Thursday, October 10, 2013

Notes on Creating Effective Slides

When creating slides or other visuals, let accuracy and simplicity guide you. First, simple materials take less time to create than complex materials. Second, simple visuals reduce the changes of distraction and misinterpretation. Third, the more “bells and whistles” you have in your presentation, the more likely that something will go wrong.

Writing Readable Content 

Use slide text to emphasize key points, not to convey your entire message. Follow these guidelines for effective text slides:

  • Limit each slide to one though, concept, or idea.
  • Limit the content of each slide to twenty or twenty-five words—with no more than five or six lines of text containing about three or four words per line.
  • Avoid full sentences or blocks of text.
  • Phrase times in parallel form to simplify reading.
  • Use active voice.
  • Avoid long sequences of text-only slides; mix in visuals to hold viewers attention.

Selecting Design Elements

A.  Color
Research shows that color visuals can account for 60 percent of an audience’s acceptance or rejection of an idea. Color is more than just decoration; colors themselves have meaning, based on cultural experience and the relationships established between colors in your designs.

B.  Background designs and artwork
The background is the equivalent of paper in a printed report. Generally speaking, the simpler and “quieter” your background, the better.

C.  Foreground designs and artwork
The foreground contains the unique text and graphic elements that make up each individual slide. In the foreground, artwork can be functional or decorative. Functional artworks can be photos or drawings, charts, and other visual elements with information that’s part of the message. In contrast, decorative artwork simply enhances the look of the slide. These types of artwork should be avoided or be used sparingly.

F.  Font and type styles
Many of the fonts available on your computer are difficult to read on screen, so they aren’t good choices for presentation slides. Also, choose font sizes that are easy to read from anywhere in the room, usually between 24 to 36 point, and test them in the room if possible.

Design inconsistencies confuse and annoy audiences; don’t change colors and other design elements randomly throughout your presentation.

G.  Adding animation and special effects
Today’s presentation software offers many options for livening up your slide, including sound, animation, video clips, transition effects, and hyperlinks.

Functional animation involves motion that is directly related to your message, such as a highlight arrow that moves around the screen to emphasize specific points in a technical diagram.  Decorative animation, such as having a block of text cartwheel in from the off screen doesn’t have communication value and can easily distract audiences. 

Transitions control how one slide replaces another. Choose subtle slide transitions that ease the eye form one slide to the next.

A hyperlink instructs your presentation software to jump to another slide in your presentation, to a website, or to another program entirely. Hyperlinks is a great way to build flexibility into your presentation so you can instantly change the flow of your presentation in response to audience feedback. 

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