Tell us a little about yourself and your role at the company.
As VP of Marketing and Chief Inspiration Officer, my mission is really to help people learn about and fall in love with Haiku Deck. I’m incredibly passionate about word-of-mouth marketing, and it’s so inspiring to see all the ways that people are using and sharing Haiku Decks.
Some of the best parts of my job are teaching people how (and why) to use Haiku Deck through workshops, webinars, and blog posts; getting to know our superusers; and collaborating on new features. I also create more Haiku Decks than just about anybody else. You can check out my story in Haiku Deck form here.
(As a side note, I first crossed paths with Haiku Deck’s co-founder and CEO Adam Tratt, when we worked at the games company Cranium.)
What was the inspiration behind Haiku Deck?
The company actually began in 2010, at Startup Weekend, as a celebrity-based Facebook game studio, of all things. That business didn't work out quite as planned, so as the team reinvented themselves they had to create quite a few presentations for potential partners and investors. As they went through that process over and over again, they were struck by how difficult it was to create a deck they felt proud of.
They observed that presentation software hadn’t changed very much over the years -- really, it's been business as usual since the invention of the Internet and the mass adoption of mobile devices. They decided to focus on reinventing presentations for how we work, communicate, and create now.
Why "Haiku Deck" - where did the name come from?
The name is inspired by the Japanese poetry form, which of course is built around specific rules -- three lines, the 5-7-5 syllable structure. Within those constraints, an author’s creativity and expression can come to life, and the results are poetic, evocative, and powerful.
We’re trying to do something very similar with Haiku Deck. We provide a framework that unlocks creativity by keeping you focused on a few well-chosen words, a beautiful image, and minimal formatting. In the app, we named one of our themes “Five Seven Five” as a nod to this inspiration. We’ve also had people create Haiku Deck Haikus!
What sets it apart from other presentation apps?
None of the other tools out there make it simple or fun to create a beautiful presentation. Many focus on adding bells and whistles to give your story more “power” or sizzle, but our approach is to help our users communicate effectively and create more inspiring, engaging content. I also have to mention the killer Creative Commons image search, which is a huge time-saver and (for me) a real catalyst for creative flow.
What do you think are common mistakes people make when compiling a presentation?
Probably the number one thing is using too much text. Some people do this to help them remember what they’re going to say; others do it so they can use their slides as a handout or standalone piece of content later. In either case, text-heavy slides are not the best way to communicate your information, and they’re definitely not the way to engage your audience! If you’ve ever felt your heart sink when you see a slide full of tiny bullets, or if you’ve tried to read a typical PowerPoint on your phone, you know what I mean.
Most presentation design experts recommend focusing on one idea per slide, which does take some practice. Before I started using Haiku Deck, I was certainly guilty of trying to cram too much information on every slide! I find that my message flows better and my slides look much better now that I'm not trying to make each one work so hard.
The app has received some phenomenal feedback since launch, were you surprised at how many people took to it so quickly?
We have been thrilled, and humbled, by the positive reception. It’s been amazing. We have worked hard to create a sense of community around Haiku Deck, and the positive feedback and encouragement really keep our tiny team going!
Do you think that its simplicity makes it more suitable for younger students or more accomplished presenters?
It works incredibly well for both, actually! With younger students, the simplicity makes the app easy to learn and use. Pairing words and images is a great way to express themselves creatively, and kids can produce something they’re proud of fairly quickly.
All these things apply to accomplished presenters as well. Because of the simplicity, you can focus on what matters most -- your message -- and spend less time on things like formatting and animated bullets. I also find that the beautiful slides that are so easy to create with Haiku Deck make me feel more confident as a presenter--always a good thing!
In general, how important do you feel the use of mobile technology is for the 21st century educator?
Kids are certainly naturally drawn to technology -- so when you can incorporate it in a way that stimulates their creativity and enriches their learning experience, it can be really powerful. It’s been so inspiring to see the innovative ways that teachers and students have incorporated Haiku Deck into their learning. I’ve seen everything from digital portfolios of artwork to vocabulary-building flash cards, step-by-step lab instructions, and history reports. (We have a great collection of Education Case Studies and Student Work on Pinterest.)
Are there any updates planned for Haiku Deck?
Yes! Starting November 21, iPad users will be able to edit existing Haiku Decks, and create new ones, using the Haiku Deck Web App Beta. This opens up so many exciting possibilities for flexibility and collaboration.
What’s next? Do you have any other projects on the horizon?
Our co-founder and CTO, Kevin, has some amazing ideas up his sleeve, and we’re all always thinking of ways to improve the Haiku Deck experience and to help people become better presenters. So stay tuned!
Thank you so much for speaking with us Catherine and good luck for the future with Haiku Deck.
TO GAIN EXCLUSIVE EARLY ACCESS TO THE WEB APP BETA VERSION OF HAIKU DECK, CLICK HERE.
Embedded below, you can find a sample Haiku Deck presentation.