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Data Visualization 101: What It Is & Why It’s Important

Data visualization is a powerful force.

Make no mistake: when data is involved, a visual is essential. A well-designed presentation with ample data visualization is a surefire way to get your message across.

Plus, it’ll keep people engaged.

Nothing puts people to sleep faster than someone rattling off statistics or trying to explain quantitative change over time.

Having a contextual representation of the data helps presenters stimulate their audience, giving onlookers a reason to pay attention.

A quarterly boardroom presentation, the pitch for a merger or acquisition, an appeal to stakeholders, the next big company initiative—whatever the subject of your business presentation, it demands data visualization.

Without something to look at, your message may fall on deaf ears.

What is Data Visualization?

Data visualization turns quantifiable data into something more than graphs, tables and charts. It creates comparisons through images and makes sense of data beyond numbers.

More than turning numbers into images, data visualization connects them with three important context variables: MeaningCause and Dependency. These variables help audiences better understand what they’re seeing and connect them to the greater concept.

For those of you looking for a deeper dive into data visualization, check out
our “Mastering Data Visualization” guide:

Download eBook

Why is Data Visualization Critical?

Humans are visual creatures! Hence, every business presentation involving data needs a slideshow.

Engaging your audience’s sense of sight, along with aural stimulation, is a twofold way to get your point across—especially if it involves data and figures.

Take a moment to think about math.

Most people can’t do a multi-step equation in their head. But, give them a piece of paper and a pencil and they’ll have no trouble working it out in short order.

The people viewing your business presentation may not have to solve any problems, but the concept is the same. Without visualization, it’s hard to come to a conclusion or contextualize data. Creating a visual makes it easier for the brain to digest information.

Take the following simple statement, for example:

“Customers were four times more likely to buy Product X than Product Y, and nine times more likely than Product Z.”

Hearing that statement might raise a few eyebrows, but it’s hard to visualize what that means in your head. Instead, attach those figures to pictures of the products or proportionate representations, and you’ve created context.

Suddenly, the data is about more than numbers—it’s about competition. It’s about market share. It’s about dominance.

Example: Visualizing the World’s Biggest Data Breaches

Here’s a great visualization of the world’s biggest data breaches:

View the full visualization here.

As you can see, good data visualization connects figures to concepts in a way that provokes thought beyond the numbers.

Yes, simply saying “Anthem’s data breach affected 122% more people than Adobe but only 14% more than Target ,” provides important information that can be digested — however, proper visualization of the statement allows for the audience to pick up on trends and patterns more easily and quickly.

It gives meaning to the greater concept, reveals the cause behind the figures, and explains the dependency of the data, so people can make broader conclusions.

Data Visualization isn’t Always Easy

While data visualization is the key to getting your message across, creating it is easier said than done. It needs to walk the fine line of creativity, relevancy, and clarity, or people will miss the message entirely.

Keep this acronym in mind:

  • Clearly distinguish the data 
  • Leverage powerful imagery 
  • Explain the “in” 
  • Allude to the bigger picture 
  • Remove unnecessary elements 

Remember that this is meant to make data appealing. Someone should be able to see the data, contextualize it, and connect it to a larger concept.

But more than that, data visualization should tell a story.

Let’s say you’re describing Total Addressable Market (TAM), Serviceable Available Market (SAM) and Target Market (TM) in a pitch deck.

It’s one thing to say “our TAM is 80 million people, our SAM is 40 million people and our TM is 10 million people.” It may be true, but it’s uninspiring. It doesn’t tell the story of your product, brand or abilities. Instead, consider the power of data visualization:

Data visualization has levels, too.

In the above example, you might use your brand’s colors to delineate the different groups or arrange the icons in the shape of your logo. It’s subtle nuances like this that empower data visualization and drive the point home.

For most people at the helm of a business presentation, it’s hard to conceive these nuances when designing a slideshow.

Business professionals are intent on delivering the message—they’re not as engaged in how it’s delivered. Only someone with a background in graphic design or media analysis understands how important the little things are in data visualization.

And while almost everyone has access to PowerPoint, few people have the design chops and creative ability to execute exceptional data visualization.

PowerPoint is the Gold Standard for Data Visualization

Let’s make one thing clear: PowerPoint is the premier tool for data visualization.

