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Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation

Back in the day, when a global connectivity system, computers, and all these technological advancements were decades, even centuries, away from being invented, no one had the trouble of choosing what font to use for their works. Everything that people had—some without much choice—were their hands and what amounted to pens. Getting something on paper was all manual labor, and how readable manuscripts were depended not only on the conventions and foundations of the language but also on how legible their penmanship was.
Now, though, almost everything has become digital: messages, word-processing programs, presentations, and the like. Fitting, then, that with technology came another host of problems. Technology isn’t perfect; it gave people the power of choice from an infinite number of many things: colors, fonts, layouts, images, etc.
Since the birth of PowerPoint, presenting has never been the same. Now, there are more stuff to consider when making your deck. From background to theme and, yes, fonts. How do presentation designers decide what to use? More importantly, how do you choose the perfect typeface for your slides? By answering three main questions:

1. What is my message?

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation: What is my message?
Along with that is a follow-up question: “How do I say my message?” Your topic and how you present your data are factors that affect your decision with which font to use.
If your topic is serious, then it begets an authoritative font, like the thick Rockwell or the aptly named Impact. But, if you like a quirky and light-hearted font for your topic, then something along the lines of Tahoma, Segoe, and Verdana can do the trick. When you know how font personalities affect readers’ perception, then you can easily narrow down your choices and find the one that’s apt with the gravity of your message.
The worst you could do is mismatch your fonts with your theme. Have you even seen a public service announcement that used Symbol (which, for those who are unfamiliar, are letters from the Greek alphabet)? And please, no matter what, don’t use Wingdings. Your font must be appropriate. You don’t want another case of Comic Sans, do you?

2. Is it readable?

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation: Is it readable?
You could answer that question in two approaches: font type and font size.
In general, there are four font classifications: serif, sans serif, script, and decorative. Of the four, the first two are most widely used. Fonts belonging to the serif family are great for print since, even with small sizes, their serifs provide space and fluidity for continuous reading. Sans serif are best used when large and projected onscreen because they are clear in the sense that when serif fonts are projected, the thinner strokes of the letters tend to be muddled or appear broken-up.
As for a specific font size, a good rule to live by is Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule: 10 slides in 20 minutes with 30 font size. Maximum readability even for the people at the back is guaranteed. If anything, you could even go bigger, especially when you have a single word on your slide. It’s easily read, impactful, and memorable.

3. How many should I choose?

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation: How many should I choose?
This goes over into consistency territory.
You’re already having trouble deciding one font; what more two or three? Generally, the usual advice is to have two complimenting fonts, a pair that doesn’t take away or fight for attention with each other. Typically, the best pair is a serif-sans serif combination, like the classic Times New Roman and Arial. But if you know font personalities, for the right topic and with the right approach, even a sans serif-sans serif combo will work in unexpected ways, like Cubano and Nunito.
Of course, you don’t need to use different fonts. A major point of using combos is to highlight certain parts of your content, and stylizing a keyword or an important point differently draws attention to it.
Choosing the perfect font to use on your slides is seldom easy. You could fall back to the old mindset of “As long as it’s readable,” but almost everyone does that; thus, you get the ubiquity of certain “standard” fonts that are now recommended to be avoided.
Experiment with your presentation. Answer the three questions above, and you’ve got a narrow pool to choose from. When you get the harmony you’re looking for, you can then wow your audience with your talk.
If you want to know more, watch this short video from our PowerPoint design agency, SlideGenius.

Resources:

Agarwal, Amit. “What Are the Best Fonts for Presentation Slides?” Digital Inspiration. July 17, 2012. www.labnol.org/software/tutorials/advice-select-best-fonts-for-powerpoint-presentation-slides/3355
Cass, Jacob. “15 Stunning Font Combinations for Your Inspiration.” JUST™ Creative. May 5, 2015. www.justcreative.com/2015/05/05/15-stunning-font-combinations-for-your-inspiration
Cournoyer, Brendan. “What Are the Best Fonts for Killer Presentations?” Brainshark. March 29, 2012. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2012/March/best-powerpoint-fonts-for-killer-presentations
Erickson, Christine. “Not My Type: Why the Web Hates Comic Sans.” Mashable. October 3, 2012. www.mashable.com/2012/10/03/comic-sans-history/#6J_bWV037Eqw
Gabrielle, Bruce. “The #1 Best Advice for Choosing PowerPoint Fonts.” Speaking PowerPoint. December 5, 2011. www.speakingppt.com/2011/12/05/best-font
Haley, Allan. “Type Classifications.” Fonts.com. n.d. www.fonts.com/content/learning/fontology/level-1/type-anatomy/type-classifications
Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” GuyKawasaki.com. December 30, 2005. www.guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule

Understanding Color Contrast in Graphic Design

Whether you’re proficient in design or not, you ought to possess at least a single grain of knowledge about color contrast. It’s a principle that can be seen everywhere, although it’s mostly prominent in graphic design and other art-related fields. Color contrast refers to the stark visual differences that make an object distinct from others. The polarity of black and white, two colors known to be the ultimate opposites, is a classic example that illustrates this design principle. As a designer, however, you need to learn to work on a more diverse palette that transcends these two so that you can explore other ways of achieving color contrast.

