by Amanda Miller, TED.com, 6/13/19.
… “We’re living in a visual culture,” says Paul Jurczynski, the cofounder of Improve Presentation who works with many TED speakers to overhaul their slides. “Everything is visual. Instagram is on fire, and you don’t often see bad images on there. The same trend has come to presentations.”
Here, he shares 6 specific tips for creating the most effective slides.
1. Do keep your slides simple and succinct
“The golden rule is to have one claim or idea per slide. If you have more to say, put it on the next slide,” says Jurczynski. Another hallmark of a successful slide: The words and images are placed in a way that begins where the audience’s eyes naturally go and then follows their gaze. Use the position, size, shape and color of your visuals to make it clear what should come first, second and so on. “You don’t just control what the audience sees; you have to control how they see it,” says Jurczynski.
2. Do choose colors and fonts with care
…While it’s fine to use a variety of colors in your presentation, overall you should adhere to a consistent color scheme, or palette. “The good news is you don’t need a degree in color theory to build a palette,” says Jurczynski. Check out one of the many free sites — such as Coolors or Color Hunt — that can help you build color schemes.
With fonts, settle on just one or two, and make sure they match the tone of your presentation. “You don’t have to stick to the fonts that you have in PowerPoint,” or whatever program you’re using, says Jurczynski. “People are now designing and sharing fonts that are easy to install in different programs. It’s been an amazing breakthrough.” Experiment. Try swapping a commonly used font like Arial for Lato or Bebas, two of many lesser known fonts available online. Most important: “Use a big enough font, which people often forget to do.” Your text has to be both legible and large enough to read from the back of the room, he recommends — about 30 points or so.
BEFORE: Weak font, muddy colors
AFTER: Strong font, color that’s striking but not jarring
3. Don’t settle for visual cliches
When you’re attempting to illustrate concepts, go beyond the first idea that comes to your mind. Why? The reason it appears so readily may be because it’s a cliché. For example, “a light bulb as a symbol for innovation has gotten really tired,” says Jurczynski. Other oft-used metaphors include a bull’s-eye target or shaking hands. After you’ve come up with your symbol or concept, he advises people to resist the lure of Google images (where there are too many low-quality or clichéd choices) and browse a free image site such as Unsplash.
One potential source of pictures is much closer at hand. “If it fits the storyline, I encourage speakers to use their own images,” says Jurczynski. “Like one TED Talk where the speaker, a doctor, used photos of his experience treating people in Africa. That was all he needed. They were very powerful.”
BEFORE: Fake-looking stock photo to illustrate teamwork
AFTER: Eye-catching nature photo to illustrate teamwork
4. Don’t get bogged down by charts and graphs
Less is also more when it comes to data visualization. Keep any charts or graphs streamlined. When building them, ask yourself these questions:
What do I want the audience to take away from my infographic?
Why is this important for them to know this?
How does it tie into my overall story or message?
You may need to highlight key numbers or data points by using color, bolding, enlarging or some other visual treatment that makes them pop.
Maps are another commonly used infographic. Again, exercise restraint and use it only if it enhances your talk.“Sometimes, people overuse them — they put a map because they don’t know what else to show,” says Jurczynski. He suggests employing labels, color schemes or highlighting to direct your audience where to look. He adds, if you have the skill or know an artist, “you may even consider a hand-drawn map.”