We’ve all seen our fair share of bad PowerPoint presentations, but that’s not representative of how powerful this software truly is. In the right hands, PowerPoint is a game-changer for any business presentation.

PowerPoint offers numerous tools to make understanding facts and figures easier, particularly when it comes to data visualization. In-suite table and graph generation makes it easy to turn data sets into basic visuals—color-coded, labeled and in myriad styles.

Drag-and-drop, resize and stylistic tools also make it easy to insert prepared images into the presentation itself. Animation keeps audiences engaged! While we don’t recommend the star wipe for a formal presentation, dissolves, fades and curls are all great options.

For someone with a graphic design background, PowerPoint is a playground for making even the driest facts and figures interesting and exciting.

Data Demands a Visual Experience

It doesn’t matter how interesting or important your data is, it’s not going to have the effect you want it to without visualization to make it real.

For a business presentation to be successful, it takes emphasis on data visualization and the design elements that make important information pop off the page. If you’re going to give a business presentation with a visual element, make sure the visual is truly engaging. Dropping text into a PowerPoint isn’t enough. Adding colors and transitions might make it flashy, but they don’t inspire your audience.

To take your presentation to the next level and drive home a true understanding takes data visualization, done right.

Ready to take your presentation to the next level? Schedule a free presentation consultation now.

11 Guidelines for Planning & Designing Your Best Presentation

We’ve all seen our fair share of dull PowerPoint presentations.

You know the ones—those wonderful preloaded templates. The walls of text. The “page turn” transitions…

Suffice it to say, presentations — and their visual aids — have come a long way since the early days of PowerPoint. 

At SlideGenius, we’ve spent the last eight years mastering all the tricks and skills needed to deliver a truly excellent presentation that stands out from the crowd, which is why we wrote this post on 11 tricks you can harness to create a winning presentation:

1) Start with a Strong Hook

They say the first 10 minutes of any presentation are the most crucial.

That time frame is when your audience is most receptive to what you have to say. Fail to catch their interest from the start and you may as well pack it up for the day.

You need to start strong with a compelling hook that makes your audience want to know more.

Propose a thought-provoking question or tap into the essential interests of your audience. The goal is to set the stage for your presentation. Everything you present should be grounded in what you establish at the start, to deliver a satisfying payoff for your audience.

For maximum effect, be sure to do the same with your presentation deck. Here’s how Spotify hooks it’s audience with colorful animation:

This presentation grabs your attention right off the bat with its beautiful, fresh imagery and animation sequences. You can’t help but be excited, can you?

2) Use Storytelling to Help Information Retention

The typical business presentation can be boring, bland, and emotionless, the culprit typically being the presenter focusing too much on hard facts without any sense of narrative. 

Information will always have its place in presentations, but the human element of your presentation should not be overlooked.

Numerous studies have shown that humans remember information more easily when it’s structured like a story. (In fact, memory champions regularly integrate a storyline structure to help recall long strings of information.)

Having a basic narrative structure helps establish a flow that audiences can follow and anticipate. Just ask Dr. Zak, who carefully explains how the human brain responds to effective storytelling in this video:

As you plan your slides, create a sense of progression and development. Begin with an introduction that establishes and contextualizes who you are and what you offer.

Naturally, the middle of the presentation should build on your foundation, providing proof you can deliver on your claims.

Your conclusion should tie everything together and deliver a feeling of fulfillment and excitement.

3) Use Visuals to Grab (and Keep) Your Audience’s Attention

Just like there have been countless number of studies on how storytelling can help increase memory, an equal number of studies have proven how humans are visual creatures.

We don’t just crave imagery, we need it.

So why don’t more high-stakes presentations take visuals more seriously? 

Your presentations should make use of high-quality images, diagrams, and chart designs while integrating them with attention-grabbing animations.

The trick is not to overdo it (too many animations can actually be overwhelming), to make them consistent, and to select images that your audience will be able to relate to (more on that later).

Here’s example from our friends over at Red Bull:

Pretty cool, huh?

See how cohesive the narrative and design elements are? It really ties in Red Bull’s identity and keeps the presentation consistent and visually stimulating.

4) Don’t Show. TELL.

