With the new wave of thinking on presentations, more and more presenters and designers are now looking out of the box when it comes to presentation design, and really trying to raise the bar when it comes to the PowerPoint norm. Yet, in terms of audience engagement and achieving objectives, ineffective design is just as bad as having no design at all. And, even if you have a great design, there’s actually a lot more to being an effective presentation designer.
In order to produce effective design, designers need to understand how audiences work; how to get the best out of PowerPoint; and how to get the right balance between design and function. Ultimately, presentation designers need to understand what will make a presentation more effective – and not just prettier.
So, how exactly do I think like a presentation designer?
Start in Analogue
First and foremost, presentation design should not begin in PowerPoint. A presentation is delivered for a reason, and the starting point of any presentation preparation should be to map out the objectives and messages, and plan the presentation – on paper.
All presentation designers who take themselves seriously should know by now that bullet points don’t work. Audiences will read rather than listen to the presenter; become bored; and will completely disengage.
Instead, visual slides should be used, that use animation, graphs and diagrams to express the point at hand in a way that engages the audience, as well as helping them to absorb information. When presentation design is used in this way, it can impress and engage audiences, and even ensure that audience members are able to recall more of the information delivered.
What Looks Good?
There are certain rules about what works on a slide that all presenters should follow. For example, colour schemes can have a big impact. The human eye is drawn to contrast, so colour schemes, whilst they shouldn’t clash (because it looks amateurish), should be sharp enough that text can still be seen clearly. Similarly, text needs to be big enough for it to be clearly read on any screen. At Convinced, we have a created a set of standards based on years of experience, designed to create the best possible impression of the presenter.
Presenters and designers also need to be careful not to distract their audiences. Irrelevant images, ‘exciting’ animations, and other pretty but unnecessary touches can take away from the focus of a presentation – the message. If you include an image that is pretty but not strictly relevant, you could lose your audience to a completely different train of thought. For example, using an aeroplane to represent travel can actually leave your audience members thinking about their holidays. If it’s not strictly relevant – don’t use it.
That said, when used correctly, animation can be a powerful tool in a presentation designer’s belt. Subtle animations can ensure that the audience’s attention is drawn to the right place at the right time. An example of this working effectively is to make a graph build, so that the audience sees each level of information at the relevant time. This stops information overload, allowing audience members to process each stage before moving on to the next. Using animation in this way ensures that the audience’s attention is where you want it to be.
But most importantly, every presentation should be designed in a way that truly reflects the message, and best delivers it to the audience. Every point and every piece of design should be created with the message in mind, so that upon every click of the slide, the message is further supported.
Days, Not Minutes
Don’t expect to be able to produce a winning presentation overnight. A presentation should take days to prepare, not minutes. We have plenty of resources on the site that can help – in addition to those listed above, check out our Bullet Points Don’t Work articles, or our PowerPoint tutorials. However, a few subtle changes may not have the effect you were looking for. In order to having the biggest impact on audiences, presentation designers need to embrace an entire presentation overhaul.
If, however, you want immediate results, or aren’t sure you’ll be able to get this one hundred percent right – talk to us. We have a range of services available for many different presentation needs.