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The Evolution of Presentations

Professional companies are always looking for creative ways to stand out. One way that companies can stand out is by having creative and visual presentations that really impress prospective and current clients, colleagues, top management and others. The importance of presentations cannot be emphasized enough. Whether it be to sell a business product, pitch a new startup, train new employees, or motivate an audience, presentations are a fundamental component in the business and communication ecosystem. In the past when slides were made by hand it might take several days to design a slide deck and it was really expensive.
When PowerPoint was introduced in 1987, presentations changed forever.

In this article, DeckRobot speaks about how presentations have evolved over time and how they've turned into the slide decks we know today.

Presentations in ancient times

A presentation is a visual tool designed to help a person tell their story. The types of stories can be for various purposes from educational, entertainment to business.
Cave paintings were the first of such "visual tools" that helped to tell a story. Neanderthal cave paintings, considered to be the first instances of art in human history, were created to tell stories of personal experiences.
Jumping ahead thousands of years gothic cathedrals were lined with grand colorful stained glass windows that also used to tell different stories mainly from the Bible and the life of Jesus. Each painting and each window of ancient times is now considered a “vintage presentation slide.”


The first and main purpose of presentations has always been education. The first tool used for presenting lessons to students to teach them was the well-known chalkboard. In fact, teachers have used chalkboards for hundreds of years to teach many generations of students. Some teachers used to write as they described the lesson, while others prepared the boards beforehand. The latter was the most similar to the kind of presentations we know of today.
In the past, even scientists and mathematicians used chalkboards to present their ideas and findings to their colleagues and the public. To fit in their discoveries in the science world they used very large boards. While explaining, they pointed at different sections of the board with a long stick.
A perfect example is the photograph of a group of NASA scientists in 1961 showing a photojournalist how they worked out calculations about space exploration.

Chalkboards led to digital presentations

The chalkboard will always represent the classroom, however, chalkboards are now more popular in bars and restaurants rather than in the classrooms.
In recent years, instructors have replaced boards in favor of PowerPoint presentations and interactive whiteboards (IWB). However, there does not seem to be a significant difference in learning outcomes when the same information is presented in PowerPoint rather than handwritten on boards. However, whiteboards are now interactive and still used in classrooms around the world.


Back in the 1900s when educators and salespeople wanted to present in a more engaging and interactive way they went from using chalkboards, flip charts, and poster cards to using projectors. The first projector was The Magic Lantern which used a candle or kerosene lamp to project light through the film transparencies. With the invention of electricity projectors quickly evolved and so did presentation design.

Slides and transparencies

The first instances of slide design in history where we see actual slide design practices were in the opening and ending credits in movies. What people did to achieve that result later formed the basis for all the slide design techniques that followed. In the 60s and 70s, these people approached some techniques to create informational filmstrips, much like this.

People were ordering pre-made filmstrips from film studios and sure they were great, but they were not always what educators or salespeople needed. This need was the reason for the rise of the slide designer. Teachers started to learn how to create slides and transparencies for their own lessons with the help of videos like this.

Teachers used overhead projectors in classrooms for a fairly long time during the 70s, 80s and well into the 90s.
They used prepared transparency slides, which they could also write on, and gave lessons with the information projected on a screen or whiteboard. Overhead projectors were also used for business purposes, such as during meetings with prepared printed transparencies.

Eventually, in 1965, the well-known Kodak Carouselwas introduced which brought to life more sophisticated slide designs such as slide transitions and visual effects.
Today and beyond

With all the presentation software available now, the actual design style of the slides depends greatly on the creator of the presentation. Not only are there tons of different types of software, but there are also thousands of templates available for all platforms.

At DeckRobot, we make it really easy for you to create presentations that are timeless. DeckRobot is an easy PowerPoint add-in for users that helps to reduce manual work and save up to 40% of your working time while preparing Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. The plugin helps you to create appealing presentations in just a few minutes that match the company brand book guidelines with a focus on the quality of the content. You can easily adjust all the visual elements in each slide of your presentation like fixing headers, footers, background, logo, font, color pallet according to the chosen corporate guidelines.

As a result, with DeckRobot your completed presentations will feel more like smooth projects instead of clunky slide decks.

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