The most common mistake presenters are guilty of is an over reliance on text. This creates two glaring problems:

  1. Blocks of text are not appealing to look at.
  2. Too much text can cause you to use the slides as a script. When faced with such unfiltered information, audiences are sure to tune out quickly. 

As stated previously, you need to tell your story using visuals — and the best way to allow that is to minimize text on each slide to create more real estate for imagery and animation to flourish.

It will take some time and practice to get used to, but you can rely on images to deliver the same message a line of text normally would.

(After all, “a picture is worth a thousand words”, as they say.)

Here’s an example of how we helped Duolingo visualize information that would have otherwise been dull:

It’s important to keep in mind that with less text to read from, it will rest on your presentation skills to emphasize the essential information on screen.

5) Understand Your Audience for Maximum Effect

Marketing 101… know your audience.

Always be mindful of who exactly you are presenting to because people only care about what you can do for them.

If you’re trying to garner a company-wide buy-in for a new Design Operations initiative, the presentation you’d use to present your argument to C-level executives should be much different than the one you’d use to present to your company’s creative team.

Both teams will benefit from the new initiative. However, each team has different goals to achieve. Hence, the information in each presentation should speak to each audience’s respective goals.

And yet time and again, we see companies using the same sales presentation across different buyer personas, or recycling presentations meant for a specific department across the entire organization.

A more tangible example comes from brand communication coach Carmine Gallo’s book, The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, where he helped a CEO prepare a sales presentation for an audience of tech-savvy analysts.

Gallo suggested the CEO simply state the relevance of his company’s technological services to the audience instead of his originally lengthy and technical explanation.

The CEO asked his audience to hold their cellphones out. Then, he elaborated on how his company made those devices more efficient for its users.

Let’s think about this for a moment. His audience was mostly tech-savvy people. Although most of the audience could have kept up with the CEO’s original tech-heavy introduction, they still needed to know why the CEO’s topic matters to them.

With this approach, the CEO was able to keep his presentation simple and relevant with an engaging delivery about what his company can offer his audience.

6) Encourage Audience Participation for Increased Engagement

Audience participation is important because it deepens your relationship with your audience, while exhibiting your openness and transparency as a presenter.

The point is to treat your audience as an integral part of your presentation (instead of simply spectators) because based on the form of interaction, it can help your audience make important connections around what you’re presenting.

Here are some things you can do to encourage audience interaction:

  1. Ask them questions
  2. Give them something physical to do
  3. Give them something to react to
  4. Invite a volunteer
  5. Use a real object as a prop
  6. Use body movement

Speaking coach, Alex Lyon, goes into each tip in more detail in this video:

But remember to always be on your toes. Keeping the door open for feedback invites a slew of personalities. Some will authentically want to know more, while others will nitpick every single detail down to its bones.

7) Always Push Your Branding

As the presenter, you have full control over the information featured in the presentation.

Consider the mindset of your audience.

Do they have the time or interest to sift through dense sheets of financial information? Too much information in a presentation is a mistake many still fall for.

Take matters into your own hands. Carefully handpick the most essential pieces of information and showcase them in interesting ways. This can be done using infographics, charts, or sometimes simply just raw numbers. It’s important that your audience understands what you’re telling them quickly and clearly. Over complicating things by putting in too much information only risks confusing your audience.

Color, imagery, and language are big pieces of your branding. 

Every slide is an opportunity to educate your audience on exactly who you are. 

It’s all about consistency. 

The goal is for your audience to accurately recall the main aspects of your brand. Whether it’s your distinct color scheme, unique design elements, or fresh tone of voice, keep reminding your audience who you are and what makes you different from the rest.  

Here’s a pitch deck we created for NBC Universal that shows consistent branding in action:

8) Keep Data Simple

As the presenter, you have full control over the information featured in the presentation. 

Consider the mindset of your audience. Do they have the time or interest enough to sift through dense sheets of financial information? 

No, they don’t. 

There is such a thing as too much data in a presentation, and it’s a mistake many still make:

Over-complicating things by putting in too much information only risks confusing and alienating your audience, especially when data is important to their job roles.

The trick is to carefully handpick the most essential pieces of information and showcase them in interesting ways. It’s important that your audience is able to understand what you’re telling them quickly and clearly. 

This can be done using infographics, charts, or sometimes simply just the numbers. 

