Haiku Deck: a simple way to make better presentations (review)

I recently wrote a harsh review of Prezi, focusing on how that tool makes it easy to make distracting, annoying presentations. On the other end of the spectrum is a new iPad app called Haiku Deck.

Haiku Deck takes a radically simple approach. The tool has very few features. It lets you pick background images and then write a sentence of two of text over them. That’s it. It’s incredibly simple, but this is very good for audiences everywhere. A major problem in most presentations is how complex and overwrought they are. Most people start by making elaborate, complex slides, believing it’s the slide that makes the talk, rather than their clarity of thinking.

Using Haiku Deck will help many speakers avoid many of the common traps. You can’t cram your slides full of bullets. You can’t make complex flowcharts with tiny 8pt font labels. Haiku pretty much ensures you’ll follow much of the advice in Garr Reynold’s classic Presentation Zen. Simply put, you are forced to keep your slides clean and simple, meaning you have to do the heavy lifting of thinking through who your audience is, and what they need to learn from you, which is the only way to make a better presentation anyway.

A major time sink in making good slide decks is finding images to use, but Haiku helps there too. It automatically queries rights free image databases, allowing you to confidently include images that you have permission to use. Of course you can use your own photos too.

An easy complaint die-hard Powerpoint/Keynote users will have is how many features, from flowcharts, to shapes, to graphs, they may think they depend on are not in Haiku Deck. In most cases they will be better off, as all of those things were less effective than they think anyway. Haiku does support exporting to Powerpoint (which I have not tried).

My major complaint is entirely selfish: the basic style Haiku deck uses, with full screen images covered by a single point in an easy to read font, is the core style I’ve used in my own talks for years (especially at Ignite talks). I fear if Haiku deck becomes popular I’ll look more like a follower than someone a little ahead of the curve.

The app is free. You can share your presentations on Twitter, Facebook, and by email.  I’d guess they’re planning to offer style packs and add-ons for cost in the future, but the core app is free.

Download Haiku Deck for iPad here.

16 Responses to “Haiku Deck: a simple way to make better presentations (review)”

  1. Lisa Braithwaite

    Scott, it’s funny you mention your fear of looking like a follower. Haiku Deck made a slideshow for me out of one of my blog posts and sent it to me, and my first thought was, “That looks exactly like one of my own presentations!” I guess it’s a good thing that this will make our favorite presentation style easier than ever for people to put together. We might have to sacrifice our own originality for the greater good. :-)

  2. Michelle Mazur

    Wanted to add that it exports to PowerPoint beautifully. I recently did a slidecast using Haiku deck and wanted the slides in PowerPoint for ease of use. It was effortless. I’m going to be using this app a lot more for designing presentations. It is just so easy to make a nice looking deck!

  3. Holly

    I love Haiku Deck as an educator because of it’s photos and simplicity. However, I cannot use it because it shows explicit photos if once searches with terms like, naked.

    It’s a shame they couldn’t create an educational friendly version for children.

    1. Catherine

      Holly, we appreciate your feedback. This is actually something we are talking about and working on. We do use filters wherever we can but when we’re trying to make more than 35 million beautiful pictures available, it’s not an easy fix. We appreciate your patience (and ideas) to make Haiku Deck even more education-friendly!
      Catherine from the Haiku Deck team

    2. Kevin Leneway

      Hi Holly,

      I’m a co-founder of Haiku Deck and the creator of the app. Earlier in my career I spent a year teaching in a middle-school computer lab, so I have first-hand experience with this specific issue.

      Currently our image search algorithm is using the “safe search” flag, but given that we have millions of images in our dataset, we are unable to filter out all inappropriate images. We are working on some improvements in this area, such as a blacklist feature that will filter out explicit searches, but we will continue to have the 14+ rating on the app as some explicit photos can still show up in non-explicit searches.

      We are currently looking to contact several tech-ed early adopters of Haiku Deck to get some suggestions on features we can add to the app to help address this issue, and also see if we can get some guidance around existing school IT policies and procedures that are used with other apps. If you or anyone else is interested in helping us address this issue, please feel free to contact me at founders AT haikudeck.

  4. Michael Cenkner

    This sounds awesome except for the iPad part, since Apple has made working with images on the iPad really, really painful. Literally, how do you get an image from your computer into a haikudeck presentation? Or would I have to use your images only?(?) Thanks!

    1. Kevin

      Hi Michael, I’m the creator of the app. Part of the “secret sauce” of our app is the built-in image search that analyzes your text and suggests high-quality creative commons images to use. If you prefer, we also let you add your own images. You can add images from your camera roll, or import directly from Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, or Picasa. Hope that helps, if you have any other questions, feel free to email me at kevin@haikudeck.com.

  5. Aprill Allen

    Yes! You are so right about the selfish complaint that everyone will start copying my awesome HaikuDeck slide style. I want to tell everyone how great it is, but I don’t want anyone to know it exists! ;)

  6. test site

    Hi there, I simply wanted to say, you’re dead wrong. Your own point fails to make any sense.

  7. Christina

    From my own personal experience using Haiku Deck, I truly could not disagree more. I wanted to try it out to create one PowerPoint for school. I did not realize till the day I had to download it to send to my teacher, that you are forced to upgrade to the pro subscription in order to do the most important thing related to a presentation. I was low on time, and highly frustrated, especially after seeing the outrageously expensive subscription prices. There was one option that I believe billed the annual fee of around $50 or $60. The other option listed was a per month price of $9.99 per month. I thought that signing up for this option would start me on the free trial, and then if I decided I didn’t like it, then I could safely cancel before being charged. I was mistaken, and I emailed Haiku Deck’s customer service to let them know I had been already charged $19.99 incorrectly, and I explained that I thought I was on the free trial and I did not want this subscription, that this was clearly an accidental purchase and politely asked for a refund for this subscription I never wanted and didn’t even know I was purchasing. I received a quick response back from a Haiku representative named Adam, and was outraged and shocked with their callous, insulting, and degrading reply back to me. He stated that essentially this situation is my fault, that I should have read the fine print more carefully, and that I would not be issued a refund because nowhere in the terms of service is there a place to address when a customer makes accidental purchase. This is by far the worst customer service I have EVER received from a business. You entrapped me into choosing what I believed was a trial followed by your fancy expensive subscription, simply so I could download and send my teacher my presentation for class, and then when I see that I’ve been charged double the price of the per month subscription fee and alert your customer service, I am promptly insulted and disparaged by one of your representatives who claim that there is no way for your company to refund me my hard earned money for a subscription that I immediately cancelled once I realized I was not on a free trial like I had thought. Really?! Is walking away with my $19.99 for a subscription I never used or wanted and cancelled immediately once I figured out what was really going on, really worth the amount of distress and high inconvenience that this Haiku Deck Representative caused me? I’ve contacted your customer service once again to seek my refund, and I truly hope that I hear from a representative who has a shred of human decency in them and will act like a customer service person ought to act, in a kind and compassionate manner. An attitude that your business really cares about it’s customer base, and is incredibly sorry that I have had the most horrifically negative customer experience with not only your business, but with one of your very own representatives.



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