Hillary Clinton Commits Death by PowerPoint

As part of her narrative on being the more electable candidate, the campaign for Senator Hillary Clinton distributed a PowerPoint slide deck to Democratic members of the House of Representatives, to be viewed, she hoped, by many uncommitted superdelegates.

I wish she had hired me as her presentations coach — at a minimum, I would have pushed for an entirely different approach, and if I’m being completely honest, I would have advised against sending out the slide deck at all.

As you can see from the PDF version of the deck, the slides contain consistent branding via a header but otherwise lack any sort of cohesion at all and are devoid of any effective design. Headlines all have underlines, bullets are misplaced and used inconsistently, photos are used gratuitously, and charts are overladen with information. Slides 6 – 8 contain charts that have obviously been pasted in as graphics: their top borders cut into the text. In the case of Slide 8, it is downright embarrassing.

We did not receive the actual slide deck, only low-res JPGs of the slides, so we cannot say for sure whether the Clinton team attempted to create builds to sequence some of the chunkier data, like the charts and graphs. If we give her content creators the benefit of the doubt and assume that they did create builds for the more dense slides, then they are guilty of creating no navigational assistance whatsoever for the viewers working through the slides.

The photos used are unimaginative and mostly shoved into corners of slides, with no thought whatsoever given to how they might be more evocative and more emotional. The irony here is that there are some truly excellent photos available at the Clinton website. In about one hour, I was able to produce an entire makeover of this slide deck, relying even on low-res screen grabs of website photos.

Above all, this should not have been sent as slideware; it should have been a PDF document. Without a live person advocating these positions, the bulleted content is insufficient for fleshing out the argument. Given Clinton’s position as underdog, these arguments are too nuanced to be made by static bullet slides, especially poorly-designed ones. This deliverable should have been a completely-formatted document, created in InDesign or Xpress, or at a minimum, Publisher, with evocative photos, fully-formulated paragraphs, and integrated data charts.

The data and the argument are potentially compelling, but I score this as a missed opportunity for the New York Senator…