The Importance of Contrast in Design

A simple way to weed out amateur designers from the cream of the crop is by judging the way they apply contrast in their work. Contrast—whether it be of shapes, typography, or color—is the foundation of every artistic masterpiece. You have to be conscious of how you use it since it can be the single most important element that can make or break your design. Color is one of the first things that register in our subconscious when we look at a work of art. A design piece that fails to employ color contrast effectively can result to a jarring spectacle that can strain the audience’s eyes and cause them to withdraw their gaze. As all designers can agree on, there’s no thought worse than knowing that nobody wants to see the fruits of their labor.

Color contrast is important for three reasons:
  • It attracts the eye. People are subconsciously drawn to artworks that use contrast seamlessly. This principle is attractive to the eye because it creates visual interest. When done correctly, color contrast shouldn’t be noticed. When done the wrong way, however, it glares like a flagrant sin.
  • It reinforces an idea. Colors carry a certain weight, so when they’re used effectively, they can impact viewers manifold. Use color contrast to strengthen your message.
  • It shows hierarchy. Color contrast can create a focal point and establish a hierarchy of importance in your design. With this design principle, you can draw people to a certain area of a page without telling them outright that it’s what they should focus on.

Make sure to strike a balance when applying color contrast. Using this design principle excessively is just as bad as not applying it at all.

Johannes Itten’s Seven Kinds of Color Contrast

Mastering color contrast is just like mastering any other skill—it takes practice. There are no hard and fast rules, no shortcuts, and no magic formulas that you can count on. Cultivate your eye for design and work hard on finetuning it. To better understand color contrast, you need to learn its different aspects and forms. Johannes Itten, a Swiss expressionist painter, was among the first to make a theory about the possible types of color contrast. Here are seven of them:

1. Contrast of hue

Hue refers to the name of a specific color that is typically found on the color wheel. You don’t have to apply hues in their purest forms since they might clash. You can lighten or darken them to resemble real-life contexts. When used right, the contrast of hue can create a vivid effect on your design.

2. Contrast of saturation

Saturation refers to the purity of a color; that’s why this type of contrast is also known as the contrast of pure colors. A color in its brightest form is 100% saturated, but by diluting its intensity, you can abate its impact to create a better effect. You can desaturate a color by mixing it with white (tints), black (shades), or gray (tones). When used well, the contrast of saturation can be a unifying factor that leads to a harmonious composition in your design.

3. Contrast of temperature

Mixing warm (red, orange, yellow) and cold (blue, violet, green) colors in a design is also another form of color contrast. This type of contrast can create a dramatic effect, especially when one side is dominant and the other is subservient.

4. Contrast of simultaneity

This refers to the effect colors have on each other. It is derived from the law of complementary colors, in which colors cancel each other out to produce an achromatic light mixture (white, gray, or black). This means that if a certain color is absent, the eye will produce its complement.

5. Contrast of extension

Also known as the contrast of proportion, the contrast of extension refers to the effect of amplifying the impact of a certain color by placing it in a dominant spot. This type of contrast underlines the fact that colors can appear weaker or more dominant depending on their arrangement or placement in a design. When using this, keep in mind that the dominant color shouldn’t overpower the surrounding hues but rather unify them.

6. Contrast of dark and light colors

This type of contrast refers to the brightness of colors—how light or dark they are. Playing light and dark hues off of each other will make your design more powerful and dramatic. Using a high light/dark contrast will allow you to determine which parts of your design are the most important.

7. Contrast of complements

This refers to color pairings that tend to intensify both colors. As you know, complementary colors occupy opposite positions in the color wheel. When adjacent, they intensify each other’s power, but when mixed, they nullify each other by producing a grayish black hue. Exploring color contrast can take your design to the next level. Use it to its optimum and watch your masterpieces soar into new heights, making you worthy of the title, “designer.”

Resources:

Aaberg, Kasper. “Color Contrast: All About the Difference.” Love of Graphics. n.d. www.loveofgraphics.com/graphicdesign/color/colorcontrast Farley, Jennifer. “Principles of Design: Contrast.” SitePoint. December 3, 2009. www.sitepoint.com/principles-of-design-contrast

Jones, Henry. “The Principle of Contrast in Web Design.” Web Design Ledger. February 3, 2010. webdesignledger.com/the-principle-of-contrast-in-web-design

Kliever, Jane. “Designing with Contrast: 20 Tips from a Designer (with Case Studies).” Canva. September 22, 2015. designschool.canva.com/blog/contrasting-colors

O’Nolan, John. “Fully Understanding Contrast in Design.” Web Designer Depot. September 17, 2010. www.webdesignerdepot.com/2010/09/fully-understanding-contrast-in-design

