Tag Archives: slide design

Slidesharer to Follow: Orsolya Nemes

This week’s Slidesharer to Follow is one of my favorite presentation all-starts, Orsolya Nemes. Orsolya first reached out to me several years ago as she was beginning her own journey as a professional presenter. She followed up that reach out by creating several excellent slideshares, which have been featured as “Top Presentation of the Day,” and a TEDxYouthBudapest talk based on her debut deck, “Generation Y.” Orsolya, who runs her own consulting agency, “Y Consulting,” shared the story of how effective presenting helped her communicate the Generation Y perspective in front of a group of young TEDsters. Check out her TEDx talk below as well as my favorite Orsolya deck. Check out all of her work here.

 

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Design Smarter: Find the best blend for text and image

The picture superiority effect occurs when you combine visuals and text together to increase audience retention of your message. The picture superiority effect is what allows you to create one of Nancy Duarte’s STAR Moments, evocative visuals. Not every visual needs to utilize text; Lisa Kristine in her amazing TED talk uses no text on her images; using text over her haunting and beautiful images of human slaves would have diminished their impact. However, text, especially in stand-alone presentations can help enhance a slide, communicate a more impacting message, and add to that cohesive look we want from original slide decks.

There are a few ways to blend text and image together on a slide. What you do depends on what you want to accomplish, the nature of your image and the amount of text on your slide. Your choice depends on what your main focus is in displaying the word with the image. Are they equally important? Is one more important than another? Here are a few variations to get you started.Below, I’ll cover a few of the more common combinations I see from designers and students. There are several ways to combine a bit of text with an image. Here are a few variations to get you started.

One idea, one image with empty space

One way to combine an image with an idea is to look for an image that has empty space. Often, images that employ the rule of thirds  include enough space for text. You know there’s enough space when there is little to no overlap between image and text. In this example, the original image by Flickr user Photoco. was licensed for commercial use with adaptations or remixes allowed. I was able to fill the slide with the image (which was large enough to display without pixelation) and use the empty space to the left of the figure to add my idea.

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One idea, one image without empty space

In other situations, you might have a fairly busy image you’d like to use on your slide; there is no one specific detail in the image that is more important than another that must be visible as in the example above. So, you can use a few strategies to blend image and text. The first is to adjust the brightness and exposure of the original image and place one large word over the picture (fig. a); note that this works well with a typeface like Intro, but might not work well with a typeface that has a thinner weight. In the first two examples (fig. a, fig. b), I adjusted the brightness and exposure of the image. In the next, I added a shadow to differentiate the text from the background (fig. c). In the final example, I adjusted the opacity of the text (this sometimes improves readability) (fig. d). Notice that the color changes depending on the option.

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After tweaking colors, shadows, and image settings, I chose this variation:

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Now, let’s assume you want to use a font with a thinner weight, like District Pro. Notice that without a bit of help, the text here is difficult to read. This is where a supporting shape comes in. Placing a shape behind the text (as long as it doesn’t make an important element on the image impossible to see) can be an option when blending text and image. In the example below, I’ve used several shapes to emphasize the text.

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One quote, one image with empty space

So, what if you want to place a quote or a lengthier idea (keep words to a minimum on a slide; 5-8 words is enough) on a slide with an image? Your first and best bet is to seek out an image with empty space, like the one above. Using an image with empty space and a readable typeface will help you maximize the impact of the quote by providing simple, clean visual support.

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One quote, one image without empty space a quote

At times, it’s possible to place a quote on a slide that has is busier–again, as long as the quote does not interfere with important parts of the image. However, this is the option I would advise the least. Placing a quote on a slide with a busy image will increase your chances of creating noise and it could minimize signal. In the case below, the quote on the slide combined with the image creates noise.

 

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The solution here is to rearrange the image to fit the frame (fig. e), find an image that allows the blend to happen naturally (fig. f), or allow the quote to stand alone.

