Any person with basic computer skills can create professional-looking slides for their presentations if they adopt a strategy of audience first.
The secret of great slide design isn’t merely an aptitude for design and years of training, though undeniably, both of those help. But if you don’t have that, you still can compete with stunning impact.
All you have to do is approach your visual presentation as if you are viewing it through the eyes of your audience rather than your own.
That’s because you see your slides as a way to illustrate the data and points you want to make in your presentation. The audience has a much simpler approach. They want to see something interesting.
When you marry those two ideas, you have the winning formula.
Here’s how to do that in 10 easy steps:
Tip #1. Visualize yourself as the audience member. Who are you likely to be? Are you an academic, a prospective business buyer, a prospective individual buyer, a possible investor, a student, or a colleague? How are you likely justifying the time that you are spending listening to this presentation? Did you go willingly and if so, what is it you are looking to gain from this? Were you forced to go by a supervisor or someone else, and if so, what will change your attitude and make you genuinely engaged? Now you know what needs you have to satisfy as you deliver your information.
Tip #2. Go over your data to discern what gems of information would most intrigue your audience and prompt them to sit up and really take notice. If your presentation is no more than half an hour, identify five key points and three sub-points that make the case for them. (Double the number of points if it is an hour-long presentation.)
Tip #3. If you have no design background at all, it is okay to go to your PowerPoint program and select an appropriate template. There are two schools of thought about this. Trained designers may roll their eyes at the very idea of using a template, but if you can find one that works well with your subject matter, why re-invent the wheel? Make sure the template allows for black type on a light background. Nothing puts people to sleep faster than straining to read white type on a solid black background.
Tip #4. Break out of the traditional diet of pie shapes and bar graphs and bulleted lists. Serve up something fresh and new with stimulating quotations, a humorous cartoon, a stunning photograph, or a thought-provoking question. Your support points could be as simple as one essential question like “Did you know that ….?” or “What would you do if you knew that …?”
Tip #5. Make you content the master of the slide show. Don’t distract your audience with a variety of different type fonts, a dizzying array of colors, slides that contain just too much text or unnecessary design doodles. You want clean, crisp and simple.
Tip #6. Be conscious of which slide follows another. Go over your entire presentation at the end to make sure that your audience does not move from one visual to another with a jolt. You want a smooth ride that ties together well.
Tip #7. Focus a great deal of time on determining the precise headline for your slides. Think about it as a billboard that people are approaching as they drive their car fast. What will make an impact on them? The standard advice is to ensure that people absorb your point in three seconds or less.
Tip #8. Don’t get bogged down trying to use animated slides if you have no background or expertise in design. Used well in the hands of pros, they can be amazing. But if you could do that amazingly, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
Tip #9. Never compromise on finding great images. Take as long as you need. Images connect with your audience’s memory and stick there in a way that your words cannot. If you do not take excellent photos yourself, make use of the many free photo sites on the Internet. Some examples are pixabay.com, CompFight.com (a device that searches through Flickr images), and TheNounProject.com (a great source for icons and graphics).
Tip #10. Check out some of the best slide presentations for ideas and inspiration. Producing a great visual is as much about the creative thought behind it as the technical expertise to build it. Inspire yourself with ideas by reviewing some of the presentations on some of the many slide deck sites. For example, check out the popular www.slideshare.net, www.noteandpoint.com, and www.speakerdeck.com. Notice how the best slide shows ignite some emotion within you and intrigue you. That is the impact you want to have on your audience.