Design your slides

We offer you the following insights courtesy of a great book called “slide:ology” by Nancy Duarte (2008, O’Reilly Media). Duarte Design created the presentation for Al Gore’s Oscar-winning film, An Inconvenient Truth. This extract is from Chapter 12 and offers a five-point manifesto: 1. Treat your audience as king: they didn’t come to your presentation to see you. They came to find out what you can do for them. Success means giving them a reason for taking their time, providing content that resonates, and ensuring it’s clear what they are to do. 2. Spread ideas and move people: …communicate your ideas with strong visual grammar to engage all their senses and they will adopt these ideas as their own. 3. Help them see what you are saying: …guide your audience through ideas in a way that helps, not hinders, their comprehension. Appeal not only to their verbal senses but to their visual senses as well. 4. Practise design not decoration: don’t just make pretty talking points. Instead display information in a way that makes complex information clear. Display information in the best way possible fro comprehension rather than focusing on what you need as a visual crutch. Content carriers connect with...

Refresh slide basics

  “To succeed as a presenter, you must think like a designer. Every decision a designer makes is intentional. Reason and logic underpin the placement of the visual elements.” Nancy Duarte   The watchwords for great slides are readability, simplicity, consistency and across the whole presentation – variety! Limit yourself to one main message or visual idea per slide and support with relevant facts and arguments. Use concise language and do not overload the slide with words – less is definitely more. Put the main message into the headline using about 7 to 9 words maximum. A sub-heading can expand on and add extra meaning to the heading. When you have no option but to use text, aim for a maximum of 4 to 5 bullet points. Use a font size that is READABLE: 24—28 points for the bullets, 38—44 points for the headline. Sans-serif fonts like Arial work best in presentations and bold text has more impact. A visual solution (tables, photographs, clipart) is right when it SUPPORTS your main message and does not distract from it. Take that photographs are light enough and have a high enough resolution when projected. Use corporate design templates when available and apply a cohesive graphic style throughout the presentation e.g. ClipArt in homogeneous drawing styles, font style and heights… Label all graphic elements that are not 100% self-explanatory. Use colour wisely (limit to three or four) and colour code (headlines, bullets etc.). Check out how it looks on the screen and not just on your PC. Keep animation and transition effects simple: e.g. wipe text from left in the reading direction,...

Match the visuals to the message

“Objects in pictures should so be arranged as by their very position to tell their own story.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe In our tip, Prepare your story first, we outlined the four key elements needed in your early presentation preparation. Here we offer you an example of how this could work in practice by using a sample marketing presentation made by a product manager to the senior departmental management team.In the diagram above,  each column represents a stage of preparation BEFORE the slides are produced. In (1), an structure with defined blocks is outlined – this one works very well for a presentation that needs to get approval from an audience of decision-makers. In (2), the links that hold the story together are shown and in (3), the story is told in brief. Finally, in (4) some possible options for visual ideas are listed – before firing up PowerPoint and staring to produce the slides. Make use of these steps yourself for your own structure and...

Prepare your story first

“If you’ve heard this story before, don’t stop me, because I’d like to hear it again.” Groucho Marx Groucho Marx may have been a famously funny person but his technique would not do you any favours in a presentation. The most common mistake presenters make is to tell the story because it is interesting for them and they quite forget to make it relevant and interesting for the audience. In our view, there are four key elements to incorporate into your early presentation planning to make sure your story ultimately resonates thoroughly with the audience.   1. Analyse the target audience Ask yourself, “Who are they?” and look at demographics, job titles, age, expertise etc. Ask yourself, “What motivates them?” and think about their needs and expectations. Ask yourself, “Which questions will they want to have answered in relation to the topic?” and decide which answers must be incorporated into the presentation. 2. Know what you want to achieve What do you want your audience to do, say, think or feel afterwards as a result of your presentation? If you could only have ONE key message for presentation and that the audience should remember, what would that be? What else does the audience need to know from you in order for the key message to make sense to them? 3. Write the story in brief Choose a structure that works well in conjunction with the topic and goal (i.e. are you informing, convincing, recommending etc…) Give labels to the various blocks of the structure (i.e. situation, problem, solution, benefits), matching them up the blocks with the questions you think...

Communicating “with heart”

During a briefing session with a client last week to prepare for a presentation training programme for his team, I asked the question, “What should the participants be able to do (or do better) after the training, that they cannot currently do?” His answer was that they should be better speakers and presenters, able to get their message across and able to do it with heart. I probed a little so that we could set some specific goals – especially about what he meant by “with heart”. It became clear that he knew exactly what he meant but found it difficult to find words that precisely expressed what he had in mind. A few adjectives were used such as “lively” and also the phrase “speak directly to the listeners”.  Having reflected now for a few days, I think what he really means is “be able to connect”, not just at a content level but more importantly at the relationship level. Both are important in communication. Truly connecting is best achieved by being authentic and having the courage to open yourself up. It means “letting go of who you think you should be to be who you are”.  This quote comes from a very inspiring (and funny talk) by Brené Brown, to be found at TED Talks. I encourage you to watch – especially if the ability to make the connection and communicate “with heart” has so far eluded...