Ethan Rotman

Posts Tagged ‘Graphics’

PowerPoint Pitfalls…

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, Delivery, New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets on July 7, 2010 at 9:36 pm

and How to “Purge” Them From Your Presentations     

by Jon K. Hooper, Ph.D.         

guest author for iSpeakEASY           

         

(This is a series to help enhance your PowerPoint presentations. Each edition pinpoints pitfalls that are commonly faced when planning, preparing, and presenting PowerPoint shows.)                 

       

Pitfall #3: “Accepting PowerPoint’s Defaults”    

Remember the last time you bought a backpack? You slipped it over your shoulders then adjusted the straps so the pack fit your body. You did not just accept the default positions of the straps. PowerPoint comes with the “straps” present; it is up to you to adjust them to fit your presentation style and goals.           

   

Pitfall: Using a “serif” font. The default font for PowerPoint shows is usually Times New Roman. While this is an excellent font for the printed page, the font’s serifs or finishing strokes (such as the feet on a capital “A”) make it difficult to read on a screen. A “sans serif” font (one without serifs) is better for projected visuals because it is easier for audience members to read at a distance.             

To purge the pitfall: Switch to a sans serif font such as Arial or Helvetica.            

Use sans serif fonts to make your slides easier to read

Pitfall:  Accepting default placement of text boxes. The designers of PowerPoint’s templates simply “take a stab” at the positioning of text placeholders (aka “text boxes”). They have no way of knowing exactly what position will create the most aesthetically appealing and properly balanced design for your situation because they do not know how many words, bullet points, etc. you’ll put into the text placeholders. Think of PowerPoint’s templates as blueprints. When designing your dream house, you would always tweak the architect’s initial blueprint. Do the same with PowerPoint’s templates.          

To purge the pitfall: Reposition text boxes to enhance the aesthetic appeal of slides. In the example shown in Figure 2, the default placement of the text box for the bullet points did not provide enough of an “aesthetic margin” on the left side of the image (i.e., the bullet points are simply too close to the left edge). Moving the text box a bit to the right really improved the design of the slide.            

Move text boxes to improve the aesthetics

Pitfall: Accepting default template backgrounds.  You wouldn’t hire a new employee that is “close enough” rather one that is “right on.” The same holds true when selecting a PowerPoint template. Don’t accept a PowerPoint template when you know in the back of your mind that there is one or more aspect of its background that needs tweaking.            

To purge the pitfall:  Learn how to edit the “Slide Master” so you can delete or alter distracting background elements. The example below shows an overall design and color scheme that is fine, yet the key on the left side of the template simply doesn’t relate to the message the slide is trying to transmit. Simply deleting the key solves the problem.            

Change your backgrounds to fit your message

Final Thoughts   PowerPoint’s designers set up the program to meet a majority of peoples’ needs. This doesn’t mean that the program’s defaults will meet your needs. Enhance your shows and make them stand out by tweaking the defaults a bit. Your audiences will appreciate your efforts.           

Dr. Jon Hooper has over 30 years of experience helping natural and cultural resource professionals enhance the effectiveness of their communication efforts. He is a professor of environmental interpretation at California State University, Chico and is the owner of Verbal Victories Communication Consulting.  jonkhooper@hotmail.com.            

For workshops on improving your presentations, visit www.iSpeakEASY.net. We help you profit from your words.

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Magical Transformations – Creating Effective Power Point Graphics

In Credibility, Delivery, New Techniques, PowerPoint, Public Speaking, Tools and Gadgets, Uncategorized on January 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

PowerPoint is so easy to use that we often believe that with a little bit of experience, we are good at it. Studies show that more than 80% of presentations are poorly done. You do not need to be a researcher though, to know that most presentations using PowerPoint are sleepers. Too often, shows are full of badly designed slides that contain too much detail and provide the audience with too little of what they really want – what it all means.

Take a look at the two slides below created by Marianne Gates.

Right off the bat – which has more eye-appeal? What is your initial reaction to each of the slides?

The objective of the slide is to demonstrate that taking a particular supplement lowers the oxidative stress level regardless of your age.

Which slide is more effective at reaching that objective?

Which are you more likely to remember?

Marianne realized the first slide contained more information than was needed. It is complex and overwhelming: audience members would not even try to understand it. Her success rate with her presentation overall was lower than she desired.

Notice the changes she made on the after slide:   

  • The graphics are clear and crisp.
  • The message is easily readable.
  • It contains only the information essential to her point.
  • Extraneous information has been eliminated.
  • The trend is clearly apparent.
  • She reinforces her point with color (red is bad and green is good).
  • She uses her words to give the context limiting the amount of information needed on the slide. 
  • (What you can not see here is the animation she uses. The slide opens with just the axis. As she talks, the red and green lines appear).

She has not cheated her audience by removing information; she has enhanced their ability to understand what she is saying.

Your graphics should be designed to help you get your message across as simply and easily as possible.

Marianne did not just “re-create” her slides. She went through a process of determining her message, laid out measurable objectives, and then created her visual aids. This was not an easy 15-minute fix. She invested money in training and many hours of time into improving her presentation. Her investment will pay off, as she will more easily and quickly reach her goals. She will save time and earn more money. She already feels more confident in her presentation, which will make her a more credible speaker.

Congratulations Marianne.

If you are interested in receiving a copy of “Tips For Effective PowerPoint Graphics”, send an email to ethan@iSpeakEASY.net with “PowerPoint Tips” in the subject line.

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