Roach, Nick. “Four Quick Tips for Improving Color Harmony in Your Theme Customizations.” Elegant Themes. August 26, 2013. www.elegantthemes.com/blog/resources/four-quick-tips-for-improving-color-harmony-in-your-theme-customizations

“It’s Not Just Black and White: Understanding the Importance of Contrast in Graphic Design.” Pluralsight. March 9, 2014. www.pluralsight.com/blog/creative-professional/just-black-white-using-contrast-get-attention-graphic-designs

Corrigan, Dennis & Hoffer, Peter. “The Seven Color Contrasts: Based on the Work of Johannes Itten.” Marywood. n.d. www.marywood.edu/dotAsset/45ee9b19-5c3a-47bc-974b-47436488e792.pdf

Marketing Through LinkedIn: Tips and Tricks

When professionals gather in one spot of the Internet, you can bet that there will be discussions between experts of their respective fields. If you let them discuss, it will seem like everyone’s ideas are over the place. But out the seeming disorder are the fusions of ideas—even industries—that otherwise wouldn’t be created.

This is the beauty of the professional social media network LinkedIn. Other than feeling safe in a space dedicated to professionals who are mindful about their own careers, you’re also seeing and being seen by like-minded individuals, specifically those coming from your own industry.

The site is not a bad place to start networking and marketing. If anything, it’s one of the best social media platforms out there—at least for B2Bs. Sure, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram still reign supreme as far as connecting people is concerned, but when using these three, you’re bound to encounter more personal posts than professional ones. In LinkedIn, the former is kept to a minimum—or none at all—and almost everything is a stepping stone toward betterment of work, career, and mindset, among others.

So when you’re on the social media website, what must you do to maximize your marketing efforts? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you connect and expand.

Marketing Tip #1: Post High-Quality Content

Post High-Quality Content

Great content leads to more connections. The more quality posts you have, the more visible you are to your niche audience and the public in general. How else do you expand if people can’t see what you have in store for them?

A big no is saturating your profile with mediocre content just to say that you’re posting regularly. It’s more about quality than quantity—but it’s also beneficial if you cater to both. If you have the insight to back your posts up, then people will flock to your profile.

Connect with Personalized Invites

Automation has its pros and cons. It’s highly efficient, but it does sacrifice a humanizing component (more on that later). Just look at the template LinkedIn provides when you’re about to send an invite to a person you want to connect with. It’s generic and, although quite formal in its own right, tiresome to read over and over.

Personalize your requests to connect. It shows that you took the time to compose a message. You can say how you genuinely liked their post or their work or say that you found their content inspiring—things a default email cannot express. People appreciate sincerity.

Marketing Tip #3: Take Advantage of Customized URLs

Take Advantage of Customized URLs

If you took the time to spice up your profile—which you must—then you might as well go all the way. Personalizing your LinkedIn web address gives your own space on the platform, makes you stand out from the other 467 million users, and serves as an easier resource for people who want to discover you via Google search. Not to mention your profile’s ranking in Google’s search results page.

More than that, customizing your URL makes it easier for people to remember your web address. Instead of complicated numbers and slashes and whatever symbols are there, having your brand—or name, even—on the address bar gives a sense of familiarity that doesn’t come with the generic address LinkedIn provides.

Be Human

All in all, your marketing comes down to what your style is and how you approach your prospects. Giving your brand a face, a name, and a persona that people will recognize goes a long way toward top-of-mind awareness, which is one of the goals of your marketing efforts. And being your customers’ first option is proof that your marketing strategies are effective.

Knowing that someone is behind the brand reinforces the idea of a business entity connecting to and relating with its customers. The more you tug at and win their hearts, the stronger your bond with them becomes. It doesn’t matter if it’s a niche audience or not. When you have dedicated people who think of you first, it means they trust your brand; it shows they have confidence in you.

Social media websites are no longer just for personal connections. Business entities also use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for marketing purposes. But they usually contend with and compete for attention against personal posts, updates, photos, check-ins, etc. For a dedicated space like LinkedIn, though, the opportunities are endless. The better the strategy, the sweeter the marketing success.

Bear one mantra in mind. Aim to help instead of sell. Don’t be part of the noise that people avoid. Instead, cater to their needs and wants. Build a rapport, and they will come to you. 

