Use Haiku Deck for Simple, Elegant Presentations

I’ve never been one to make use of slide-based presentations when I teach or when I present at conferences or other events. Why? For one thing, Microsoft PowerPoint — perhaps the most commonly-used software for such tasks — just seems too complicated. Of course, I realize that another word for “complicated” is “sophisticated” or “powerful,” and PowerPoint allows a presenter to do all kinds of advanced things.

However, if I want to create a simple slide deck for a presentation, I find the interface for PowerPoint — as with many Microsoft Office products — to be too distracting, too time-consuming. I know, I know… If I were to use PowerPoint regularly, the interface would probably start to feel “natural” or “intuitive” to me, but the truth is that I only need to use it about once or twice a year. (And, to be fair, my experience of Apple’s Keynote is pretty much the same.)

Many Options for Presentations

We’ve published a great deal about presentations and presentation software here at ProfHacker. Jason has given advice about how to improve Powerpoint-style presentations, for example. And we’ve covered a wide range of styles and software applications, from pecha kucha, to the “1/1/5 rule,” to Prezi, to using Prezi with Omeka, to Bee Docs Timeline, to Markdown and MDpress (example to be found here), to Slideshark, to Flowboard.

Using Haiku Deck

A colleague recently demonstrated how to use Haiku Deck (available in the iTunes store), a free iPad app for creating and showing presentations. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now in the summer class I’m teaching, and so far I (mostly) love it.

Rather than create a detailed, screenshot-rich tutorial myself, I’ll point you to these posts on the official Haiku Deck blog:

  1. Getting Started.”

  2. Edit Mode

  3. Presentation Mode

Like any app, this one has its pros and cons.


Radical simplicity: It’s just about impossible to create a cluttered, confusing slide with this app. You are restricted to two lines of text or a bullet list of no more than 5 items. From within the app you can search Flick for Creative Commons images to use as a fullscreen background for each slide or choose from a short selection of solid background colors.

Ease of use: The interface for creating and playing presentations is also radically simple. As such, it’s a snap to figure out how to use this app. One especially nice feature is how easy it is to search Flickr from within the app.

Presentation flexibility: If you can’t or don’t want to present a Haiku Deck slide deck from your iPad, you may export the presentation in a format compatible with either PowerPoint or Keynote. Alternatively, if you’ve uploaded your presentation to the Haiku Deck server, you may present the web-based version. And finally, from the web-based version of your presentation, you may export to Slideshare.


iPad-only: If you don’t have an iPad, you can’t create presentations with Haiku Deck. It’s not available for the iPhone, the iPad Touch, any Android devices, MS Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux. Granted, there are many iPad apps for which the same could be said. However, I know that not all ProfHacker readers have (or want to have) iPads, so this deserves to be mentioned. Update: If you’d like to request that Haiku Deck be made available on another platform, you can let them know by filling out this extremely short survey.

Radical simplicity: This pro may also be perceived as a con. If you want to deviate in any way from the default settings for layout and design, you’re out of luck. (I haven’t found this to be a problem, but I can imagine it might be for others.)

Lack of credit for Flickr photos: While there are certainly many photos on Flickr that feature a Creative Commons license allowing you to use them for a presentation, a significant percentage of those photos have a license that requires you to give attribution to the photographer. “Hey, who took that beautiful photo on slide 5?” Sorry, I have no way of knowing that information if all I’m using is Haiku Deck. A future update of this app would do well to build in the ability to automatically grab that metadata and incorporate it somehow into the presentation. Update: I was wrong about this: It turns out that Haiku Deck automatically grabs and embeds the attribution information on each slide featuring a CC-licensed Flickr image. That’s pretty fantastic. I feel like I’m nitpicking here, but if it were up to me I’d also add this function: automatically create a slide (or series of slides) at the end of the deck providing attribution information for any and all CC-licensed images.

Occasional hiccups: Although my experience has been mostly positive, I’ve had some difficulty with 2 presentations. Yesterday, I couldn’t save to the Haiku Deck server. Now, I make presentations from my iPad, so it’s not a big deal to me if I can’t save to the server. But those users who want to use another tool for presentations would find themselves completely stymied by such a snafu. You can’t even export to PowerPoint/Keynote until you’ve uploaded your presentation to their server. A future update of this app should allow users to back up and export their presentations without first having to upload them to a possibly-unrelable server.

How about you? Have you used Haiku Deck? What’s your take? Alternately, what are your favorite tools for creating and presenting your presentations? Please share in the comments!

[CC-licensed Flickr photo by kleneway1379]

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