-based slides, or reason, with data-centric diagrams. In a conscious choice to cut down on unnecessary clutter, only two themes are offered: Dark, which suits dramatic keynote addresses in large, dimmed rooms, and Light, a better choice for more intimate roundtable talks or printed presos. Inserting your own content is done with an easy drag-and-drop, and it’s possible to customize throughout a deck.
One-time customers are able to access any new additions to the collection, and the service is offered for PowerPoint for both Windows and Mac, as well as Keynote. It would have been interesting to see what Mehta would have created in collaboration with a design professional to refine the format, because there’s certainly ample room for these PowerPoint presentations to improve their aesthetic appeal. And ultimately, to achieve the kind of professional transcendence implied in Slidevana’s company name, you’ll have to really distill your mission statement. "The most important part of the presentation is the moral," Mehta says, and no pie chart in the world will help you fabricate that.
*Our advice: Hire a designer. Quickly. Because these things need a ton of work.—Ed.