 

Resources:

DeMers, Jayson. “The Definitive Guide to Marketing Your Business on LinkedIn.” Forbes. September 18, 2015. www.forbes.com/sites/jaysondemers/2015/09/18/the-definitive-guide-to-marketing-your-business-on-linkedin/#44658ad6a3d6

Duermyer, Randy. “How to Create a Custom LinkedIn Profile URL.” The Balance. November 2, 2016. www.thebalance.com/how-to-create-a-custom-linkedin-profile-url-1794576

Mustapha, Zak. “45 Experts Share Their Biggest Linkedin Marketing Strategy.” The Huffington Post. June 29, 2016. www.huffingtonpost.com/zak-mustapha/45-experts-share-their-bi_b_10375374.html

Nemo, John. “5 of the Most Effective LinkedIn Marketing Methods – According to Science.” Social Media Today. February 13, 2017. www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/5-most-effective-linkedin-marketing-methods-according-science

Newberry, Christina. “LinkedIn for Business: The Ultimate Marketing Guide.” Hootsuite. September 20, 2016. blog.hootsuite.com/linkedin-for-business

Patel, Neil. “7 Advanced LinkedIn Strategies for B2B Marketing.” Kissmetrics Blog. n.d. blog.kissmetrics.com/linkedin-strategies-b2b-marketing

Pirouz, Alex. “How to Master Content Marketing on LinkedIn.” HubSpot. July 20, 2015. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/linkedin-content-marketing#sm.0001frknxr3k3dlkqq22lsqtd9h7a

Segal, Sapir. “4 Effective LinkedIn Strategies to Master B2B Marketing.” Oktopost. n.d. www.oktopost.com/blog/4-effective-linkedin-strategies-for-b2b-marketing

Smith, Craig. “13 Amazing LinkedIn Statistics and Facts (February 2017).” DMR. March 22, 2017. www.expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-a-few-important-linkedin-stats

Van Yoder, Steven. “Stop Selling and (Instead) Help Your Customers Buy.” MarketingProfs. December 14, 2010. www.marketingprofs.com/articles/2010/4104/stop-selling-and-instead-help-your-customers-buy

“15 LinkedIn Marketing Hacks to Grow Your Business.” Business News Daily. September 29, 2014. www.businessnewsdaily.com/7206-linkedin-marketing-business.html

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PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts for Presenters

Has it ever happened to you that, when crafting slides for a great presentation, you’ve got multiple objects to select, copy, paste, move, etc. And working with your mouse is slowly but surely becoming tedious, exhausting, and time-consuming? To be fair, it’s not limited to just PowerPoint.
In almost every program on desktop, and even the operating systems (Windows and Mac) themselves, there are specific sequences and/or combinations of keyboard presses that correspond to functions and commands, called keyboard shortcuts.
Ever wondered what the keys on the bottom row are for, specifically the Ctrl (Control) and Alt (Alternate) keys? They’re integral to keyboard shortcuts. If it’s not Ctrl plus a key, then it’s Alt plus another key—or both Ctrl and Alt. To give you an example, if you’re a Windows user, then you’re familiar with the desktop shortcut “Alt + Tab” for cascading through different active windows/open programs. There’s “Ctrl + Alt + Del” as well, opening a Securities Options menu where you can choose Task Manager, among other things.
In short, keyboard shortcuts give you access to functions that are usually hard to access by mouse. But they don’t stop there. If efficiency didn’t cross your mind the first time you read the phrase “keyboard shortcuts,” since they make a certain number of functions faster to do, then how about health?
Repetitive strain injury (RSI) has been linked with too much computer mouse use. Although extended keyboard use has also been linked to RSI, an average person uses the mouse more than a keyboard. At least with keyboard shortcuts, you’re balancing your use of both computer accessories with less risks involved.
Now, when creating those enticing slides, what shortcuts are available to you? Check this gifographic to learn what you can train yourself to use and share with your presentation friends. You can bet that experienced presentation designers and public speakers use the hotkeys below to help them go through their PowerPoint files quicker and better.

Knowing Which PowerPoint Keyboard Shortcuts Can Help You Out

Resources:

Jones, Steven C. “Computer Work Postures and Injury: The Stress of Reaching for the Mouse, a Doctor’s Perspective.” Business Know-How. n.d. www.businessknowhow.com/manage/computer-mouse-injuries.htm
Klosowski, Thorin. “Back to Basics: Learn to Use Keyboard Shortcuts Like a Ninja.” Lifehacker. December 20, 2012. www.lifehacker.com/5970089/back-to-the-basics-learn-to-use-keyboard-shortcuts-like-a-ninja
“5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using Keyboard Shortcuts.” Shortcut Keys. n.d. www.shortcutkeys.net/why-use-shortcuts

Pointers for Planning a Successful Webinar

Preparation is a critical step in any type of campaign, including hosting webinars. To produce a successful one, you need to lay out all the steps leading to the actual event. It might be tempting to jump straight to the promotion stage, especially if you have a winning topic and a celebrated speaker, but no excuse can justify skipping the planning part. Without a solid plan in place, you may run the risk of delivering a lackluster presentation that will only prove to be a waste of time, effort, and money.

Planning a webinar may seem like a daunting task, but it’s necessary if you want a worthwhile output. Part of the process is creating a checklist that will solidify your strategy. You don’t have to worry about the technicality of it all. With the abundance of tools you have at your disposal, you can plan an online seminar even with limited technological expertise. And besides, every bit of effort you make will be worth the rewards you’ll reap in the end.

Can a Webinar Help Reach Your Business Goals?

