Tag Archives: unity

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).

Screen Shot 2014-03-17 at 12.01.08 PM

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.

PPP Slides copy.003

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.

PPP Slides copy.004

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Slideshare of the Day: Soffia Says You Need to Travel

Slideshareoftheday.001

I had the great pleasure of meeting superstudent Soffia Jonsdottir in Alex Rister’s September Professional Communication and Presentation course. Soffia is a marketer, designer, lifelong learner, and world traveler. Today’s Slideshare of the Day is also the Top Presentation of the Day. In this offering, which Soffia presented in class as an Ignite persuasive presentation, we learn a few reasons why we should travel as well as getting a glimpse at some of the design practices Soffia learned during her time in PCP. A few of my favorites are her cohesive color scheme (we worked on colors for her presentation a lot in class–which combination of colors really worked best, when to use green, when to keep the color simple); her use of a consistent shape to enhance the unity of the presentation, and her juxtaposition of typefaces. Check out Soffia’s awesome deck below:

 

Tagged , , , , ,

Course introduction infographic

As I talked about in July, I’ve been working on building my infographic muscles. One project I’ve been involved in is an infographic to serve as a quick view version of the video and text course introduction our online students begin their month in Professional Communication and Presentation with. I used what I learned about designing an infographic to develop this deliverable. This isn’t a final version, as I still have a bit more tweaking to do, but I am stoked to share what I’ve done so far with you!

IntroInfographic.001

Color, Type, and Layout

One of my goals in creating this infographic was to maintain the overall look of other course materials. The course introduction for PCP was created by Alex Rister, so I drew my inspiration from her design. Alex previously shared her presentation with readers. Check out a version of the deck below:

This meant focusing on a simple color palette of orange, black, white, and grey, and two typefaces, Blackjack and League Gothic Caps. I appreciate the simplicity and cohesion of Alex’s design for our intro slides, and it translated very easily to the infographic form.

Intro Slides.002

In addition to considering color and type, I also worked to help students interact with and process the infographic by creating flow and organization through a left to right, top to bottom hierarchy and the use of lines and color to create segments.

Iconography

Because I want this to be a document that is quickly processed, I chose to use icons from The Noun Project as well as simple shapes and diagrams to communicate the core ideas presented in the infographic. My favorite? It has to be the robot!

Intro Slides.003

What do you think of this latest project? I am definitely in the revision phase of Duarte’s presentation ecosystem, and am open to suggestions. What projects have you been working on lately? How have you been building your presentation muscles?

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

My Teaching Philosophy: an Infographic

In preparation for our focus for Week 2, part 1 of PCP, I’ve cooked up an infographic add-on to my teaching portfolio. I used the colors I’d created for our Liberal Studies Round Table sessions and after much tweaking, I found a way to communicate my teaching philosophy/brand mantra, instructional design approach, teaching style, and leadership approach. I hope to show this as an alternative to what students can create using Keynote, and the basic building blocks of a strong deck or visualization: color, type, shape, and image/iconography.

ChiaraOjedaInfographic.001.001

Have you been working on your professional persona? What did you choose as your medium?

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

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

real simple images.039

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.

real simple images.041

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.

real simple images.042

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.

real simple images.043

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

Typefaces:

real simple images.047

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:

real simple images.049

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:

real simple images.051

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:

real simple images.053

real simple images.054

real simple images.055

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:

real simple images.056

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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.

Tweak Your Resume1.001

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.

Tweak Your Resume1.010

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?

Screen Shot 2013-05-13 at 10.23.41 AM

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,
Creating Communication

21st Century Presentation and Communication Tips

An Ethical Island

How to Teach Without a Lecture and other fun

BILAL MURAD

An Artist A Graphic / Web Designer / Blog Designer An Art dealer

Metscher's Musings

My musings in Brand, Marketing Communications, Social Media and Public Relations

hovercraftdoggy

A curated glimpse into a world of infinite beauty and creativity.

Moving People to Action

Conor writes about Intentional Leadership and Building Self Belief in those around you

Margaret Moon

Reader - Writer - Simplicity Enthusiast

Remote Possibilities

Here’s to better presenting!

Jitesh's Domain

Game Designer. Producer. Gamer.

Homes by Helene Delgado

Your Neighborhood Real Estate Expert

SLIDES THAT ROCK

Stand Out, Connect, Sell Your Idea!

Speak for Yourself

Claire Duffy's blog about public speaking and communication (in real life). Speak well, do well!

make a powerful point

about PowerPoint, presenting, slides and visualization.