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These are only a few of the many ways to blend text and image together.Whatever your choice, it’s important to consider these three best practices when pairing text and image:

1. The picture superiority effect is maximized when text and image are blended.

2. Create the most seamless blend possible.

3. Keep signal high and noise low.

What are your go to strategies for maximizing the picture superiority effect?

 

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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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My Year on Slideshare

So, my readers know I love Slideshare.net; my students now have two assignments they must share with others on what’s becoming THE place to share and spread deck and infographic-based content. But, you might have also noticed I’ve been quite silent on Slideshare lately. I produced on average one new deck per month in 2012; that’s fallen to only four decks and three infographics for all of 2013. I admit, some of this has been work with my courses and my baby, the Liberal Studies department Round Table (which is being rebranded as the Liberal Studies Brown Bag Extravaganza for 2014), but a lot of it has come from a serious lack of inspiration to ideate. I’m working on my first upload of 2014, based on my content development series, as well as the next infographic, analyzing Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” as well as one more deck on creating infographics as a teaching tool, but apart from developing my teaching portfolio, I haven’t found my way to the level of design-awesomeness I saw myself create in decks like “Your Speech is Toxic” or “Simple Design.” However, I happened to click on a link on my Slideshare homepage touting that my content was among the top 1% most viewed on Slideshare in 2013 and it got me thinking–I need to get back in the game! So, it’s on 2014. Time to step it up, put my design glasses back on and iterate, iterate, iterate!

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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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SIMPLE Design: Make Unity a Priority

I am fortunate enough to work for a school that provides teachers with some pretty neat tools for instructional design and student interaction. I teach an on campus iteration of Professional Communication and Presentation (PCP) six times per year. In addition, I also teach one to three sections of the online version of PCP. While I work on both the online and campus classes, in the past six to nine months, the PCP team has been tweaking and retweaking the online course. Teaching public speaking and presentation online is often the pits! How does one create the level of engagement and immersion needed to really help a student internalize weeks worth of material in only 60 hours, or 4 weeks? Well, in some cases, the answer is still forthcoming, but thankfully, I am able to at least engage with my students directly each week through our GoTo Trainings. If you aren’t familiar with Citrix’s GoTo Meeting, it’s becoming the industry leader for synchronous remote meetings, and it’s exclusively used by my school for internal meetings, workshops, and virtual classroom meetings/lectures. The service isn’t perfect and its inability to handle my media rich video archives has caused me to get creative with distributing the session to those who cannot attend it live, but the chance to interact with students and to clarify assignments, lessons, and intentions is invaluable to myself and other online educators. In PCP, I am responsible for holding the GoTo sessions for weeks 3 and 4. Week 3 covers the delivery “leg” of the presentation stool: what REAL Delivery means, how some of the more important aspects of that model fit into an online structure, some best practices for how to rehearse for the students’ upcoming Ignite presentation, and an open Q & A.

In preparation for this one-hour session, I have to adapt the unity and structure of my already existing REAL Delivery deck to fit this structure (as opposed to the structure of a four-eight hour block of class). The exercise leads me to think about two important lessons related to 1. design and 2. organization. In this post, I’ll cover the first lesson:

SIMPLE Design: Make Unity a Priority

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Although this deck is a hybrid of my Conquering Presentation and REAL Delivery decks, AND the inclusion of a few class-specific elements, my goal in creating a visual aid to accompany this session is to use unity–the repetition of key elements like color, text, background, shape, and image style–to communicate how this piece of the students’ learning journey fits into the whole. For most of us, unity means choosing a pre-made template and adding elements.

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Templates are wonderful examples of how unity actually works (choose key elements, repeat and variate on a theme) and why unity is important (consistency helps reduce confusion and puts the focus on content and meaning, not visual fluff). Unfortunately, the limited number of templates, combined with our ingrained use of presentation software (open program, choose template) makes templates cliche, watered-down versions of unity.

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To make unity a priority, focus on taking the idea of a template (repetition) and making it your own. Instead of using someone else’s vision to communicate your concept in a way that is instantly forgettable, use repeated elements to create a unified theme that communicates your concept in an original way.