You’d think the answer to that question is an unwavering yes, but it actually depends on the goals you aim to achieve. While it’s true that webinars are an effective marketing tool, they only work in certain contexts. So, before planning one, make sure it will leave a positive impact on your business.

What exactly are webinars for? For one, they’re a good training and outreach tool. You can use them to share your expertise to your target audience. Webinars are also effective for getting the word out to your customers when rolling out a new product. When done right, it can help you move customers further down the sales funnel and reposition yourself as an industry thought leader.

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Resources:

Berdeal-Skelly, Michelle. “6 Tips to Planning a Successful Webinar.” Find and Convert. October 14, 2014. www.findandconvert.com/2014/10/6-tips-to-planning-a-successful-webinar

Gilbert-Knight, Ariel. “10 Steps for Planning a Successful Webinar.” TechSoup. September 2, 2016. www.techsoup.org/support/articles-and-how-tos/10-steps-for-planning-a-successful-webinar

Sibley, Amanda. “10 Things That Take a Webinar From Good to Great.” HubSpot. January 3, 2014. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/webinar-planning-list#sm.0000w6nx4vstbcwkqnc12umt2kzcx

“15 Tips for a Successful Webinar.” MegaMeeting. n.d. www.megameeting.com/15_Successful_Webinar_Tips_Part1.html

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6 Tips to Keep Your Audience Engaged and Interested

Imagine looking intently at your audience ten minutes into your hour-long presentation. Imagine seeing, instead of eager faces, a sea of spectators wearing I-don’t-want-to-be-here looks. Some of them are yawning; others are glancing at the time. You also spot a few snoozing in plain view, as though daring for you to call them out. Any speaker facing this situation would undoubtedly be unnerved. After all, no one wants to feel like they’re imposing themselves to others.

The scenario you’ve just played out in your mind is a proof that presentations aren’t just about content. The way you say something is just as important as what you have to say, if not more so. No matter how unique and valuable your content is, it’s useless until you present it in an interesting manner.

The thing about presentation delivery is that it’s not a “one time, big time” deal. It’s not something you can apply only at the start and end of your speech. Building momentum isn’t enough; you need to be able to sustain it throughout the presentation. Since this is harder than it seems, we’re giving away some tips to help you with this ordeal.

Keeping Your Audience Hooked from Start to Finish

There’s a certain stigma that pervades presentations: boredom. Many people perceive speeches as nothing but a waste of resources. The time is ripe for you to join the few great presenters who aim to eradicate this stigma by delivering presentations that are interesting from start to finish.

1. Tell them outright why they should listen.

Your chosen topic should be something that the audience is interested in. If you want them to listen, give them a reason to lend you their ears. Unless you make the talk about them, it’s unlikely that they’ll care at all about what you have to say.

2. Give them enough mental challenge.

Presentations are neither about spoon-feeding your audience with information nor baffling them with incomprehensible data. To keep them hooked, you should provide them with enough mental challenges that will keep them occupied without straining their mental faculties. Dispose of anything that will either underchallenge (e.g. bullet points) or overchallenge (e.g. complicated graphs) them.

3. Turn your speech into a two-way discourse.

An effective way to engage your audience is to include them in the presentation. Cook up some strategies to switch the limelight from them to you. Audience interaction doesn’t come by accident; as the speaker, you need to be the ringleader of the action. By framing the presentation in a way that encourages participation, you’ll be able to keep your audience’s minds from wandering off.

One way to elicit engagement is to embolden people to ask questions. Getting their opinions will not only bring variety to the table but also deepen the conversation. You can also post interesting questions that will get them thinking from beginning to end. Also, leveraging social media by inviting your audience to tweet or blog about your presentation can go a long way in achieving interaction. If you only want minimal engagement, however, you can just poll your audience as a group. Ask them to raise hands or stand to show agreement or dissent.

4. Grab their attention with any kind of change.

Uniformity fosters boredom, so you should veer away from any predictable patterns of speech. Add any kind of nuance, however small, to draw your audience’s minds back to the presentation. There are a lot of aspects that you can modify in a speech. For example, you can change your style of delivery depending on the type of content you share. State facts with a deliberate tone and tell stories in an animated manner. You can also change the inflection of your voice to emphasize the differences between strong and trivial statements. By varying your vocal inflections, you can add emotional layers to your words.

Another thing you can modify is the type of media you use. For instance, you can shift from a PowerPoint slide deck to a whiteboard presentation. By incorporating these small changes in your presentation, you can recapture the audience’s attention every time their minds drift away.

Audience Attention Tips: Schedule Breaks Between Sections

5. Vary the types of content you share.

Don’t limit yourself to one type of content. While it’s true that facts and data are essential in business presentations, you shouldn’t let your speech turn into a lecture just because you can’t find creative ways to present your content. As much as possible, blend in some stories into your presentation. People are hard-wired to love narratives, so they’ll be more interested to hear what you have to say when you package your content that way. You can also use metaphors to illustrate a point, or draw from a personal experience to make an example.

