Tag Archives: slide design

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 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. 

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.

Have you signed up for our newsletter, In The Hopper? The next installment goes out next week and includes SlideRabbit news and awesome design from around the web. 

The Value Of The Visual

Between the horrendous NSA slides and the disappointing prosecutorial closing presentation in the Trayvon Martin case, we’ve seen some pretty terrible slide design in the news lately. These recent examples might seem like the exception, but unfortunately, they indicate the underlying perception that presentations are not valuable workproduct. Visual communication is a huge opportunity in the business sphere. Even more than briefs and spreadsheets, great presentations can engagepersuade, and increase information retention.

The NSA’s PowerPoint presentation on the Prism Program was intended as an educational piece about electronic surveillance. Visual communication is a great approach to communicating data and complex ideas in an understandable way, but the NSA missed an opportunity when they neglected to prioritize the quality of their graphics. The template and graphics are so poorly designed that they come across as confused and convoluted.

NSA Prism Slide Original | Presentation Design

Below, we’ve simplified the template to focus on the main point: the diagram of telecommunication data exchange. To increase speed of comprehension, we’ve added visual cues and changed the configuration of the diagram to emphasize the US as the “backbone.”

NSA Slide | Prism Powerpoint | Redesigned

The slides from the Trayvon Martin trial were so poorly constructed that they received some harsh words in the press. This slide from the Prosecutor’s closing arguments looks slopped together.

Trayvon Martin Slide Design

It’s hard to imagine that any professional would feel comfortable with this slide, never mind a prosecutor with 20 years of experience. Some quick finesse adds credibility:

Trayvon Martin | Slide Design | Improved

In the age of life-like video games and multimillion dollar advertising budgets, great design is all around us and subpar design has never been so obvious. Poor quality visuals damage not only the credibility of the presenter and organization, but also that of the arguments. Failing to spend the necessary time and resources on visual communication is an insult to the audience.

From the classroom to the courtroom to the boardroom, presentations can be excellent tools for communicating complex ideas, arguments, and strategies in a way that is memorable and easy to understand. Investing in the design and development of visual communication is as important as ensuring quality in all areas of professional communication.

For more thoughts how to employ presentation design in business, pop over to our Expertise page.

Slide Design: Picture This

Seeing Is Believing_Presentation DesignSeeing is believing – we’ve all heard that before. However, its truer and more literal than one might guess. We’ve discussed the effect that images have on memory, but what about their effect on persuasion?

The Picture Superiority Effect states that concepts are more likely to be remembered experientially when presented as images than when presented as words. Partially, this may be because our brains are more likely to generate a verbal label for an image than an image for a term. Generating this additional memory “tag” creates two pathways to recall.

Nolan Haims had a great post last week over at his blog about a beautiful, but very toxic, blue lagoon. Visitors ignored the grotesque warnings posted and believed instead that the water was just too pretty to be toxic. Even more than memory, this anecdote implies that not only do we remember images more easily, but we also believe them more readily.

The persuasive value of an image lies not in the image itself; instead it’s power is in the inferences that one draws from it. A study in the political sector found that constituents were more likely to believe a candidate supported a specific interest group after seeing a picture of that candidate with a member of the group. Campaign speeches and pamphlets can only go so far, but when we think we can infer the evidence for ourselves, we believe it.

The advertising industry has long since learned this lesson. Indeed, our tendency to believe what we see may be the only reason PhotoShop exists! A suspiciously slender Kardashian sister sure moves a lot of QuickTrim.

Yet, still too often presentations are stuffed with words and facts and figures when a simple picture would suffice. Not only are images more memorable, but they are more persuasive for our brains. If you really want to prove your point and resonate with your audience, then help them picture it.

Hmmmm…. (P)Interesting….

We’ve been a little quiet around here lately, but not to worry, everything’s just been going so well we haven’t had time to write. No complaints!

We’ll be back shortly, with more posts on persuasion, presentation skills and slide design. Check back next week!

If you need some distraction and great design in the meantime, pop on over to our Pinterest. We’ll be pinning great design, animation, branding and resources from all over the web.

Hope to see you there!

Persuasive Presenting: Death To Red Herrings

Presentation design: Avoid ClichésI once sat in court for a Big Oil client and watched with a mix of bemusement and horror as the plaintiff’s attorney put up an illustration of an anthropomorphized fat cat in a suit struggling to hold shut the door of a closet bursting with skeletons.

We can all see what my confused adversaries were going for: Big Oil is a bunch of fat cats with skeleton-filled closets. Don’t trust them!

A fair argument when it comes to Big Business of all sorts, but the miscalculation is this: Clichés are so overused that they bore our brains. This, likely expensive, piece of design was a throw-away for the jury.

Well-used metaphors can engage the brain and create powerful associations. Researchers in 2006 found that our brains are stimulated by original and intriguing metaphors that use sensory-charged words like “coffee,” “lavender,” and “perfume.” In fact, these words light up the primary olfactory cortex of the brain – the cortex in charge of processing smell.

However, when metaphors age and, finally, mature into clichés the effect diminishes. Phrases often heard in courtrooms like “a lot of moving parts,” “throw the baby out with the bathwater,” and “pulling wool over our eyes” become commonplace, meaningless language. In short, our brains read these phrases literally and the metaphor completely loses it’s ability to inspire thought or feeling.

I was once witness to slide where certain events on a timeline animated into “red herrings.” The trial team was enamored with the cleverness of the slide, but I watched as the jury sat, passive and bored, as the fish appeared. It simply did nothing for them.

If the jury remembered this graphic at all during deliberations, I’m fairly sure it was referred to as that “strange fish timeline.” A better strategy would have been to simply turn the offending events red and notate that the importance of these events was falsely exaggerated by opposing counsel. Then remove them completely and discuss what the situation looks like without them. Now a powerful point has been made, rather than just labeling events red herrings and expecting that tired phrase to do the work for you.

When it comes to incorporating graphics into your presentation, leave the clichés out and focus your resources on the concrete facts of your case. The more original your use of metaphor, the more it will resonate with your audience – inspiring thought and associations with the arguments you’re presenting.

Further reading:
Another Red Herring Story and Nine Other Don’ts from the Persuasive Litigator