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Here are a few best practices for choosing two of those key repeated elements, type and color.

Typefaces:

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Focus on readability and consistency; your fancy font may be right in line with your topic and theme, but if your audience cannot read it, what’s the point? I cycled through several different choices for REAL Delivery, including my standby, Bebas Neue. I chose Utility all caps because I preferred the heavier weight and thickness when paired with Edmondsans. However, I found that not spacing my letters out somewhat (kerning) made readability a problem. So, when choosing a typeface, integrating it into your design and combining it with your other elements, remember the following:

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Finally, if you have the option of using a font or typeface beyond what is already included in your software, a great place to start is FontSquirrel:

Font Squirrel is one of my favorite sources for commercially-available typefaces and fonts. Their selections are high-quality, carefully selected, and lovely!

Font Squirrel is one of my favorite sources for commercially-available typefaces and fonts. Their selections are high-quality, carefully selected, and lovely!

Color:

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A second important element to consider in creating your own unity or making unity a priority is color. Here are three useful tips on choosing color from Ethos 3’s Color Matters:

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One final tip is to use a great color generator, such as design-seeds, which Alex Rister recently discussed on Creating Communication. Here are two of my other favorite color generators/color tools:

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Check in tomorrow for the second lesson from my GoTo Training experience: Murdering Your Darlings. Next week, we will move on to the P in SIMPLE Design, Pictures are Superior!

Check out the rest of the SIMPLE Design series below:

SIMPLE Design: Why Simple Isn’t Easy

SIMPLE Design: Ideally, One Idea Per Slide

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Breaking Designer’s Block: Tweak Your Resume Update

It’s been a quiet few weeks on TYS, in no small part due to the new bane of my existence, the Tweak Your Resume deck. I will be debuting this deck on Slideshare next week, and it’s been quite the creative challenge. I am working on combining two slideshows, one on professionalism and another on some visual resume lessons from Slideshare decks and student decks. I am not sure if it is the combination of messages, the struggle I’ve had nailing down a theme that works, or my blending of photography and iconography, but this deck has given me some serious designer’s block! I’ve made my way out of it, but only after finally nailing down a strong cover image.

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I still have to eliminate the dreaded Venn Diagram (I have been banned by my superteacher partner in crime, Alex Rister from using it ever again), and I’m still working on a strong visualization for the 12 million folks unemployed in the US, but I am finally happy with the direction the deck is moving in and am excited to share it with readers and colleagues.

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My first version of the unemployment rate. I think it’s a bit weak and have a few more ideas I’m trying. What do you think?

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Simple Design: Ideally, One Idea Per Slide

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The SIMPLE design series covers my six principles for effective visual design. The first piece in this series covered the concept of simplicity in design, with a focus on a very basic truth–simple isn’t easy; it takes work. In this installment, I’ll cover the next letter in this acronym, “I,” which stands for…

Ideally, One Idea Per Slide

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Years of slideument conditioning has led all of us (including me as you’ll soon see) to see our slides as a document, something that is only really complete when filled with content (text, image, clip art, chart, random animated gif). This habit means that we’ve managed to keep our slides low in number, but high in noise (and conversely, low in signal).  According to Garr Reynolds, “[p]rojected slides should be as visual as possible and support our point quickly, efficiently (good signal-to-noise ratio), and powerfully. The verbal content, the verbal proof, evidence, and appeal/emotion comes mostly from our spoken word” (Source). So, in a live situation, it’s the presenter and not the slides who must carry the weight of the signal or content. Creating a content-heavy slide places the focus on the visual aid (in the worst way possible), can cause cognitive dissonance and confusion, and can damage a speaker’s credibility. As an educator, I felt the need to fill slides with as much content as possible, especially in courses I felt less than solid in or that required more lecture focus than composition and writing, particularly Latin American Humanities:

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What’s wrong with this slide? Well, even when I presented information by only showing one bullet at a time, my students first had no tangible concept to attach to ideas like “universal constructivism”, and second, as John Medina discusses in his must-read Brain Rules, the mind cannot multi-task, which is exactly what we ask audiences to do when we create slideuments. Our audience must read our slides AND listen to us, which they just cannot do. According to Medina, “[r]esearch shows your error rate goes up 50% and it takes you twice as long to do things” (Source) when the myth of multi-tasking is in play. Further, as Nancy Duarte asserts in Slide:ology, slides, like billboards are “glance media”, which means that your audience should be able to process your visual story quickly and then return to listening to your awesome content.

