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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.

Last October, your faithful correspondent was finally obliged to give her very own presentation at BarCamp Nashville. After much trial and error, additions and deletions, and a lot of patience from the poor designer tasked to create this, “Your Presentation as a Backpack” was complete. And what a beautifully designed deck it turned out to be. Here are three quick tips we can learn about presentation design from it.

#1 – Speak to Your Slides

A quick scroll through this deck might leave you thinking, “What?” or “I need more information.” Both of those are fair reactions, but it’s important to keep in mind that this deck was designed to be spoken to, not stand-alone. If it had been designed specifically to live online, it would certainly need either more text on each slide, or a voiceover.

With that said, notice how much potential lives within each of these few-words or wordless slides. The presenter can choose to spend 20 seconds on one slide, and then spend 5 minutes on another. It’s completely up to his or her digression, which makes for a much more compelling and engaging presentation.

Let’s take slide 51 as a great example of a visual-driven slide designed to be spoken to:

Here are the speaker notes that accompanied this slide: Stories also help put abstract information into an accessible framework that our audiences can relate to, and stories promote conversation rather than an automatic judgment. Think about presenting a statistic to your audience. They have two options in that case: to agree or disagree. But if you place that statistic into a story framework, you give the audience an opportunity to participate and relate to the data.

From there, the speaker can elaborate or eliminate as much as he or she wishes. We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: You’re Batman, and your slides are Robin. Everyone needs a great sidekick, but you’re the one running the show. Don’t forget that.

#2 – A High Slide Count is Okay!

Don’t be afraid of, or intimidated by, having a high number of slides in your presentation. “Your Presentation as a Backpack” has a whopping 94 slides, which may seem daunting, but the actual time it took to deliver was less than 20 minutes. Clicking through your deck rapidly is a great way to keep the audience interested and completely immersed throughout your presentation.

#3 – Consistency is Key

The easiest way to create a clean-looking presentation is by establishing a high level of consistency in your design from start to finish. All slides should look like they belong to the same family, which means there needs to be similar design elements used throughout. Notice how all the slides in “Your Presentation as a Backpack” mesh well together; they all look alike. A classic feature of Death by PowerPoint presentations is their lack of consistency, so do what you can to sidestep that landmine.

If you’re interested in the paper cut-out design element used in this deck, head over to this Presentation Design 101 blog post to find out how to implement it in your next presentation.

 

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