There are other types of content you can add to your speech. For instance, a mind map can work for organizing your thoughts. Visual elements are also good for spicing up your presentation. If you can apply humor prudently, it can also be useful in lifting the boredom and energizing your audience.

6. Schedule breaks between sections.

Don’t underestimate the rejuvenating effects of a short break. Give your audience ample time to walk around, refill their drinks, take a breath of fresh air, and get the blood flowing through their legs once again with a quick stretch. These small activities will revive your audience and keep them from dozing off halfway through your speech. Schedule breaks where they apply and see an immediate improvement in the mood of your spectators.

When you feel inclined to settle for a mediocre presentation that will no doubt bore your listeners, just remember that having a ready audience to listen to you is a privilege. It’s an honor you can earn by devoting enough resources to make your presentation worth everyone’s time and effort. Apply the tips we’ve provided, and you’ll be taking a step in the right direction. Good luck!

Resources:

Belknap, Leslie. “How to Find a Story to Enhance Your Public Speaking Presentations.” Ethos 3. November 6, 2015. www.ethos3.com/2015/11/how-to-find-a-story-to-enhance-your-public-speaking-presentations

Brownlow, Hannah. “10 Ways to Keep Your Audience’s Attention.” Bright Carbon. June 18, 2015. www.brightcarbon.com/blog/10-ways-to-keep-your-audiences-attention

DeMers, Jayson. “10 Presentation Tricks to Keep Your Audience Awake.” Inc. August 11, 2015. www.inc.com/jayson-demers/10-presentation-tricks-to-keep-your-audience-awake.html

Grissom, Twila. “How to Make a Presentation: The Importance of Delivery.” CustomShow. November 27, 2014. www.customshow.com/giving-great-presentation-importance-delivery

Hedges, Kristi. “Five Easy Tricks to Make Your Presentation Interactive.” Forbes. January 28, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2014/01/28/five-easy-tricks-to-make-your-presentation-interactive/#223ff6ae2586

Martinuzzi, Bruna. “How to Keep Your Audience Focused on Your Presentation.” American Express. September 14, 2012. www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/openforum/articles/how-to-keep-your-audience-focused-on-your-presentation

Mitchell, Olivia. “7 Ways to Keep Audience Attention During Your Presentation.” Speaking About Presenting. n.d. www.speakingaboutpresenting.com/content/7-ways-audience-attention-presentation

Patel, Neil. “When, How, and How Often to Take a Break.” Inc. December 11, 2014. www.inc.com/neil-patel/when-how-and-how-often-to-take-a-break.html

Proofreading: How Important Is It for PowerPoint Presentations?

When reading, isn’t it bothersome to see a typographical error that distracts you from peacefully enjoying the piece? There’s the nagging feeling that “teh” should be “the,” that “your” should be “you’re,” or that “should of” is completely wrong. If tenses are all over the place or the subject-verb agreement isn’t correct, then that impression of the mistake gives way to disappointment and silent rage. Typos are distracting, to say the least.

To curb typographical errors, the responsibility of proofreading content falls squarely upon your shoulders. Be it a blog post, a book waiting to be published, or even a social media update, any piece of content should be proofread before publishing and publicizing, lest you be subject to the anger-inciting asterisk.

“But wait,” you may probably say. “What’s the difference between proofreading and editing? And there’s revision, too.” It’s time to contrast.

Revising vs. Editing vs. Proofreading

Revising entails the “re-visioning” of the whole piece; you gauge and, if ever, change how you approach your topic. Some of the main questions you need to consider when revising are, “Did the last draft fail to answer important questions, and does the recent one succeed?” and “Is the argument clear and understandable?”

Editing is done so that the whole piece is coherent and unified. You check the flow from one sentence to another and the logic from one paragraph to the next to discern whether the transitions are clear and smooth. If not, then rearrange paragraphs, rewrite sentences, and make the according edits.

Proofreading, the lightest of the three, is where you look for misspelled words, misused punctuation marks, and improper verb tenses and subject-verb agreements to fix them. This is the last step you should do before posting your content.

You must also check your PowerPoint presentation to ensure it doesn’t have any errors (and if it does, edit). Other than showing that you took the time to perfect your slide, it also implies the following notions:

Clarity

Apart from the fact that typographical errors and grammatical mistakes are distracting (diverting your reader’s attention to the typo itself), they take focus away from the message of your presentation in PowerPoint. There are more possible misinterpretations of a line missing a word, a missing letter crucial to the intended definition of the word (think “pubic” instead of “public”), or inconsistent tenses.

While it may be said that the human mind internally corrects the mistake, it’s still an unnecessary mental activity for the reader. Instead of focusing on and absorbing your piece, they’re looking out for mistakes just to satisfy the feeling that what they’re reading is clean and error-free—if they even decide to keep reading your piece.

Instead of muddling and muffling your piece’s flow of information because of errors, make sure your copy is clean and polished. Take the time to think about how your audience reads your article. When you see a typo, correct it right away.