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The situation becomes even more complex when we are asked as presenters to provide our slides for publication or when we use our slides as study guides for our students. How do we keep our slides cinematic AND also communicate dense amounts of content? Reynolds has a few suggestions, including the most obvious and useful one–create a set of display slides and create a separate document with complete notes (Source). I find that doing this gives students the opportunity to use their critical thinking skills and decide what is really important or note worthy.  I want to share one of my most important design epiphanies that helped me find a good balance between content and design. Keeping this idea in mind has helped me move towards truly SIMPLE Design: An Extra Slide Costs Nothing!

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So, instead of placing every bit of information about Joaquin Torres-Garcia and Universal Constructivism on one slide, I can break the information up over many slides.

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Have you faced the challenge of creating cinematic slides that are also content-rich? What are your great ideas for moving away from the slideument? 

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Corporate vs. Conference: Jesse Dee’s You Suck at PowerPoint

Jesse Dee’s “You Suck at PowerPoint” is one of the most viewed presentations on Slideshare with over 1 million views.

In his presentation, Jesse lays down the five biggest mistakes PowerPoint users make and provides some fixes for these problems. Jesse Dee’s 5 mistakes are:

  1. Too much information, or what Garr Reynolds refers to as a slideument.
  2. Not enough visuals, or text-driven visuals decrease retention, not increase it.
  3. Horrible quality, or in a age of abundance and design, audiences no longer respond to clip art and comic sans.
  4. Visual vomit, or once you have visuals, you must design them for maximum effectiveness.
  5. Lack of prep, or the number one reason why users rely on bullets and templates is because of a lack of content development and rehearsal time.

Because of its popularity and in your face honesty about the misuse of PowerPoint by individuals and corporations alike, the presentation often faces a bit of resistance and backlash. Today, a response to Jesse Dee’s presentation was posted on Slideshare:

The presentation, by design firm Stinson Design, calls attention to several of Dee’s suggestions that Stinson Design believes just won’t work for corporate presenters. The deck makes a distinction between corporate and conference presenters based on the level of control one type of presenter has than another does not. Conference presenters, according to the deck “have control on their content and can decide to present minimal amounts of data” (Source). In contrast, corporate presenters are limited because they must present dense amounts of information and data. The distinction is unclear to me because as a conference attendee, I’ve seen conference presenters display dense amounts of information and data (unfortunately, mostly using bullet points and poorly designed data display), and as a presenter, I was restricted by time, audience type, and subject matter. As someone who has watched four years of “corporate” business pitches, I’ve also seen dense data and complex financial information be presented in a cinematic way that still shows the investor that the presenter is knowledgeable and able to communicate the complex using simplicity.

In the deck, several challenges corporate presenters face in using the cinematic method of presentation design are brought to light. However, instead of looking at these challenges as reasons to abandon the universal principles of design used by 21st century presenters, let’s look at some of these challenges as opportunities. In every instance, presenting well is a challenge; it’s all about being up to the challenge!

