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Posted: March 20, 2014

Chef Laura: Avoid the Krispy Kreme effect

Why two decks are better than one

Laura Cook Newman

We’ve all heard of “Death by PowerPoint” – a live presentation focused on a lengthy deck with slide after slide of facts, data, charts, numbers, and words.  This elicits what I call “The Krispy Kreme Effect”; you end up with an audience that is completely glazed over.

Then the poor chump who created this labor of love proceeds to address the screen and read it verbatim.  The captive audience grimaces through the presentation while their minds drift to more important things.  “Did I feed the cat this morning?  How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?  What rhymes with ‘orange’?”

The speaker concludes “Any questions?” waits one nanosecond, mumbles “Thank you” and sits down to a smattering of sympathy claps.

It’s not really his fault.  After tireless hours of research, he probably made a kick ass deck chock full of pertinent information.  But he did not make a kick ass presentation.  The two should go hand in hand, right? 


I think of PowerPoint decks like the two types of food cooked in a restaurant:

  1. The Staff Meal – A filling meal prepared for the servers, cooks, and dishwashers.  Also known as “clean out the walk-in meal”.  It may not look too pretty, but it usually tastes good and fulfills its role as strictly nourishment.
  2. The Menu Offering – A thoughtfully prepared dish made with the finest ingredients intended for paying customers.  It delivers the wow factor and is served to a chorus of “oohs!” and “ahhs!”

Staff Meals are never served to paying customers, and Menu Offerings are hardly ever given away to the staff gratis.

The same is true of PowerPoint decks.  They should have different audiences and different intentions, although ultimately they are both helping feed the crowd’s mind.

What’s the solution?  Make two decks. 

Deck #1 – Pack it full of all the necessary information.  This is your “textbook” of sorts.  Email it to all your peeps that need this document as a reference tool.  They can view it at their leisure in their cubicles and digest all the hearty knowledge.

Deck #2 – As the presenter, you are Gladys Knight.  These slides behind you are the Pips.  Every once in a while, your presentation needs a well-placed “Woo-Woo!” and that’s where this deck comes in.  They are less than Cliffs Notes (those should be in your head).  These are the pops of visuals that deliver the razzle dazzle.

Since 83 percent of us learn through sight where as only 10 percent of folks retain the information they read (or less, if it’s read to them), it’s time – once and for all – to end Death by PowerPoint. Who’s with me?

If you disagree and insist on subjecting your peers to Deck #1 during a live presentation, at least have the good sense to bring a box of donuts.  The audience still won’t learn anything, but it will probably suppress their desire to hitch the next train to Georgia.

Laura Cook Newman is a professional Chef and Training Manager for a Fortune 500 food manufacturer. She earned her chops at Johnson & Wales University, has an MBA in Marketing and hosts a blog for behind-the-scenes insights on the food service industry. Contact her at

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Readers Respond

Nice article. I recall hearing that the US Army stopped using Powerpoint years ago. I went back today and looked at a Wordpress site named It still exists, but is a little kinder to MS PowerPoint than it was a few years back. It may be only independent restaurants offer staff meals. Eaten together, they can be a great way for bonding the front and back of the house. I worked at one restaurant where most of the employees preferred the staff meal to the new American cuisine on the menu! By Greg Wright on 2014 03 21
United we shall stand against lackluster presentations! Woo-Woo! As for Staff Meals, they do exist. They are not always customary, but nice restaurants (and companies in general) who value their employees give them some perks. Hungry employees are cranky employees. It's also better they eat a big bowl of cheap pasta then sneak 10 slices of bacon during their shift. By Chef Laura on 2014 03 20
it's important to keep your audience engaged... candy and champagne seem to work very well. wink By Ta Tee on 2014 03 20
Ever read any of Edwin Tufte's books? Great stuff. His courses are good too, but he likes himself a lot. By you sound like S. Jobs on 2014 03 20
I've never worked at a restaurant that provided the staff a meal like you described. Closest to it was the menu offering at 50% off. Is a staff meal a real thing? By What the heck on 2014 03 20
Agreed! This PPT stuff has got to stop. When you give them advance presentations, you'd think they'd be better engaged. No, instead they sit there with their laptops, texting and e-mailing, etc. all the while knowing if they need your info they've already got it. I think the box of donuts is a great idea. The pizza handout at the Oscars seemed to re-energize the audience! By Minerva on 2014 03 20
Richard Pryor had a show in the 70s featuring "And the Pips" - no Gladys, just "The Pips" They had some great Woo Woos during Midnight Train to Georgia.;_ylt=Atag8RKJKg6wZ1PecRC0V9ibvZx4?p=richard+pryor+and+the+pips&toggle=1&cop=mss&ei=UTF-8&fr=yfp-t-901 By Evan Cook on 2014 03 20
So true and I wish I could forward this article on to my clients. While preparing for a presentation to a large financial institution I was asked to send my presentation in advance. My ppt deck was much more like example #2 and I was told it did not have enough information. While trying to explan that these were just talking points to go along with the presentation I was then told that all presentations are filed for future reference. So I ended up having to make two presentations. The rest of the presentations that day all looked like excerpts from novels. Death by PowerPoint! By myvision7 on 2014 03 20
Thank you for this article. I'm forwarding it to my team. PPT is a great tool if used correctly, but seldom people do. By Jenny on 2014 03 20
There is a certain person who comes to mind when you mentioned Deck #1. A good reminder for all of us: Don't be that guy. By Ted on 2014 03 20
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