The Difference Between Presentation Slides and a Deck

These phrases can often be used interchangeably, but, from our perspective, there is a real difference in their meaning and goals. Read on to learn about the differences.
Matt Talbot
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CEO of Superchart
November 15, 2022

Just because we may use the same tools to accomplish the creation of both presentation slides and a deck does not mean that they are the same. 

However, most people will say that presentation slides and a deck are basically the same thing. 

In many ways, of course, they are very similar. You do use a “slide deck” during your presentation and, in the most basic sense, presentation slides and a deck are nearly the same.

However, in our humble opinion, it is worth drawing a line of distinction between the two.

The Differences Between Presentation Slides and a Deck

First off, presentation slides and a deck have very different end goals. 

If you are creating presentation slides, then you are (quite obviously) preparing materials that you will use as a visual aid during a presentation. Presentation slides should be visually stunning and minimalistic in their content. After all, if you are the one giving the presentation, you want all eyes on you, not your slides! 

If you are creating a deck, you very well may be creating a series of visual slides that are meant for someone to read on their own. This means that deck slides can be more information and can generally contain a lot more content. Since a deck is meant as something that should be read, you can utilize the format to communicate a lot of information quickly. 

Second, presentation slides are relatively fast to make whereas a deck may be significantly time consuming.

Assuming that you have a general outline of your speech, putting together the supporting slides should be relatively easy. You already know the main points that you want to make and you just need some great looking and simple slides to support your talking points.

There are lots of design tools out there that can help you develop engaging and beautiful graphics. If you are creating presentation slides, the best bet is to find some great looking, royalty free images on a website like Unsplash.

Creating all the content for a deck that is meant to be read can take a lot longer. The reason being that you need to be able to convey all the important information to a reader without the benefit of being able to fill in gaps with a voiceover.

Typically, this means that you will have to spend a bit more time creating the content. You have to be sure to triple check your grammar, all data points, and references. 

Finally, presentation slides are truly a one way street: they are meant to be presented and consumed in a very particular order. As the presentation creator, you will have an agenda and a series of slides that follow the main topics of the presentation. It would be very unnatural for you to hop around randomly throughout the presentation because you would lose the attention of your audience.

A deck will enable a reader to hop to any section that they like, which means it is more important to appropriately label everything in your content. You want to construct your report in a way where your reader can easily navigate through different parts of your deck, in whatever way makes the most sense for them. 

Conclusion

While they are very similar, and in many cases, built with the same tools, presentation slides and a deck can indeed be very different. We recommend thinking clearly about your use case and then building the appropriate content from there.

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