Tag Archives: custom slide design

Simplify Your Presentation

VisualSugar, Presentation Design Services, Custom Slides, PowerPoint
When is the topic of simplification more salient than during this season, as we all scramble around to get organized for the holidays and dawning of a new year? With  the constant conflicting demands of stressful professional lives and hectic personal obligations, it can be easy to forget to step back, breathe in and simplify.

Simplification not only soothes our souls, but also our minds. Our brains are drawn to information presented in a simple and straightforward way: Simple information rises above the noise. Organizing information primes it for easy consumption, but the further step of simplification can make information even easier to recall. When presenting make sure to use understandable and simple communication. When presenting data, refine and reduce the information on the slide.

Simplifying Language

The key to an understandable presentation is understandable language. When writing a script, be sure that the writing reflects normal speaking styles. Use small words, direct sentences and the active voice. Even when presenting to an educated or specialized audience, using large words, jargon or complex sentences decreases the rate of comprehension. The audience may still be processing the last point as new information is presented.

When sending out a presentation that the audience will read on their own, remember that most Americans read at a 7th or 8th grade level. (source)  Microsoft Word has a built in readability tool, based on Flesch-Kincaid readability tests, that grades copy as it’s written. Shoot for reading ease of 70% or higher.

Simplifying Data

It is always tempting to include the “full picture” when displaying data. Complex concepts often mean charts with two vertical axes, annotations or multiple data sets. Put a data display visual to the test by asking, What is the ONE point of this slide? If the answer has an “and” or “unless” in it, your data is too complicated and should be broken onto two slides (or built in with animation). And of course, always make sure to use the best format for your data.

In our busy world of constant information exchange, a simplified presentation is a breath of fresh air. Rise above the din by, simplifying your language and data. Always live by the “One point per slide” rule and extend it to your sentences. Straightforward information in bite size chunks has the best chance of being heard, understood and remembered.

“Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.”
― Henry David Thoreau

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Slide Design: 5 Tips for Hardworking Titles


There is no more greatly undervalued place on a presentation slide than the title field. Too often, title fields are filled with vague descriptors, packed with unnecessary verbage, or, worse, skipped all together (e.g. the Zimmerman trial prosecution slides). Slide titles have great real estate and should be put to use. Here are five rules of thumb for powerful slide titles.

1. Don’t Label

Labeling a slide with a vague descriptor may be the most common titling fail. Titles like “Revenue Chart,” and “Conclusion” are all too common and sometimes appear on several slides in a row. Nothing could be more useless for the audience.

A title is not a label; it is a headline. What specific information is this slide sharing? If multiple slides in the deck have the same headline, there are likely too many slides.

2. Argue

Even specific titles, while a vast improvement, fall short of their full potential. A title like “2014 Revenue Goals” is specific to its content, but falls short of driving home the argument of the slide. “2014: Increasing Revenue Via Product A” further clarifies the inherent argument of the data. Not only should a slide headline be specific to its exact content, but it should argue your point and lay bare a specific takeaway message. It should answer the question, What does this slide want to prove? What should the audience be learning?

3. Quantify

Most corporate communication uses deductive organization, which means the main thought must be stated and then supported. So take our title example one step further; “2014: Increasing Revenue By 25% Via Product A.” By quantifying the slide’s argument, the audience will receive all the information they need to assess up front. The data on the slide then serves as both proof and repetition, helping to solidify the point.

4. Use Action Words

Powerful writing uses the active voice. Active verbs are easier to understand, remember and summarize; thus, they are great for persuasive presentations designed to educate or convince. Titles are no exception.

5. Shorten It Up

Avoid the infamous 3 line heading. A title should be a specific and quantified argument. If you need more than 8 or 10 words to communicate the point, the slide concept may be over complicated. One point per slide!

During the review & finesse stage of your presentation production process, go back and examine each title. Is it unique to its content? Does it argue the point and lay out the important information? Is the wording active? Is it concise? It’s worth checking. Powerful titles make for powerful communication.

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