Recently I attended a conference. I don’t get out much, so this was quite exciting! There were quite a few speakers, all from organisations of a reasonable size, all of whom has Powerpoint presentations.
Unfortunately I can honestly say, all of the presentations except for two, were awful. The biggest irony were the slides used on a talk about branding. Yes you’ve guessed it! No branding or corporate continuity on the slides themselves whatsoever. Oh shame!
I did get a certain sense of smugness from one of the two good set of slides as it contained slides created from templates which we had given the client.
Powerpoint has given everyone the power to create their own presentations. This has unfortunately resulted in lack of the knowledge required to produce a good slide. This does not have to be so.
At Squiggle when we design corporate identities for clients we always produce a master template for Powerpoint slides as part of the job. This enables our clients to create their own slides in their corporate style.
The template covers all the basic styles required for the slides they will need to create. We set them up to make it easier to create a consistent look to the presentation. This not only is helpful and time saving it also stops the temptation to trawl through the truly awful microsoft set of templates in order to get a graphic ‘quick fix’.
However with the best will in the world, once we have created these, how the text, photos and charts are then added is down to them. So additionally we give helpful hints and tips and make sure our clients know we are on hand to help out if required.
Here are a few tips for Powerpoint User:
Type – less is more. You do not need to fill the slide with the biggest text possible.
Remember you will be projecting this on a screen. Powerpoint uses ridiculously large default sizes. We always change these to much smaller sizes. We also tweak the spacing and use subtle not garish highlight colours.
Avoid using every transition and animation in your slide, it is annoying. Keep it discreet and use sparingly. Remember again, less is more.
Keep all your heading and body text the same. Start it at the same point on each slide. In other words be consistent. Use the master slides to set up your text. Then type them into the outline view rather than the slides themselves.
Plan what your text conventions and layout conventions are going to be before you start. For example; are going to use full stops on bullets? Are you going to use a capital on each word of a heading or just the first word? There are many rules, and a lot of debate as to which is the correct convention, whichever you use, be consistent. Double spaces after full stops, lack of proper hanging indents and inconsistency with full stops are some of my pet hates.
Avoid saturated bright colours backgrounds and text. Bright pink, red, oranges and lime greens will see your audience diving for their sunglasses.
Don’t use clip art, low resolution files and logos nabbed off the internet. Not only will it cheapen your message, you might be in breach of copyright.
Don’t write ‘War and Peace’ or try to put too much text on one slide. Keep to prompts and key sentences. Do not put your complete text on the slides. This will only result in your audience trying to read it and then not listening fully to you. Keep it simple.
I could at this stage write ‘War and Peace’ myself. There is so much more I could say on the subject. I hope this helpful start for Powerpoint users out there.
Always remember if you want us to start you off with a template, do contact us. We will be delighted to help.
A bit of presentation history
Many years ago, back in the dark ages, I worked in Covent Garden with a computer graphics company (as it was termed in those days). In the company’s early stages of growth, it predominately produced 35mm presentation slides. We used a few bits of software to produce these with beautiful names such as the Wasatch Illustrator and the Cybervision Magic Inkwell. The software was reasonably crude, often fell over and took ages to render the slides to 35mm film. This often resulted in bleary eyed dashes in the wee hours to Joe’s Basement in Soho for E6 processing.
Within a few years our basic Apple Macs began to flower and so did the software. The arrival of Aldus Persuasion was in my view the zenith for simple presentation software. Persuasion was by far the easiest and nicest software for slide presentation.
Unfortunately from the world of Microsoft can the new kid Powerpoint, which was bundled with Office. Powerpoint, because of its accessibility to all PC users, increased in popularity. The first versions were clumsy, awkward and limiting. It was definitely not the best contender.
Unfortunately with the assimilation of Aldus into Adobe, Persuasion became a casualty, soon to exit the software arena, leaving the field clear for a Powerpoint monopoly. Today Powerpoint is vastly improved, but the backward logic which is so often used in Microsoft products, can still drive you to distraction. Fortunately after a virtual presentation drought for Mac users Keynote has finally given us a Persuasion for our times. Hurrah!
When in doubt use a pdf!
For years when I was speaking at conferences and teaching designers, I produced all my speaker slides in Quark or InDesign then saved them as pdfs. This proved far more reliable on every level to Powerpoint. I remember once being very proud of myself when at a conference my pdf slides were the only one which run without any problems. The other speakers were from Xerox, Canon, Apple and Heidelberg! Smug or what!