Here’s a revamped, simplified, easier-to-consume version of the above slide:

9) Bring the Energy

Enthusiasm will go a long way, and your audience will gravitate to you for it. 

No one likes having to sit through a presentation by someone who looks like they don’t want to be there. By keeping your energy up, you naturally project a feeling of confidence.  

Eye contact is a simple detail that’s worth remembering because it easily and directly connects you with your audience.

Remember to focus on who you are speaking to, whether it’s a face-to-face meeting with a potential partner or in front of a conference audience.

10) Include a Call to Action to Encourage the Next Step

In the narrative of your presentation, the final slide does not mean the end of the story.

When it’s all said and done, all your cards laid out on the table, you must guide your audience to make the next move. Whether you’re looking to make another sale or pen a new partnership, audiences need to be told explicitly what their next step should be. As the presenter, you can direct your audience where you want them to go.

While it ultimately rests on their shoulders to make decisions, you did your part to enforce your goals for the presentation.

11) Practice…a Lot

While it ultimately rests on their shoulders to make decisions, you need to do your part to enforce your goals for the presentation. After all, “practice makes perfect.”  

Before you even step into the boardroom, you should know your presentation by heart. Rehearsals allow you to iron out any kinks that may affect the quality of your presentation.  

Practicing is a great way to ease the nerves before the big pitch. The constant repetition will prepare you for the mindset you have to be in to deliver a winning presentation. A practiced speech exudes a sense of confidence and expertise that audience will instantly take notice of. It shows that you are a professional who takes their work seriously, making you come off as the ideal business partner.

Ready to take your presentation to the next level? Schedule a free presentation consultation now. Contact us today!

The Overwhelmed Creative Team: A Cautionary “Design Ops” Tale

Back in 2011, fresh out of college, I worked for an advertising agency in New York City as an account manager.

It was one of the most stressful jobs I’ve ever had.

One of my responsibilities was overseeing the creation of my clients’ pitch decks, which — unsurprisingly — weren’t considered “mission critical” deliverables for the creative team.

There was never time to be idle; we were always on the go, brainstorming, producing content, and running to client meetings. The job was stressful but we were fortunate to have the right people that were easy to work with, passionate, and fun.

Over the next year though, the team began to thin. Some members left for bigger opportunities, others were poached by competing agencies, and some even started their own businesses.

Eventually, most of our veterans in the creative department were gone and the empty seats were filled with junior art directors and copywriters. 

I remember being worried about how things would unfold without some of the key employees I had come to rely on. Everyone had to step up. 

And for a while, everything ran smoothly. But as the agency grew and workloads increased, our internal design processes began to break down.

The creative team — consisting mostly of junior employees — were overwhelmed with pitch deck projects. At one point, they were unable to handle one of the decks assigned to them.

I remember it like it was yesterday…

As the account manager, I had to keep things moving and decided to just make the deck myself. 

Never did I think creating the PowerPoint deck would stress me out. After all, I’d used the tool for years to present my school reports and projects. The pre-loaded animations were there for the choosing and I knew I could find some cool-looking pre-designed templates somewhere online and simply visit YouTube for “design hack” tutorials.

Boy was I wrong.

See, the problem is that we’ve all worked with PowerPoint for years (even decades) and we trick ourselves into thinking we know enough.

Think about that for a moment.

That’s basically saying because we’ve driven cars since we were 16 years old, we feel comfortable with how the machine works.

In reality, most of us only know how to get from Point A to Point B (in most cases), and keep ourselves comfortable along the way.

We don’t know how to make the car more fuel efficient, or give it more horsepower to make it faster, or how to adjust the shocks for more on-road comfort or off-road capability—things that would undoubtedly benefit us in our week-to-week (depending on one’s lifestyle of course).

Instead, we use the same vehicle in its original configuration until it’s time to move on—because that’s what we’re used to.

If you think about it, that’s basically the same as downloading a pre-designed template that appears suitable, uploading content, and then hitting the proverbial gas pedal.

I felt I knew enough about PowerPoint to make the pitch deck acceptable.

Let’s be clear: when the goal for any project is “acceptable,” it’s safe to assume—in this day and age—it probably won’t move any needles in the right direction.

