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Tips and Tricks about Presentations


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This post was written by
Scott Schwertly

Scott is the Founder and CEO of Ethos3.

Storytelling

The most important takeaway from our 2010 “5 Stages of Grief” SlideShare deck is how much of an impression storytelling makes on a presentation. The message is infinitely more powerful and impactful because it’s told through a particular character– Mitch. We easily relate to and emphasize with his journey through the 5 stages of presentation grief because he’s an individual rather than an abstraction.

Also, notice how thoroughly fleshed out the story is, despite the relatively few words we use throughout. The presentation could function as a children’s book in that it’s so poignant, simple and brief. Work to come up with the most compelling story you can tell with your content, and then pare it down and down some more until you have a concise, succinct story.

Lastly, another important takeaway from “5 Stages of Grief” is that it contains a level of unexpectedness. Simply eyeing the title of the SlideShare deck doesn’t give you a full idea of what’s inside, and surely the content surprised more than a few viewers. Moreover, rather than stop with 5 stages, we take it one step further by proposing a thought-provoking question: “But how do we know there isn’t a sixth stage of grief?” And follow it up with a humorous, tongue-in-cheek slide showing our hero Mitch about to hit the presenter with a fire extinguisher for revenge. Fun, amusing and unexpected extras like these are a nice addition to keep the audience intrigued from start to finish.

Design

“5 Stages of Grief” is an excellent example of how to design a presentation using a reoccurring character throughout. The trick is to use simple iconography. Our designer represented Mitch as a yellow stick person, and then he was easily carried throughout the deck. It’s nearly impossible to use stock photography for a character that appears on nearly every slide, so use simple people icons instead.

Also, notice how minimal and high contrast the backgrounds are that are used throughout. These backgrounds allow information to pop out at the viewer, while at the same time, help to keep the viewer’s attention exactly where it should be.

Finally, take a moment to notice the juxtaposition inherent in the typography used throughout this deck. The designer used a conservative font with a tall font to emphasizes importance, and the mixture of the two different types keeps the slides visually interesting and dynamic.

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