Tag Archives: persuasive slides

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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Slide Design: Learn From Print Ads

When it comes right down to it, the success of any presentation comes down to a sell. Maybe you’re selling a product, or a brand, or maybe an argument. Why not, then, steal some hints from those that make a living making sure products get sold: advertisers.

Great ads rely on attention-grabbing images, brand cues and limited copy. Consider these gorgeous ads from Bold Detergent:

Slide Design Example

Bold has created images so powerful and clear that no words are needed. They simply include a brand cue to drive home the point: Bold Detergent dissolves your messiest stains.

Visual images lessen processing burden and are more attention-getting and memorable than words. Is it any wonder, then, with all the cognitive benefits, the best print ads are those high on visual impact and low on copy?

Here’s another example:

Slide Design Example

Attention grabbing, memorable and clear. With only 7 words!

Slides are no different than print ads: they aim to sell. Thus, slide design should abide by the same principles.

1. Use powerful images. The more visual your slides, the more engaged your audience will be. Depending on your purpose, it may be appropriate to work in humor. And put away the clip art: The more professional your images, the more credibility you will garner.

2. Limit the copy. Ever hear the internet expression “TL;DR”? It’s shorthand for “too long; didn’t read” and you can bet that anything more than a few necessary words will get the same treatment during your presentation.

3. Use brand cues. Does the template you’re using reflect the brand identity you represent? Are you incorporating fonts, logos and other distinctive assets to remind your audience just who is behind the moving and visually engaging show they are experiencing? You should be.

By creating slides that have the impact of great ads, you are creating mental images in the minds of the audience. Associate your brand and your sell will stay with your audience long after you’ve left the podium.

Further Reading/Happy Clicking:
BuzzFeed’s 12 Best Print Ads of 2012
AdWeek’s Best Print Ads of 2011-2012