Build your presentation design muscle

You’ve studied presentation design, created beautiful new presentations, and learned the ins and outs of your presentation software. What’s next? How do you grow and exercise those new design skills?

Revising a Bulleted List

One great way to do this is to revise older versions of decks you’ve abandoned for the cinematic approach to presentation design. I have several hundred presentations and versions of presentations scattered throughout two hardrives and cyberspace. I could dump these old versions or engage in nostalgic  “remember when I used the ‘dancing delivery boy’ animated gif in my presentation delivery lesson?” sessions. Instead, I like to try out new techniques, typefaces, images, and design styles and continue building on the foundational principles of design by revising these decks. Revising slidedecks full of template-driven lists of bullets, clip art, and frenetic animation takes attention to just a few basic design ideas:

  1. Less is More (From Presentation Zen Design)
  2. One Idea per Slide (From Slide:ology)
  3. Picture Superiority (From Brain Rules)

Let’s take this slide for example:

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By remembering that an extra slide costs nothing, that less clutter actually means more design work, and that each slide can convey one simple idea best when paired with an image, you can expand one slide of bullets into several well designed aspects of one visual story. Here is a simple process to follow (process adapted from Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology):

1. Examine your original slide and remove the clip art–no one connects to cheesy clip art. Highlight the key idea in each slide. This key idea will be the basis for each of the rest of your slide.

Choosing what is or isn't important in a sentence isn't easy. Ask yourself, what word can describe the subject of the sentence? This answer is your starting point to shortening your bullet.

Choosing what is or isn’t important in a sentence isn’t easy. Ask yourself, what word can describe the subject of the sentence? This answer is your starting point to shortening your bullet.

2. Design a slide for each bullet/highlighted pair. In this example, I’ve chosen to amplify the farmer’s market theme by using three typefaces I purchased from the Lost Type Co-Op, Ribbon by Dan Gneiding, Edmond Sans by James T. Edmondson, and Highlands by Tyler Galpin. I chose 4 core colors and chose imagery that I could adapt to the color scheme and theme. See the finished product below.

The title slide for this revision presentation sets the tone for the rest of the deck.

The title slide for this revision presentation sets the tone for the rest of the deck.

In order for the new deck to make sense, the second bullet should actually become the introduction in the revision.

In order for the new deck to make sense, the second bullet should actually become the introduction in the revision.

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The previous example is one I created for class. However, I want to share with you an example of a slide from one of my previous decks on Universal Constructivism to show you that theory can truly be put into practice:

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Try revising one or more of your bullet-driven slides to build up your presentation “guns.” And remember….

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One thought on “Build your presentation design muscle

  1. […] If you have multiple images that communicate the same main idea, arrange those images using a grid.  Remember to arrange images in a clean, seamless fashion… Do not stack images on top of one another.  Think about your slide as a puzzle where all the pieces must fit together neatly.  In Keynote, using the “Shapes” tool can help you with this task.  Chiara Ojeda shows you how to arrange multiple images on one slide in a clean, simple way in “…. […]

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