To no-one’s surprise, I came up with an almost plain deck with cheesy animations. You know, your typical box-in, appear, dissolve-type effects—stuff that causes Death by PowerPoint and makes you look old.

Fortunately, my presentation skills were good enough to outshine my unoriginal slides and the materials my creative team came up with were downright beautiful. 

But just seeing how the deck came out was a humbling experience. It was definitely something I was not proud of. I used to be so giddy presenting with the spectacular decks that our creative team came up with, but for this presentation, my deck was as good as just writing on the board with a marker

Heck, a whiteboard session might have even been more engaging than what I came up with. What’s worse is I could’ve had more hours to sleep and focus on what I was going to say rather than spend so much time on the deck.

The lesson here is pretty clear: we aren’t necessarily experts when we’ve done something many times, and just knowing “enough” is never good enough in high stakes environments like sales presentations, boardroom meetings, and keynote speeches (among others).

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on four key factors: 

1) Your presentation skills (obviously)

2) The narrative of your presentation

3) The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck), and

4) MOST IMPORTANTLY: your audience’s level of engagement

Thankfully, I had the first one—but imagine what my team could have accomplished if we had all four!

Three Tips for Your Next Sales Presentation

Here are three things you might be overlooking when giving your sales presentation:.

1) Know Your Prospects’ Alternatives

Delivering an effective sales presentation

Your potential customer has a problem. They need your product, but what you’re offering is only one of many.

In fact, your product may not even be their best option.

The goal of your sales pitch is to become the only option.

You want to start your conversation and sales presentation by identifying their needs. This is the moment you’re most likely to be on the same page.

What comes next is you telling them that if they purchase your product, their lives will be significantly easier.

Well, they may not agree with that.

As you present your solution and illustrate the benefits of your product, the customer is asking themselves a variety of different questions all which stem from one root question:

“Is there a better alternative?”

This is where you start losing them.

You’re losing them because as you’re speaking, they’re thinking of something else—lower costs, better performance, a faster solution.

This is why you need to be familiar with their alternatives (your competitors) and discuss them. By discussing these options, you provide insight, strengths, and weaknesses. Most of all, you are now in a position to understand their concerns which will inform future pitches and perhaps even help you improve your product.

Don’t hesitate to ask if there are any alternatives you’re not aware of.

In fact, asking them about their alternatives tells you something you have considered and you learn or they admit there are no better alternatives. Once someone has stated aloud that there are no better alternatives, they may be more likely to realize not buying just delays the inevitable.

2) Keep Their Eyes on You

Sales is a balancing act between compassion and aggression.

You want to be assertive, but still able to control the moment. Much of this balance is found in body language and eye contact.

Usually, when people create PowerPoints, they feel it needs to tell the whole story. They litter every slide with superfluous information.

This is a problem: by filling slides with walls of content, these assets fatigue the audience, give them an opportunity to “escape” (a.k.a, zone out, engage with their cell phones, etc.), and ultimately miss your key message.

The takeaway? Keep your copy as light as possible. This approach quickly turns the attention back to you.

You’re the authority on the subject. Making them read everything puts the onus of information on their shoulders, rather than you working for them. It’s a bad way to begin a relationship. By holding information for your presentation, you invite eye contact, conveying not only your authority on the subject, but your willingness to be open and communicative.

3) Avoid “Strawman” Comparisons 

No one likes to be “sold.”

People are naturally wary of salesmen. The less a potential customer or client trusts you, the harder it will be to make a sale.

A quick way to lose that trust is to make an unfair statement about a competitor.

Salespeople are willing to dismiss their competitors as “just out to make a buck,” attacking their motives, their value or their service without regard for the facts.

The truth is, we’re all out to make a buck, but that doesn’t mean we don’t offer value as we do it. If you present yourself as different from your competitors because you are not financially motivated, you won’t have the credibility to close the sale.

Discussing your competition fairly and honestly will disarm their natural resistance to being sold.

And in some cases, others will offer a better product or a greater value than you.

You don’t have to acknowledge it’s better to say that it’s good. Simply focus on what makes yours ideal.

Sometimes, that’s as simple as the convenience of being able to solve the problem this minute without making the customer seek out their own solution.

After all, people value the human component. Don’t fail to add your person-to-person exchange into the column of what you are offering the competition is not.