Challenge #1: Cutting content is not always possible because corporate presenters have A LOT  of information to communicate

Jesse Dee provides a reasonable solution for this. Use one slide for each piece of content, data, and information. Stinson believes that the amount of information that needs to be presented makes this solution impossible. However, as instructional designers and teachers have learned, the working memory is a finite container (Source). It’s working memory that we are addressing when presenting information to others, and that part of our minds can only retain so much information before information begins to flow over the top of that container and out of our minds. As Julie Dirksen points out, “You can keep handing material to your learners, but you can’t make them carry it around” (Source). So, we must focus as presenters on what’s really necessary; we must be ruthless editors and only include what’s necessary on a set of slides. Similarly, we must understand that slides are not always necessary. A few days ago, I shared this tongue in cheek example of a PowerPoint version of The Gettysburg Address. The idea Lincoln was communicating was complex, controversial, and challenging. He uses ingenuity, the brevity of words, and pathos to communicate this complex idea to his audience in a way that has resonated for hundreds of years.

But, this doesn’t mean that we are sacrificing information for design, not at all. Your audiences can easily (actually much more easily than on a slide) read through dense amounts of information on a document (and that document can be designed for maximum readability, flow, and retention) that you hand out as an accompaniment to your slides, which are not meant to be containers of your information, but an enhancement of your content. This is not a “luxury” as the deck claims. It is simply good old-fashioned troubleshooting. It also helps keep the presentation of content relevant to the audience. Despite what we tell ourselves, our audiences don’t want all of the information on a slide (even if they are conditioned to this). Subconsciously, the mind wants to be able to easily and clearly make sense of information. This is best accomplished by breaking up dense information into smaller chunks.

Challenge #2: It’s easier for a conference presenter to find imagery than a corporate presenter because corporate presenters need niche-specific images

I want to address this challenge very simply. It is not easy to find strong imagery–for anyone. The process of finding and choosing strong images requires time, ingenuity, and at times metaphorical thinking. I sometimes spend hours looking for one image, only to have to revise my approach because I am restricted to commercially-available images only (which is the same challenge corporate presenters face). On this blog, I’ve shared several ways to search through compfight.com, which is one of the best resources for free images available to corporate folks. Another option is the use of commercially-available iconography, such as those found on The Noun Project.

Challenge #3: Custom fonts are great but they are not so great for sharing a presentation with others. Similarly, standard fonts are not really that bad as long as the material is clear/readable

I have to agree with the creators of the deck that a standard font is not really THAT bad when it comes to design, and if one has to use a font like Arial, that’s at least better than using comic sans or herculenum. However, what makes a standard font problematic is that just like standard stock imagery, your audience is desensitized to it. This is not to say that I believe one must use a custom font (many of which are free), but using a typeface that connects to your audience, message, and theme can help set your message apart from others in your audience’s mind. Presentation designer Christin Upshaw puts the choice of font quite well:

“[U]sing just a basic font that EVERYONE has (Arial, Tahoma, etc.) is absolutely the right course of action. That doesn’t mean your presentation has to have bad design, it just means the font can’t be something you purchased. You can still make it look great.”

So, what do you do if your client does not have a font installed on his or her computer? If the license allows distribution, give them the font. Even better, export your work as a pdf (which is how many Slideshare users, including Stinson Design, upload their work) and distribute a static, unchanging, and well-designed file to your attendees.

Challenge #4: PowerPoint is still most often used, so it’s the best way to create your work and distribute it to others

Yes, PowerPoint is still the standard, but what’s awesome about tools like Slide Rocket, Google Docs, and Keynote is that files can be converted to PowerPoint (Keynote actually opens PowerPoint files..something I doubt Microsoft will ever add to PowerPoint) and shared with your audience. Neat, right?

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So, what’s your take on the corporate vs. conference style of presenting? Are these really unsurmountable challenges?

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Simple Design: Why Simple Isn’t Easy

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The Simple Design series will cover the basics of strong presentation design. The first part in the series is an introduction to the concept of simplicity in design and what that truly means when it comes to creating strong visual aids.

Often, when I consult with students, teachers, and professionals on presentation design, the subject of simplicity comes up. The idea that something complex should at the same time be simple can be a road block for novice presentation designers, particularly because we are so conditioned through misuse of presentation software to fill up every available inch of presentation “real estate” with bullets, clip art, non-sensical diagrams, doo dads, fire animations, wingdings, company logos, word art, and any other number of PowerPoint distractions. Imagine if Abraham Lincoln had used PowerPoint? What would we actually remember about The Gettysburg Address.

