Tag Archives: Duarte

Want to create an original design? Create a “design decisions” slide.

Slide-full presentations have become a ubiquitous standard in most major fields–scientists, educators, CEOs, and military personnel are expected to have a PowerPoint to accompany their verbal presentations. For most people, that means opening slide software, choosing a template, and in 30 minutes, creating what I call the bullet-riddled death machine. After countless meetings, workshops, and student presentations full of generic, forgettable, confusing, or pointless slides, I’ve begun tuning out most presentations with slides. The presentations with slides that I do pay attention to are those that are so subtly, cleanly, and minimally designed that they simply serve as visual support and enhancement for a presenter’s beautifully structured content and engaging delivery.

Note what I am saying here–your content and delivery matter more than your visual design, but if you do use visuals, your first concern must be design. As Nancy Duarte says, having great slides with poor content is like putting lipstick on a pig–it’s still a pig (Source)! A colleague walked by my desk while I was working on Ideate and loved the design, but said “but, how long did that take you?” It definitely took longer than choosing the craft template and transferring hundreds of pages worth of content onto slides, but like anything else, the time one puts into something reflects how others will perceive the finished product.

So, what do we do? We have to have slides (another colleague is in danger of losing his job because he doesn’t use PowerPoint, Prezi, or other slide software in the classroom), but more importantly, we have to begin creating slides that serve as visual support, are worth displaying, and that are uniquely aligned with our topics. The answer is of course design, but design doesn’t necessarily have to take hundreds of hours of work. Great design is simple, and simplicity starts by creating your “design box” for a project via a design decisions slide. This slide, which one would hide before presenting, serves as a guide for the rest of the deck. Using a design decisions slide restricts the presenter to the elements needed to create a unified look while also being unrestricted enough to allow for variations.

How to Create a Design Decisions Slide

Before tackling a new project, begin with design. First, choose a black or white slideshow to start with a blank canvas. This will help you keep the focus on design.

Core Colors

The first step is to choose two to three core colors (any more than this can create discord or disconnect for beginning designers). With these two to three colors, a presenter can create a diverse yet connected palette. One can adapt the brightness, lightness, and saturation of these three colors to vary the color palette. Align the color palette with a discipline, mood, or industry. A great place to go for complimentary and mood-based palettes is Design-Seeds.com. Creating a new color palette is easy in both Keynote and PowerPoint due to the “color grabber” tool (pictured below).

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Typeface

Next, choose your typeface. One or two fonts working together can help you further emphasize unified design. It’s important though, that if you choose two fonts, you work to use them together consistently. If choosing one font (which is in my opinion even better), choose a font with multiple weights. Choosing a font like Josefinsans is an excellent beginner design strategy. Fonts like these come with multiple versions (light, italic, bold, semi-bold, etc.) or weights that can be used in different ways (to show emphasis, for instance). Using one font with multiple weights further emphasizes unified design.

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Supporting Shape/Imagery

Presentation design can take on many forms. Sometimes an image alone can communicate volumes; sometimes an image or well-aligned series of images paired with text can work better. According to the Picture Superiority Effect, words paired with images help us retain information far longer than text or image alone. Sometimes, though, an image is great, but helping that text gel with the image (especially when one is trying to use a full-bleed image) can be difficult. Using a shape on a visual can help that text more visible as well as reinforcing your design’s overall unity. You can also begin making decisions about the type of imagery you will use. Will you use pictures, icons, or a combination of these?

Here is my design decisions slide for Ideate:

Design elements; Network designed by Brennan Novak from The Noun Project, Brain designed by Linda Yuki Nakanishi from The Noun Project, Earth by  NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Design elements; Network designed by Brennan Novak from The Noun Project, Brain designed by Linda Yuki Nakanishi from The Noun Project, Earth by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

These are the rules for creating a design slide for a presentation. What about for a slidedoc, the new brand of design introduced by Nancy Duarte’s firm a few weeks ago? Well, according to Duarte, a slidedoc needs the same kind of visual support that a presentation does–consistently treated imagery, colors, and a typeface set. However, a slidedoc, because it is meant to be read can be more diverse. Instead of one typeface, a slidedoc can feature multiple typefaces for heads, content, and highlighted text; a slidedoc can also include five colors with two additional neutral colors (grey, black). Finally, a slidedoc needs a system of images, icons, and shapes.

Here is my design decisions slide for my first slidedoc, “An Introduction to the New PCP.” I chose five colors plus two neutrals (as I tell my students, I’ve done this enough to move beyond basic visual design and they can too with time!), two fonts, Josefinsans and Josefinslab, and as this is a slidedoc, I’ll be using a combination of shapes, icons, and imagery to create emphasis.