Your Narrative Is Your Map to Success

When planning your sales deck, you probably collated a list of all your important talking points.

You may have even found an outline online of how to present all that information. But don’t defer to someone’s catchall approach.

The truth is, the ideal narrative for your sales presentation is shaped by who you’re talking to. That is, your prospects’ persona.

More than likely, you’re talking to more than one persona on a regular basis, so rather than following what someone else suggests has worked for them, ask yourself how you can adjust your talking points to direct each prospect to a moment of clarity specific to their personas pain points.

Your actual pitch is only a few slides. It should cover pricing, delivery, and your call-to-action. Once you’ve moved your customer to that moment of clarity, these are just the steps they need to get what they want. Every other talking point should be bringing them to this moment.

Equip Yourself with an Immaculate Sales Presentation

Prospective customers who see a visually dynamic presentation get a peek at the quality they should expect.

That puts their minds at ease. A clumsy PowerPoint presentation or sales deck can act as a warning. Rather than going to art school, enlist the help of a professional designer.

SlideGenius has been designing superior sales assets for our clients since 2012. We’ve helped countless clients throughout the world to build presentations that have raised millions. Don’t hesitate to reach out to one of helpful representatives to find out how we can help you bring your sales presentation to the next level.

Four Reasons You Need Presentation Designers (Not Just Graphic Designers)

Why do you need a presentation designer? Because every presentation has at least one goal in mind… to engage audiences.

Whether you’re guiding a prospect through a product demo, trying to garner buy-in in the boardroom, or announcing upcoming products at your company’s annual internal conference, your ability to achieve the goals you set out to accomplish with your presentation rests on a four key factors:

  • Your presentation skills (obviously)
  • The narrative of your presentation
  • Your audience’s level of engagement, and
  • The design quality of your visual aid (typically a PowerPoint deck)

If there’s one thing we’ve noticed in our seven-year history as an industry-leading presentation design agency, it’s that a lot of people consider themselves knowledgeable in presentation design because they’ve given—and received—so many of them over their educational and professional careers.

Unfortunately, only a few are truly knowledgeable.

Very few.

And when it comes to engaging audiences, the quality of your presentation’s narrative as well as your visual aid’s design matters, especially when the stakes are as high as they are in a sales presentation or the boardroom.

Let’s be honest, most people don’t even consider slide design until the last minute when it’s too late to integrate eye-catching and attention-keeping visual elements or craft a compelling narrative that helps your audience make the important associations you need them to.

By then, tunnel vision has settled in, causing you to overlook engagement-killing mistakes:

  • Settling for stock themes
  • Inconsistent fonts and design
  • Overabundance of useless information that’s considered “essential” by the presenter

—you know, mistakes that make you look old.

Time and again, we’ve seen hopeful presenters put maximum effort into designing their own presentations (or hire inexpensive design services), only to be met with sub par results.

Let us shed light on why professionally designed presentations are so important:

1) Presentation Design Teams Let You Scale

The bigger a company gets, the greater its demand for design services becomes—both in quality and quantity. For this reason, “Design Operations” (DesignOps or DesOps for short) has become a growing area of concern for design teams “seeking to help increase the value they produce for their host organizations and that organization’s customers.”

According to Pinterest, there are three advantages to having a Design Operations mentality:

  • Scalabiliy
  • Further specialization, and
  • Safe harbor designers

Take Airbnb, a company that skyrocketed to success in just a few years. Airbnb’s brand aesthetic remained consistent throughout its rapid growth across the world.

How was this possible?

In a nutshell, Design Operations pinpointed the most important design work and tasked them to Airbnb’s employed designers while outsourcing design processes that bogged down those important deliverables to agencies and individuals who could do them better, cheaper, quicker, and in many cases, all three.

Granted, not every company has (or will have) a dedicated DesignOps team, but management can still benefit from adopting a DesignOps mentality. Because the truth is, even presentations that look like they were just thrown together at the last minute are often the product of hours of someone’s work.

Having access to designers who specialize in PowerPoint—as our next point highlights—helps ensure that specific someone can focus on their actual job role.

2) The Right Designers Know PowerPoint Inside & Out

There are so many aspects and intricacies in PowerPoint that most people aren’t aware even exist.

