All Blogs


Dodging Bullets: Your Guide to Becoming a Presentation Superhero

Dodging Bullets: Your Guide to Becoming a Presentation Superhero

Five simple tips for designing killer presentations

Let’s take a trip back in time to 1987: MTV, unfortunate perms, big hair… presentations? Yes, presentations!

In early 1987, a new user-friendly software program, “Presenter,” was released by Forethought Inc. so Mac users could create their own presentations. Renamed “PowerPoint,” Presenter was purchased by Microsoft later that same year and Microsoft's PowerPoint was officially born in 1990. There were a few competitors*, but it was soon clear that PowerPoint would become the industry leader. 

The times, they were a-changing. Slideshows could be made by anyone with a computer and designers were often cut out of the equation. Fast forward nearly 30 years—could this DIY-approach to slides be the cause for many ineffective presentations worldwide? Presentations are such a mainstay at conferences and events and, as a designer, I truly believe that slides need design love to be as effective as possible. So by sharing a few golden rules, my hope is that you may be able create killer, well-designed presentations.

1. Avoid bullets. Take a cue from Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Bulleted lists don't always look right. Instead, consider creating a list without bullets but with comfortable space between entries. Maybe a different color or smaller font would achieve the same result. If you’re comfortable with animation, drop each list item in one at a time, preferably next to a big image that visually represents the key takeaway.

2. Keep it simple. According to presentation guru Nancy Duarte, information needs to be memorable, to the point, and crafted for the audience. There’s nothing worse than sitting through a long presentation with too much content. Keep the text brief and remember to include graphics, color, and photos whenever possible. There’s a reason people say a picture is worth a thousand words.

3. Be a mix master. Vary the layout. Whenever possible mix up the slide formats — text slides, chart slides, and graphic slides. The change in visual rhythm will keep the audience engaged. Do what it takes to keep the story exciting. An engaged audience absorbs content by following an interesting speaker and enjoying a stimulating slide show. Mixing up slide formats is great way to keep slides stimulating.

4. No reading allowed! Don't read the slides. EVER! Let your slides be a reference to your message and allow your audience to see only the important facts. They are not intended to be a projected script. Folks can read for themselves. Reading for them will bore the audience and potentially seem patronizing.   

5. Have fun. Enjoy yourself. If you are not having fun and making the slide show entertaining, no one else is going to enjoy it. The most boring subject matter can be brought to life by an energized presenter. Keep the audiences’ attention by moving, walking, laughing. Use second screen technology to engage in a two-way dialogue and let the attendees become participants in the presentation. Do what it takes to make the audience want to pay attention. They’ll thank you for it.

blog comments powered by Disqus
More Like This
EnergyHealthcareTechnologyBest PracticesBrandingCreative
Brian rich-2

Brian Rich

Associate Art Director

He uses a strategic and creative approach to distill complicated concepts into simple yet powerful designs. Brian has the unique ability to quickly synthesize essential brand attributes into visualizations that build a storyline while striking the perfect tone, message, and feeling for the...

read on