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Body of Work: Spring Projects

March marks the beginning of the creative leg of this year’s Body of Work development. I am working on creating assignments for the reboot of Professional Communication and Presentation online, designing the course calendar, and planning lessons. The launch is in April and I cannot wait!

In addition, I am working on a new deck that will debut in March. The subject of this deck is content development and is based on my content development series from 2013. Below is a preview of the deck. I am working on blending photography and iconography, and trying to find a balance between the two has been particularly rewarding. Creating consistency and unity when using two types of visual support can be a challenge, but using iconography from the Noun Project has helped me better represent ideas for which I cannot find photographs. I’ve also been creating my own icons for this project and drawing out ideas for icons I cannot find and must create.

Design elements; Network designed by Brennan Novak from The Noun Project, Brain designed by Linda Yuki Nakanishi from The Noun Project, Earth by  NASA Goddard Photo and Video

Design elements; Network designed by Brennan Novak from The Noun Project, Brain designed by Linda Yuki Nakanishi from The Noun Project, Earth by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

In choosing a color scheme, I wanted to blend the calm productivity and creativity-generating blue with some vibrancy and positivity. To achieve that, I chose both orange and yellow-toned gold as my contrast color. Gold also represents wisdom and knowledge and the sharing of these ideas with others. In choosing typefaces for the project, I’d initially used District Pro Thin by Garage Fonts alone. But, since this is the only weight of that font available for use  and it’s important for me to create some type contrast, I am balancing out the lightness and sleekness of District Pro Thin with Intro by FontFabric. I love the geometric simplicity and impact of this typeface. It looks particularly good with a small bit of text and a large image behind.

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This is the current title slide; I’d love to keep working to find something with even more visual pop

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This is my favorite slide so far. I am using it to represent that one idea that is a game changer in the creative process, the idea that can change the world.

Finally, in April, I plan on creating my first “slidedoc” using Nancy Duarte’s new infoproduct, Slidedocs. I created a course structure document to inform others of the changes PCP is undergoing. However, the document is extremely text-heavy and dense. Most readers are unsure what to look at first, which is of course not what I am going for. So, I am going to use the principles learned in Slidedocs to recreate the document in Keynote. I will then use this document to train instructors on how to teach the new PCP.

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Another Great and FREE Resource by Duarte Design

In late 2013, Nancy Duarte, fairy godmother of presentation development and design, released a free HTML 5 version of her landmark text, Resonate. I instantly fell in love with this version of her book, which took the print version to a new level of interaction and connectivity. This entirely free version of the book contains behind the scenes tidbits, interactive exercises, videos, and guides to important concepts like Duarte’s Sparkline. This week, Duarte Design released Slidedocs: Spread Ideas with Effective Visual Documents, a free guide to creating what Duarte believes to be a necessary common ground between the density of long-form reports and a live, immersive, cinematic presentation of information. What do you do when you want your audience to preview data and information before a big presentation? What about after a presentation when someone asks for your presentation? What about when you aren’t able to conduct a live presentation at all? The only answer is no longer a lengthy, text-heavy report. Instead, Duarte takes the concept of a “slideument” (coined by Garr Reynolds in Presentation Zen) and actually turns it into a positive–the beautiful blend of text, image, layout, and thorough content development, the “slidedoc.” Check out the interactive and again FREE guide to creating slidedocs below or visit duarte.com/slidedocs. This guide will come in handy as we rework the PCP course. I’ve already seen how presenting information via text-only in proposing the class to others has led to confusion instead of clarification. Thinking of the instruction sheets and other course information we provide to students as slidedocs will help us ensure students not only study their course materials carefully but are engaged and interested while doing so!

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What makes a STAR moment shine?

Your audience should always leave your presentation with something they’ll always remember. But, what does it actually take to create a memorable STAR moment?

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In her landmark text on developing persuasive and engaging content, Resonate, Nancy Duarte devotes an entire chapter to what she calls STAR moments, those moments in a presentation when an audience truly achieves shared meaning with a presenter. According to Duarte, a STAR moment should “dramatically drive the big idea home” (Source), and it should be a “significant, sincere, and enlightening” (Source) moment that imprints the audience so much so that they spread and share the big idea long after the presentation ends. In teaching this particular presentation strategy, I’ve found that one can codify and define the types of actions that serve as STAR moments: memorable dramatizations, like Bill Gates releasing mosquitos on a TED conference audience; emotive storytelling, like Jill Bolte Taylor’s dynamic recreation of her massive brain stroke; evocative visuals, like Lisa Kristine’s hauntingly beautiful images of a few of the 28 million people enslaved throughout the world; repeatable sound bites like Martin Luther King, Jr.s “I have a dream…”; and shocking statistics, like Michael Pollan’s revelation that 28 oz of crude oil go into making each and every one of those quarter pounders with cheese sold at McDonalds every day. But, I’ve also learned that one can define a set of qualities that all of these strategies embody.