For instance, the morph tool brings fresh, attention-grabbing animation to dull slides:

Most people have used PowerPoint at some point in their lives, however, we at SlideGenius rarely receive decks from potential customers that scratch beyond the tool’s surface (Plain text, pre-designed templates, and archaic animations, if any).

Presentation designers (and more specifically, designers working for agencies that specialize in PowerPoint) are among the few that truly know how to maximize PowerPoint’s capabilities. They blend their design skills (imagery, text and animation) with mastery of the wide breadth of tools available in the platform. 

For instance, are you familiar with “flair” animation? Flair adds infinite looping, free-flowing graphics to PowerPoint presentations, like in Windstar Cruises’ pitch deck (pay close attention to the water on every slide:

You can see how we used flair animation to add cohesion and consistency to Windstar’s deck.

Fully understanding the capabilities of PowerPoint allows presentation designers to integrate visually compelling features to each element of the presentation, including imagery, text, animation, and even animation timing and speed. 

Everything is crafted purposefully to elevate the narrative of each slide—and the presentation as whole.

Now, should complex animation be present on every slide? Not necessarily. Adding animation to presentations is an art and can easily be overdone by an untrained eye. The goal here is to engage audiences—the last thing you want is to overwhelm them with unnecessary distractions.

That said, it’s important to stand out, especially when giving sales presentations, and a skilled presentation designer can make your deck standout from a crowd of competitors (or acquire that “WOW!” factor in the boardroom) without overdoing it.

3) Good Designers Are Obsessed with Details 

The complexities of graphic design run deeper than simply having good looking imagery.

Professional designers understand the impact of consistency. Anyone can conduct a quick Google search and grab a few high-quality images, but do those images help tell your story?

Good presentation designers keep the big picture in mind when carefully selecting each element that goes into each slide. They meticulously choose and alter visuals to mesh with one another to deliver a cohesive narrative throughout the entire presentation.

Check out this example from our friends at Spotify:


Pretty cool, huh? (Learn more about PowerPoint animation capabilities here.)

See how cohesive the narrative and design elements are? The “Bubble” effect really ties in Spotify’s brand identity and keeps the presentation consistent and visually stimulating. The mark of an expert graphic designer is their impeccable attention to detail.

Apart from the images they choose or create, elements like color, alignment, and fonts deliberate pieces of the overall design.

While often overlooked, these subtle details lend to the message you’re pushing. When everything is put together consistently, it delivers a sense of polish that’s not normally accomplished in ordinary presentations.

4) Presentation Designers Provide Fresh Perspectives  

Has your company been using the same PowerPoint template since 2012?

Do the presentations employ the age-old “copy on the left, image on the right” format?

Is animation integrated anywhere?

We’ve all sat through presentations with slides that have too much copy, boring format, and disengaging visuals.

Skilled presentation designers know how important it is to break the mold. After all, it’s the only way to engage audiences.

Let’s take the presentation’s copy, for example. It’s a common pitfall for people to fill their slides top-down with content without realizing most of it could be cut or moved to another slide entirely. Audiences are less likely to read what’s on screen when there’re walls of text staring right back at them:

example of a copy-heavy PowerPoint presentation

Concise copy is crucial because it has a direct effect on design. When there’s too much copy, it cripples the design into unappealing blocks of text. Too little copy, on the other hand, risks being too vague and will dilute the presentation’s message.

Ultimately, without the input of others, it’s easy to lose focus on what’s truly essential to the message of your presentation, missing the opportunity to engage audiences. A skilled presentation design team with copywriters can help provide an unbiased viewpoint on old content, identifying areas that you can reduce, remove, or rewrite.

If you’ve been using the same copy-heavy presentation for years, chances are your pitch isn’t as effective as it could be and it’s due for a deck refresh.

Ultimately, the balance between information and design is what separates compelling presentations from the ordinary, and a skilled presentation designer will help you find that coveted sweet spot.

Ready to take your presentation to the next level? Schedule a free presentation consultation now.

4 Reasons Your Company Conferences Aren’t Engaging

Have you been included in or have conducted a company conference lately?

Business conferences aim to achieve important B2B outcomes, including:

  • Gaining new leads and revenue
  • Building excitement for a company’s products and services
  • Teaching valuable information
  • Facilitating networking opportunities between participants

In other words, this is where innovative ideas are thrown left and right. It is here where trends are discussed among industry experts.

