Tag Archives: keynote

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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Designing for Display

SlideRabbit Presentation Design

In the last few months at SlideRabbit, we’ve dealt with some pretty interesting display methods: the giant mega-screens at Jay-Z’s 4040 Club, large rear-projection screens in courtrooms, aged monitors and even personal computers. The truth is, even if intended for a certain venue, a presentation may hit several different display methods in its lifetime.

Here are a few failsafe precautions you can take to insure that the time and money you put into your final product isn’t wasted by a bad display.

Hi-Res Images
Always pay attention to the size of your images. Image searching services like Shutterstock or Google Images list the pixel size, which can be easily converted to inches or centimeters. While a photo or icon may look fine on your monitor, once your presentation is on a larger screen, a low res image may not have enough detail information to look crisp and clear. When choosing an image size, err on the side of larger. A hi res image will look good on a smaller screen, but a low res image will look grainy and unprofessional on larger displays.

Size Set Up
As time and technology march on, more and more display screens have dimensions of 16:9. It’s important to know the dimensions of your display screen and design slide layouts accordingly. PowerPoint, Keynote and other presentation softwares allow the designer to change the slide canvas dimensions manually. Although there is a limit on how big you can go, setting the canvas to the largest equivalent dimension will allow you to design your slides for your screen, rather than hoping your content will scale up nicely.

Of course, 16:9 and 4:3 aren’t the only options. Page set up options also allow for custom canvas dimensions. Great for trade-shows or marketing events, producing a show in a non-standard size provides the chance to use an exciting or unexpected display method, adding interest for the audience.

Test, Test, Test
Go to your presentation venue and test the equipment there. Color balance, brightness and contrast settings can vary greatly; checking early and often insures that the design team can adjust to compensate for different displays.

If you’re sending a slideshow out, rather than presenting live, you may never now just how the final product looks. While you can’t control the display settings for a remote audience, you can do some due diligence. In advance of finalizing your presentation, test it out around the office. Play the show on multiple computers, large monitors, projectors and any other methods available.

Converting a slideshow to a video file is a great way to safeguard against non-standard font issues or hinky software version problems. If video isn’t an option, it may be important to click through the file on both a Mac and a PC. If permissible, send the file to a trusted friend or associate at another company to make sure that the fonts you’ve used are standard.

A lot of hard work, time and money go into producing strong presentations. Nothing is more disheartening than watching all that effort go up in smoke due to bad display. Splurge on high quality images, adjust page set-up settings to the display method and then test, test, test to make sure that your viewers get the full effect of all your hard work.

SlideRabbit Goes Clubbing!

Last week, we were thrilled to work on a deck celebrating the Communications and Public Affairs team of a large global PR firm. The event took place at The 40/40 Club, Jay-Z’s Manhattan lounge. Our slide deck played on 9-screen megascreens.

Heading up the design was our incredible Principal Creative, Tara Wilson-Valaitis. She truly is the Beyoncé of slides.

We are lucky enough to have our slides appear in courtrooms and boardrooms across the nation, but a nightclub is a first for us. Check out the pictures!

4040 Club | SlideRabbit Presentation Design
The blue images and base icon art included within this slide are from slides originally designed by the talented Magda Maslowska, of HauteSlides.

Contact us to get a super awesome presentation for your next meeting or corporate event!

Data Display: Which Format Fits Best?

In almost every slide deck, there’s at least one assertion requiring the back up of solid data. Presenters are faced with the challenge of how to display this data in a way that supports the conclusion offered in an easily understood way.

When choosing a format for data display, ask yourself the question, “What does this slide have to prove?” (Then, make that answer your title.) Explicitly identifying the main argument will help you evaluate whether your chart choice is doing its job. Let’s take a look at some common data display formats* and how and when they are best used:

Tables

Tables get a bad rap when it comes to informational design, but that’s only because they are often used when another format would have better represented the data. True, tables fail to make trends and patterns immediately obvious, but they still have value.

Custom Slide Design | Table Slide | Presentation ServicesTables are great at comparing detailed information about several related items at once. Take this table slide: The table delivers a lot of information about the importance of the various application capabilities across a range of application categories in a matrix format. This data does not need to convey a trend or pattern through numbers; it needs to show similarities across categories. This is when a table work best.

Line Graphs

Slide2Often line graphs are used to compare too many elements at once; the result is a cacophony of lines squirming all over the slide. A good rule of thumb for choosing a chart type is to select the chart type that will prove your argument most simply. Line graphs are best for showing simple trends over time. 

Bar Graphs

Slide3Bar graphs are a great choice when the information is a little more complex but needs to be easily compared over time or between groups. In this example, each bar represents overall stock value, and the stacked sections give more detail about where that value is coming from. Although it does represent change over time, using a line graph for this data would look chaotic.

Pie Charts

Pie charts take a lot of heat in the design community, but I firmly believe they have their place. They must be used carefully, as it is true that it is harder for the brain to judge the differences in area than differences in length. Pie charts should be avoided when the specific numbers represented are vital, when there are only small value differences among data points or when there are more then 5 or so data points.

Slide4However, pie charts excel at showing general percentages in the break down of a larger whole. This pie chart gives a quick and easy to understand overview of the make up of a company’s patent portfolio and uses color to speed understanding of finer points: the blues group the U.S. patents against the foreign patents, and the paler colors group the pending patents against those already granted.

Selecting the right format for your data is crucial to proving your point and persuading your audience. Special attention should be paid to whether the data is displayed powerfully. Does it address the assertion in your title? Is it easy to understand quickly? Are your annotations and labels meaningful or extraneous? Good graph design is like any other good design. Everything that appears on the slide must have a reason for being there and it all must work together to create meaning.

Visit our portfolio for more slide design examples!

 *All slides in this post are taken from the body of work for one particular client. Sensitive information, including company identity, has been withheld.