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So, these are excellent examples of types of STAR moments, but what makes a STAR moment actually memorable? What is it about what these and other great speakers do that leads to that mental hook in the audience? A former student, Elianna Bentz, led a class discussion several months ago that really helped put the qualities of a strong STAR moment into an easily digestible format. A STAR Moment should be Simple, Transferable, Audience-centered, Repeatable, and Meaningful.

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Simple

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The job of the STAR moment is often to take a very complicated problem and break it down to its simplest, most human, most transparent form. Chip and Dan Heath believe simplicity starts by removing superfluous elements and getting to the core of an idea. They compare it to the way a journalist writes an article–the lead comes first, and is not buried by complexities (Source). In the same way, a STAR moment has to be straightforward and evocative. Take for example Benjamin Zander’s STAR moment in the TED talk below. To help the audience understand the technicality of music, he demoes what piano playing is like at different ages and breaks down a prelude by Chopin note by note. But, to help the audience understand just how impacting classical music can be, before he plays the piece a second time, he asks the audience to imagine a lost loved one. The first time I did this, I was in tears. I’ve watched the speech now each month for four years and its impact is never the same unless I succumb to Zander’s request.

Transferable

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A STAR moment cannot exist in the vacuum of the speaker’s own mind and heart; it’s emotional impact has to be transferred to the audience so that they can internalize it. According to Duarte, a STAR moment is “rehearsed and planned to have just the right amount of analytical and emotional appeal to engage both the minds and hearts of an audience” (Source). Bill Gates’ 2009 TED talk contains such a moment. After establishing the problem–malaria is a worldwide problem (200 million are affected), but because the people affected do not have the wealth and resources to stop the problem, not enough is being done. To transfer the impact of this problem to a room full of TEDsters, wealthy folks who cannot necessarily relate to or understand the problem, he releases mosquitos into the audience, stating “there’s no reason only poor people should have the experience” (Source). Brilliant transference!

Audience-centered

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A great STAR moment requires audience-analysis and audience adaptation.Why? Because without audience analysis and adaptation, how can a speaker truly know what will impact his or her target audience, what will push through the wall of bias and resistance present in each audience member, what will be easily understood by the audience? The last day of Professional Communication and Presentation is Ignite presentation day. Two days ago, I witnessed one of the strongest STAR moments. Shayna wanted to communicate to her classmates that while they are all a product of the environments they came from, such a truth does not necessarily mean one has to be a slave to that idea or to what one learned as a result of one’s upbringing. She began her presentation by describing what it means to be a slave; she wore chains around her arms while she described this concept. For the next two minutes of her presentation she established her big idea, used storytelling, statistics, facts, and examples to support her big idea. She then told the story of having lost friends and family to drug abuse and how these experiences led her to act, to break her chains. She then threw the chains wrapped around her arms down. The reaction from her classmates was audible–the air literally went out of the room. By the end of her presentation, she had her audience in tears, fired up and ready to take control of their destinies.

Repeatable and Meaningful

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Finally, a STAR moment (if it embodies the first three qualities) must be easily repeatable/describable and also meaningful enough that the audience must repeat it. According to Duarte, “a carefully crafted sound bite can work as a STAR moment–not only for those who attend your presentation, but also for those who encounter it second hand” (Source). One of the most beautiful, repeatable, and meaningful STAR moments of our time is the repetition in Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream.” Dr. King, who spoke this portion of the speech extemporaneously and without a pre-written set of points (Clarence Jones describes the moment when King pushed his speech aside and spoke from the heart in this NPR interview). What made it repeatable was the simplicity of the phrase; what made it meaningful is that he was vocalizing America’s collective dream of the future. In order to help the audience visualize a positive future, motivate them to action, inspire their waning spirits, and tie the dream of desegregation to the long line of America’s dream, King repeats the phrase and follows it with what Nancy Duarte calls “new bliss,” a visualization of the world with his idea in place. This phrase has become part of our cultural consciousness in the United States and it helped reinvigorate the hearts and minds of King’s followers.

So, by choosing a type of STAR moment and then ensuring it meets the qualities above, you too can create a moment that shines on long after you say “Thank you for your time. Any questions?”