Professionalism

Often, if you read content rife with grammatical and typographical errors, your judgment on it is, “This must have been done by an amateur.” Contrast that with well-proofread copies, and the stigma of unprofessionalism is gone.

Careless mistakes are always a show of unprofessionalism. It can imply that you weren’t fully prepared with your slides or that you crammed your PowerPoint presentation. It can mean that you never bothered to check for mistakes after your first draft or that you didn’t organize everything effectively and efficiently.

This is why there is a practice in any printed publication to correct any factual or typographical errors that made it past layers of editing, albeit in the next edition. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold as true for digital copies even though editing them is easier to do. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.

Consistency

Which do you go for: “toward” or “towards”? “Color” or “colour”? If you’re not careful, you might end up using two kinds of English in a single piece.

Having a consistent voice and tone is a must, if not for regional differences then for establishing yourself as a proficient English speaker and communicator. If you use American English, then keep it that way throughout your piece; if you’re going for British, then make your spelling and idiom use consistent. It may sound traditionalist, but there are critics of this kind of inconsistency. Plus, it helps define your target market without alienating the other party.

All in all, keep your content error-free. It’s a secret to crafting great copies. Even in school, you were trained to submit perfect essays and reports since having typos usually meant markdowns. It’s the same when it comes to business, only with far-reaching consequences. When you’re in front of a crowd whose decision could shape your life and/or career, you wouldn’t want to risk making the kind of mistake.

Writers live by a general rule, and it’s a good exercise of their English and organizational skills. “Write in white heat; revise/edit in cold blood.” Any word work you do falls under this rule. There are no exceptions. Not even your slides. The task of proofreading falls upon you, the content creator, and definitely not a PowerPoint presentation designer.

Resources:

Scocco, Daniel. “The Impotence of Proofreading.” Daily Writing Tips. n.d. www.dailywritingtips.com/the-impotence-of-proofreading

Wasielewski, Jarek. “The Importance of Proofreading Your Webinar.” Webinar Tips Blog. September 25, 2015. blog.clickmeeting.com/the-importance-of-proofreading-your-webinar

Wright, Catharine. “Revision, Editing and Proofreading: What’s the Difference?” Peer Writing Tutors & FYS Mentors. February 14, 2011. sites.middlebury.edu/peer_writing_tutors/2011/02/14/revision-editing-and-proofreading-what%E2%80%99s-the-difference

Wroblewski, M.T. “The Importance of Proofreading in the Workforce.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-proofreading-workforce-36110.html

Zimmer, John. “Five Typographical Errors to Avoid on Your Slides.” Manner of Speaking. November 6, 2010. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2010/11/06/five-typographical-errors-to-avoid-on-your-slides

“How Proofreading Services Can Make Your Next Presentation a Success.” Re:word. n.d. www.reword.ca/how-proofreading-services-can-make-your-next-presentation-a-success

Design Hacks for Designers on a Deadline

Graphic design is expanding. Every year, new designers emerge—many of which are equipped with skills that match, if not surpass, that of established professionals. If you don’t want to be replaced, strive to be more valuable. Identify yourself from the crowd by being consistent with the quality of your work. Excellence is important for artists like you since your job entails producing creative outputs that spark the imagination. To be a great designer, you need to make sure that your designs don’t stagnate and lose their luster over time.
Quality is indeed number one in the list of things that should define you as an artist. However, it doesn’t end there. Since the design marketplace teems with designers who produce exceptional work, quality is no longer enough. You need to add another ingredient to the mix.

The Missing Piece in the Puzzle

What design skill is so important that, without it, you won’t be able to outshine others in your field? Why, speed, of course. With the upsurge of client demands, there’s nothing more sought-after today than a designer who can produce quality work within a short time frame. Time is money—the faster you work, the more you’ll earn. It’s as simple as that.
Still, we’re no strangers to the conjecture that quality takes time. You can argue that speed comes at the expense of quality, but if you give it enough thought, you’ll see that this isn’t really the case. There’s a difference between a fast output and a rushed one, and obviously, you should aim for the former. Lighten your workload by applying some tricks of the trade that will enable you to work faster.
The following infographic provides some advice on becoming a better and faster designer. Integrate these hacks into your work process, and never miss a deadline again!

Resources:

Beachy, William. “How to Become a Faster Graphic Designer.” Go Media. June 24, 2015. gomedia.com/zine/insights/how-to-become-a-faster-graphic-designer
Cousins, Carrie. “How to Become a Faster, More Efficient Designer.” Design Hack. June 21, 2016. designshack.net/articles/freelancing/how-to-become-a-faster-more-efficient-designer
Merimee, Jordan. “7 Essential Productivity Tips and Hacks for Designers.” Shutterstock. October 24, 2016. www.shutterstock.com/blog/productivity-tips-hacks-designers
Vukovic, Peter. “15 Ways to Design Better and Faster.” 99 Designs. n.d. 99designs.com/blog/tips/15-ways-to-design-better-and-faster
“A Designer’s Time Is Money.” Affordable Printing. February 11, 2014. www.affordableprinting.co.uk/2014/02/11/designers-time-money
“Top 5 Hacks to Brainstorm a Perfect Design with a Tight Deadline.” Fohlio. n.d. learn.fohlio.com/top-5-hacks-to-brainstorm-a-perfect-design-with-a-tight-deadline

Why Listening Is the Most Important Communication Skill

When was the last time you had a decent conversation? While some say that communication is “talking to” people, others would argue that a simple change of preposition can mean a world of difference between one-sided ranting and healthy dialogue. Try “talking with.”