Simplicity is a powerful element to creating strong visual aids. Further, simplicity is something we crave, something we are now primed to seek out as we are driven to seek out meaning. Simplicity is the key to meaning; it allows your audience to move past noise directly to signal. But, simplicity isn’t simple or easy. John Madea, president of the Rhode Island School of Design, understands the power of simplicity first hand; in fact, he wrote the book on it. In his 2007 TED talk, “Designing for Simplicity”, Madea dissects the intersection of simplicity and complexity; simplicity is complexity, but it’s complexity at its most elegant and meaningful.

For Madea, simplicity is a part of the human experience; it’s about living life with more joy and less pain. But, simplicity isn’t simple, which is where design comes in. Design is the intersection of art and technology, the simple presentation of the infinitely complex human experience. At its best, design is about simplicity because design is about focusing on the meaningful. In a world of death-by-PowerPoint, this idea of simple design is even more important in the creation of visual aids and slideshows. Why? Because at the core, slides are a form of information design, the use of design elements to communicate, persuade, or inform.

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However, when we choose a template and create a seemingly endless repetition of title, bullets, clip art, incongruous transition/animation, we make content more important than the visual presentation or design of that content. So, what’s the solution? Well, you guessed it–it’s time to make presentation design SIMPLE. The six simple design elements are:

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The first lesson in the Simple Design series is “simplicity takes work.” Before jumping right into designing slides, we must first prepare ourselves for the design mindset, and that means defining what we mean by work.

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When it comes to slide design, one of the first and very honest things I tell students and teachers alike is that paring your work down, resisting the urge to jump right into a template, and being ingenious with the tools presentation software provides you with takes much more work than the opposite. To work towards simplicity, begin by considering three areas.

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Firstly, it’s important to analyze the context of the presentation and whether or not slides are truly necessary to communicating your message (yes, they are expected, but are they necessary?). A set of slides, if it’s only decoration, can quickly become a distraction for your audience and can cause them to focus less on what you have to communicate and more on what is happening behind or next to you.

Secondly, if you’ve determined that slides are necessary, you should then create a framework for the presentation by developing a storyboard of your content and organization. One of the most consistent pieces of advice given by professionals like Nancy Duarte, Garr Reynolds, and Steve Cherches is go analog! Get away from that computer (believe me, you’ll spend plenty of time on the computer), use your visual thinking skills, and draw your ideas out. Drawing out your presentation can help free you from the restriction that can come from only relying the imagery you search for (whether it is stock photography or creative commons images/iconography). Drawing and storyboarding also helps you see connection you might miss via the linear layout of a slideshow.

Finally, it’s important to set your slides up for design.

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This means beginning with a blank slate, so that you can resist the urge to conform your ideas to a template, as opposed to building a “look for your ideas”; turning on grids and rulers (would you build a house without a way to measure your dimensions?), so you can make precise placement a priority; and familiarizing yourself with your presentation software’s advanced tools such as cropping and image editing, font or typography, shapes, objects, and visual effects, so you can polish your individual elements and overall design.

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Whether you use Keynote, PowerPoint, Prezi, GoogleDocs, or Slide Rocket, it’s important to begin with a blank canvas. The biggest detriment to original simplicity is the pre-made template.

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Any good presentation software includes features that assist you in designing. Designers make deliberate decisions and consider alignment and hierarchy above all. Using grids, rulers, and getting a “bird’s eye view” of your slides will help you move towards simple design.

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Finally, explore your software’s advanced features. Keynote and PowerPoint both allow users to edit and enhance images, for instance, which can help you mold an existing image to fit your original theme.

Once you’ve set your slides up for design, it’s time to move on to the I in SIMPLE Design. Stay tuned for the next installment in this series, in which I’ll cover the glance media rule and its connection to slide design.

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