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Links of the Day: One superteacher’s story and pitch decks

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It has certainly been a while, readers! I can admit, I’ve been sucked into some professional and personal adjustments/changes that have created a mountain of excuses and pushed blogging further down on the list, but I realized today, hey, you know what I DO have time to blog. No excuse! So, today, I bring you two excellent links. The first comes from a current student who is preparing his first discussion in this month’s Professional Communication and Presentation class. The student’s task is to analyze a TED talk’s content. One question asks students to look at what research the speaker uses or cites. The student had a very relevant and valid question. What if your TED talk doesn’t really reference research? In class, we discuss the importance of creating a balance between fact and emotion. This balance, according to Nancy Duarte, is “alluring”, but imbalance can hurt a speaker’s credibility (Source).

He then shared Pearl Arredondo’s inspiring TED Education talk with me. Arredondo grew up the daughter of a gang member and was written off by many teachers as a problem student. Years later, she became a teacher herself and realized that fighting the battle to improve education wouldn’t happen unless she and her community took education into their own hands. She started a middle school devoted to empowering students to excel as technology and thought leaders in the 21st century. Arredondo’s talk is inspiring as a teacher who believes it’s up to us to reform education from the ground up. It’s also a wonderful example of a presentation that uses storytelling structure to communicate a persuasive message. It also manages to remain alluring in it’s balance of emotion and fact, using the story of one student turned teacher to put this situation into the bigger context of educational reform. Check out the talk below:

The second link of the day comes from Script Magazine by way of super writing center coordinator, Nicole Chapman. Nicole is currently pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and shares this excellent article on the importance of a clean and well-designed set of visuals to accompany a pitch aka a pitch deck. Author Martin Shapiro believes scriptwriters can take a cue from start ups pitching to a vc. In addition to being “able to talk intelligibly about the business aspects of movie marketing and distribution”, scriptwriters should be able to create a set of slides to accompany the story/tone/approach of the script. Click on the sample slide from Shapiro’s pitch for a film adaptation of the series Chopper:

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TED Conference 2013: #illustaTED

I am stoked to spend today continuing the PCP reboot with some video editing, audio recording, and deck creation. I’ll also be spending my day following the progress of TED 2013. As I cannot afford to attend, I’ll be living vicariously through some of my favorite folks. One trend I’ll be following on Twitter is #illustraTED from Duarte design. This year, the Duarte team will be illustrating inspiring and amazing talks the whole week long! Check out @duarte and @nancyduarte on Twitter and enjoy this unique take on the TED experience. For more on this year’s conference, visit the TED blog!

I am nerding out to the max over the incredible blend of voices featured this year. I am also excited to see young inventor Richard Turine‘s talk. I’ll leave you with a fresh talk from Bruce Feiler, who believes agile programming can help grow a stronger family.

Which TED talks are you looking forward to most?

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Workaholic Update

So, the past few months have been rather insane but amazing. I am gearing up for an Skype chat with Nancy Duarte, and my superteacher partner and I have revamped the entire online version of our course to transition from Duarte’s slide:ology to her second book, Resonate. Now that the online class is finally coming together, I can devote enough attention to revamping the entire on campus class around the Presentation Ecosystem. I am also working on an article for Six Minutes on the acronym C.R.A.P. (Contrast Repetition, Alignment, Proximity). Another project I’ve been working on for months is a new banner for my blog. I’ve scoured and tested a number of JD Hancock images and am ready to beg/pay him to allow me to use Gold from his metal men series.  In the meantime, I am working on a few more visual ideas and revisiting my “Your Speech is Toxic” deck. I am looking forward to a productive August!

Just a little something I cooked up…

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A Deck to Admire as I Climb Mount Grade

March has been one of my busiest teaching months. 70 students all submitting major projects for which I record video feedback and thousands of words in discussion posts have definitely kept my focus away from the blog, I am sure to my own detriment. But, I can already see the summit of Mount Grade, and with only 40 students this month, I will be able to devote much more time to further explorations into design and public speaking. I am working on a new deck on visual resumes to debut at our annual spring break faculty development week, and I am stoked to share it very soon. In the meantime, as I graded discussions whose focus is to analyze a slide deck on slideshare that illustrates Nancy Duarte’s principles of design and her new slide ideology, I ran into this gem by Forsythe Technology.

Mobile Devices in the Workplace: 5 Key Security Risks is not only chock full of practical information, illustrating Duarte’s thesis #2: Spread Ideas and Move People, but it also Practices Design and not Decoration; it provides clean and easily identifiable visuals, clearly following the Help them See What You are Saying rule. Finally it’s use of storytelling appeals to a universal audience, and focuses on audience needs–Treating the Audience as King and Cultivating a Healthy Relationship.

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