Are you Team #Slides or Team #Docs?

Are you Team #Slides or Team #Docs?

Here’s the right answer:

It depends.

Some use cases are obvious. You probably wouldn’t take a 5-page vertical doc to a client presentation, for example.

But sometimes the distinction is less clear.

In those cases, here are the questions I ask myself to decide whether to build a doc or a deck:

💡 How hot/cold do I want to be? 

Some people think of slides as tablestakes. After all, it would seem to make sense that the more visually appealing something is, the better it has a chance of landing.

This isn’t always true.

Instead, I suggest thinking about how “hot” or “cold” you want to be.

Hot = when I need to sell / sway / influence / pitch hard. I then often find myself gravitating towards slides.

Cold = when I want to minimize distractions. Sometimes you want to keep your structure intentionally boring (yet incredibly straightforward) with no risk of misinterpretation. Docs are often a great tool for that.

💡 How nuanced is my material?

The danger of getting too comfortable with slides is that you can get away with lazy thinking (and not even realize it).

After all, once you have themes, key phrases, and buzzwords – you can just put them in pretty boxes on a slide. And it’ll look great.

But you won’t have to explain the what, why, how, and when.

Sometimes those TED-talk like slides can do wonders. But sometimes it’s just lazy thinking, and you want to stick to docs.

(Related read: here’s how being “grammatical” can help you do strategy better.)

💡 How far will my material travel?

Sometimes content needs to travel far within the org. People with little context of your world will read it and make decisions accordingly.

In these cases, stick to docs to minimize the loss of nuance and context.

Sometimes it’s as basic as writing down the objective of your document. You’d be surprised at how confused people can be when they access great material, but have no idea why it was created in the first place.

💡 How iterative do I want this process to be?

If you want to invite collaboration and make people comfortable with providing inputs: docs are your friend.

I’m not saying that you can’t collaborate on slides.

But tweaking or editing an isolated part of someone else’s slides is daunting and difficult. You might mess up the alignment, the formatting, some pattern that exists throughout the deck unbeknownst to you…

And so you just end up saying "LGTM."

Plus, slides tend to give off the vibe of finished work. No one wants to meddle in what’s perceived to be near-ready work.

Docs are much more inviting in that sense. People can easily drop in bullet points, or add nuance to sentences without worrying they “broke” something.

And lastly…

💡 Why do I need to choose?

You don’t have to purely stick with one or the other. You can drop in single slides into a vertical doc to leverage visuals. You can also build prose into your slides to instill proper context for your offline audience.

You just have to know what exactly you’re trying to achieve.

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