In a previous article I discussed how to plan a PowerPoint presentation. We looked at the role PowerPoint ought to play in preparing a presentation. Now I want to talk about the actual building of a slide deck.
It's important to remember that presentations are not suppose to depend on PowerPoint. Rather, slide decks should enhance and clarify a presentation. To do this, well-designed slides are critical.
There are rules to help achieve well designed slides, like the 5x5x5 rule. Basically, it's the idea that each slide you create is able to be comprehended in under 5 seconds, has no more than 5 bullet points, and each bullet point contain no more than 5 words. This is a good rule of thumb for those who don't want to think about how their slides are designed. But there's a reason this approach works.
Good design is simple. Therefore a well-designed slide is simple. It's simple enough to be understood. It's simple enough to be visually appealing. It's simple enough to be moving.
So, how do you achieve simplicity in design?
- Use a simple background. Don't have a lot of visual distractions. Instead consider using solid backgrounds that contrast well with the type and images.
- Use a consistent color palette, consistent fonts (preferably one), and consistent kinds of images. And make sure your fonts don't get smaller than 28 points, because you're illustrating your presentation, not writing speech notes. If you have a lot of information you want to get onto a slide, consider breaking the slide up into several slides. It's better to err on the side of having a lot of slides than having a few that are hard to read and boring. And keep the speech notes to yourself.
If you want your audience to get your speech notes, consider creating a separate document for distribution.
- Avoid using animations or transitions, unless it helps enhance your presentation. But it must be used consistently and sparingly.You want your audience to connect with what you are saying, not to become distracted.
Photo courtesy Steven Ung of Flickr.com