According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 10% of the information we remember after a live presentation is retained through the spoken word; 65% is retained through visuals.
Without well-designed visuals, even a charismatic speaker will have less impact. In this blog, we’ll look at two key factors to ensure your message is memorable; Composition Best-Practices, and Red Flags.
Composition Best Practices
- White space. Don’t fill up the entire slide with imagery and text. Take a “less is more” approach to your design. Slides that are too busy can intimidate, bore, or confuse. When in doubt, use more graphics than text.
- Images only. Slides are a visual medium. Work to eliminate text and tell your story through photos, graphs, charts, drawings, or video. Pictures engage the brain and trigger meaningful associations that words cannot.
If you MUST use text …
- Easy to read. Use a 24-point font to ensure visibility. Sans serif fonts are generally easier to read. In Western cultures, people read from left to right, so be sure your design positions key information at the right or center.
- Simple language. Make your text read like headlines. Avoid full sentences unless you’re directly quoting a person or study. Drop small connecting words such as a, an, and the, and whittle the idea down to its gist. For example, “We expect there will be more changes in the near future” becomes “More Changes Soon.”
- Color. Use color to make it easier for viewers to distinguish between concepts and data. For example, on a graph showing current and projected sales for a product, and their times to market, assign each category its own color. This helps the audience quickly decipher and REMEMBER the meanings of the various lines and arrows.
- Keep it moving. Don’t let the audience read ahead of you. Create a “build” that adds each image, line of text. or image as you’re ready for it. Explore the many tools available that help make your slides lively through simple, eye-catching animations.
- Consistent. Be sure to use the same (or two well-paired) fonts throughout your presentation. Decide whether you’ll use periods at the end of text bullets and how you’ll use capital letters, and then follow that style throughout.
- Cultural inclusion. When choosing stock photography for your slides, be sure the faces represent a gender balance and mix of ethnicities. When presenters fail to be inclusive, they risk alienating members of the audience.
- Video. Video brings people, locations, and emotions into your presentation, enhancing your message. Showing customer testimonials, for example, is far more effective than merely capturing their quotations on screen.
- Conversion. Slides that look perfect on one device may change significantly when shown on another. Review your slides before showing them on a laptop or tablet other than your own.
- Peace of mind. Just because you find an image on the Internet does not mean it’s legal to use. For royalty-free images, use image banks such as Getty Images or Shutterstock. To use Google Images safely, enter the image you’re looking for, click “Advanced,” choose “Usage Rights” from the pull-down menu, and click “free to use, share or modify, even commercially.” For more information on staying safe visit http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Copyright-Infringement
- Don’t trust embedded videos. It’s Murphy’s Law; video clips programmed into presentations often play perfectly in rehearsal but freeze up in the presentation. Have a backup plan for showing video, and then rehearse your backup plan.
- Don’t rely on WiFi. The prestige of the business, hotel, or conference center is no guarantee of a reliable connection. Unless your presentation is being produced by a professional meetings and events company, don’t assume you’ll have glitch-free WiFi. When feasible, load your presentation in its entirety on your device to ensure optimal performance.
Much of this may seem like common sense, but common sense often goes out the window when you’re under a time-crunch and multi-tasking. And let’s face it, EVERY professional working today is continually working under a time-crunch and multi-tasking.
Therefore, when creating the visuals for your next presentation, step back, think, and put yourself in the audience’s shoes; would YOU want to read a screen full of text?
Didn’t think so.