This is your chance to stand out and show everyone that you’re on top of your game. Whether it’s for announcing achievements and new company goals or introducing new products, you have to ensure that what you say will not tarnish your reputation or change the way your audience sees your brand.

When your event flops, you’ll definitely lose potential customers and investors.

Before you succumb to these pitfalls and put your company’s reputation at risk, we give you four main reasons business conferences fail:

Lack of Personalization

Attendees of the company conference expect you to provide valuable information and connection throughout the duration of the conference. This is where being relevant is the most important because if you make your audience sit through hours of presentation only for them to find nothing of note, just imagine how time consuming, frustrating, and draining that is.

Before every company conference, make sure you have the following:

  • Target demographic
  • Solutions they are looking for
  • Content they are interested in
  • Factor that will accelerate the buying cycle for them

The more you know about your audience, the easier it will be for you to prepare presentations and other types of content for them.

You Don’t Follow Through after a Company Conference

You’ll meet with potential customers and investors during a company conference, it’s inevitable. But, as much as you want to impress them, and let’s say they are floored by your pitch, without a follow-up, it’ll stay that way, an impression and nothing more.

If you want to seal the deal, you can’t just sit around, days after the conference, hoping that they pick up the phone and rave about your stellar idea. You have to remember that your conference probably isn’t not the only one they’ve attended, so you have to be proactive and ensure that your company is always on their mind.

Slow Reaction to Changing Needs in the Industry

One of the reasons you’re holding this event is to introduce new trends.

If you’re not updated with the emerging needs of society and changes within the market, you’re putting your company’s credibility on the line. Knowing what goes on around you make polling and analyzing the market a lot more fulfilling—it’ll make more sense if you know why you’re doing it.

When you have intel on the market, niche events shouldn’t pose as a threat to you because you’ve got that area covered as well.

When you have intel on the market, niche events shouldn’t pose as a threat to you because you’ve got that area covered as well.

Your event must be in line with current trends within the industry. If not, then you can’t expect it to be successful, especially if the attendees are there because they know what’s happening and they want your insight on certain topics. You don’t want to be a deer caught in the headlights.

Unengaging Presentations

Your presentation could be ineffective for reasons such as:

  • Cluttered slides
  • Too much information, not enough visuals
  • Lack of preparation

Think of it this way: if you don’t want to sit through presentations that have those qualities, then why would you do that to your potential customers and investors?

Presentations take time to make. It needs to read like a story, and once you have a well-crafted deck in your hands, you need to rehearse until you know your topic and the flow of your presentation like the back of your hand.

What you can do, if you don’t have time to prepare visual aids or if you lack the expertise to make one, is to hire a presentation design expert. Fortunately, that’s exactly what we do here at SlideGenius. Not only do you get professionally designed decks, but you also get to work with some of the nicest people in the industry. Apart from that, some of our services go beyond presentations—copywriting, website development, animation.

We work hand-in-hand with our clients, so you get what you want and more!

Ultimately, failure could all be prevented if you planned your conference well. Company conferences don’t just take a week to plan. Rushing and just going with the flow will only result in missed networking opportunities as well as wasted time and money.

Improve and Engage

Attendees of your event might have spent big bucks for the experience. This includes the access to new knowledge and potential business connections.

One of the most important things you should remember during these events is to interact with your audience. Yes, you organized it, but you should know who your audience is and what they want before you start making the necessary arrangements.

Make your conference fun—don’t stop at presentations. If you want to engage your audience, prepare activities where they could actively participate in.

Organize a raffle where the prizes are relevant to your brand or to your industry. Have the winners announced throughout the day.

Panel discussions. What’s better than one person talking about the newest trends in the industry? The answer is more thought-leaders. During panel discussions, various insights are shared, giving everyone a mind-opening experience.

Create a hashtag to promote the event. Have it plastered all over the function hall and have the speakers mention it once in a while. What better way than to have people on their phones, talking about how cool and compelling your event is.

Lastly, ask for your audience’s opinion via live poll. Make them feel like what they think matters, and it does! This only signifies that they’re listening to you. Plus, this gives the presenter an opportunity to pose interesting questions.

To learn more about our services and for more insight like this one, visit our website or contact us today!