I run a workshop based on my 5 Steps to Great Presentations. During the last session we didn’t have time to answer all the questions so I’ve answered some of them below. Enjoy!
Good resources for PowerPoint or Keynote templates
Most templates do more harm than good, they add visual distractions and clutter to your slides. The best templates I’ve seen come by default with Keynote and I personally suggest building your own simple template. Remember, any visuals on the screen should be reinforcing your message, everything else is clutter.
Tips for building your own simple presentation templates:
- Make use an existing colour pallet (checkout Kuler for pre-designed colour pallets rated by the design community)
- Keep the focus on your content (imagery or typography)
- Use a single colour, try a light or a dark background
- White has the advantage of making it easy to add many images found online into your presentation without worrying about those images having white boxes around them
- If you’re going to be photographed or are presenting via webinar I’ve heard dark backgrounds are best
- If you need to add a corporate logo make it small and put it in the bottom right hand corner, usually a logo is just clutter, so if possible try putting it on the first and last slide
A simple template leaves most of the space to show off the important elements of your slide: your content and visuals. Over the years I’ve developed numerous templates, get in touch
if you’d to discuss a professionally designed template for your corporation or presentation. I may also make my template available for download in the future which I use myself for workshops and client work. Signup for my presentation design newsletter
to be notified.
How much information to include in your presentation
Start by focusing on the goals of your presentation, make sure you can achieve your goals within the allotted time. If you don’t have a lot of time you might need to break your goal into multiple steps and start by raising interest in your topic with your audience and giving them an avenue to learn more. This is better than overwhelming them during your talk. If this is the case, try starting with a story but don’t give the ending, or leave them with a thought provoking question.
Most people are tempted to cram too much information into a given time slot. You need to know your audience and their level of understanding of a topic. If they are experienced in the field, you can cover more ground and move faster. If they are new to the topic, you’ll have to cut how much you cover, explain concepts as you introduce them, and use more repetition.
Improving the delivery of your presentation
The way you hold yourself, your pace, your tone, and intonation are all aspects of delivery. Mastering these elements takes practice. When I work with clients I will record their talks, listen to them, and provide feedback. You can try this yourself. You will be amazed at how much you will learn and improve by watching or listening to yourself.
Software to make professional presentations: Keynote, PowerPoint, or Prezi?
At the end of the day you should use what you’re most comfortable with.
- Keynote is my personal favourite and what we use for all the speakers at TEDxVancouver. It has great built in tools for making small adjustments to images, has clean animations, and an interface consistent with the rest of the iLife suite. It’s only available for Mac and not suitable if the presentations need to be run on a PC (unless you want to fiddle endlessly with a PowerPoint export or present a PDF or a movie file).
- PowerPoint has more features and can accomplish everything Keynote can and more (although that’s not necessarily a good thing).
- Prezi is great for specific types of presentations, specifically when you providing a high level overview or concept map and then drilling down into specific details of that overview. The zooming in and out provides context to the audience as you move from the high level to the detail level. For presentations where you don’t follow this format, the animation can cause a disorienting effect.
Career opportunities in presentation design
Presentations are used everywhere within the corporate world be it for internal purposes or public product announcements. That being said I’m not aware of many roles dedicated to presentation design. There are communication firms that specialize in presentation design, you might want to checkout careers at Duarte
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