Hearing and listening, as is often said, are not the same. A common difference in definition is that the former means your ear takes in the information. Scientifically put, it’s the physical phenomenon of vibrations in the air reaching your eardrums; thus, you hear many things, like the whistle of the breeze, the roaring of engines, or footsteps and claps. Meanwhile, the latter is more than just hearing; you also heed and keep in mind what the other is saying, taking in the details and assessing and analyzing their thoughts. When you get the facts straight, you can answer with and/or add your own insights—and eventually, an exchange of ideas. This, then, is discourse, a conversation.

No matter the setting, be it a business meeting, negotiation, personal relationship, etc., listening precipitates proper understanding. While the act may seem simple, don’t underestimate the power of distractions. It could be the sound of a TV or a radio in the background or the whispering hum of a nearby motorcycle. It could be anything that takes your attention away from the one you’re listening to. Even your own thoughts can be a disturbance.

Communication is not a one-way street; you must do you own part too. Foster better conversations by listening because it…

Communication Skill 101: Encourages Open-Mindedness

Encourages Open-Mindedness

Sure, you’re an individual with your own thoughts, judgments, and biases (which, in perspective, isn’t inherently wrong or bad since it’s human nature). But shutting your mind to your own prejudices is a surefire way to close yourself off from the point and mindset of the person you’re talking with. Worse is that you will only spiral down to the mentality that you have a solution you can’t keep inside and interrupt them so that you could speak. This is a very rude gesture. Avoid it at all costs.

Instead, be openminded and receive with no preconceptions or assumptions. If it helps, try thinking of yourself as a blank slate, and everything you hear and listen to is carved onto you. It’s a different take on empathy, but it helps you be in the speaker’s shoes. It helps you connect and relate. And that’s when the magic begins.

Helps Understand

When you keep an open mind, you learn more about the situation and/or the person you’re talking with. You mentally process the information and analyze the details as they come. You don’t jump to conclusions; rather, you are guided by the information you received as you fit the pieces of the puzzle.

Seek to understand. By listening intently, you open yourself up to see what they see and feel what they feel. It’s more than empathy (but it does play an integral part). It’s also about creating a deeper connection and relationship with the person you’re talking with. Since there are no shortcuts to strengthening bonds, listening to understand is a good place to start.

Communication Skill 101: Allows for Better Responses

Allows for Better Responses

When everything has been said, you take things into consideration, be it the problem and its circumstances or the task at hand and its instructions. Knowing what the other party knows and feels about the whole matter makes responding easier and more natural, especially when it deeply affects them.

Because you listened, you have more insight on the stance of the person you’re talking with. You get to see deep into their minds and their thought processes. Then you come up with your responses and add to—or counter (but not argue about)—what they said.

There’s no more dancing around the issue, no more sugarcoating, and no more stepping on anyone’s toes. Listening makes you completely aware and sensitive of your partner and how they respond back to you, and that level of mindfulness goes a long way.

Deepens Bonds

Humans are social creatures. If you have no one to socialize with, you’ll most likely crave talking to anyone or anything—even a volleyball. People feel joy in being with others. Even the mere presence of someone satisfies the neocortex, the part of the human brain comprised of sections involved in social cognition.

This is the foundation of communication: the need to interact with others, be it casual storytelling, heavy rant sessions, or business meetings. Listening shows you’re not just there to talk and socialize; it gives people the comfort and security that what they say is heard, understood, and taken to mind and heart. That puts them at ease, and the trust slowly builds and/or strengthened. You know more about them, and they get to know more about you.

Of course, you’re not the only one who should listen. Ideally, communication is a two-way street. When you’re the one talking, the other should focus on you and on what you’re saying and vice versa. This is common courtesy. There are more rude gestures than interrupting one when speaking, like imposing your unsolicited solution.

A cornerstone of any great relationship is communication. The better the communication, the more lasting the bond. Don’t waste a good one just because you feel the need to talk over the person you’re speaking with. Instead, let it be a proper conversation. Listen, then talk. Talk, then listen. It’s about the giving and taking.

 

Resources:

Bush, Mirabai. “Why Listening Is the Most Radical Act.” Mindful. January 31, 2017. www.mindful.org/why-listening-is-the-most-radical-act

Feintuch, Stacey. “9 Things All Good Listeners Do During Daily Conversations.” Reader’s Digest. n.d. www.rd.com/advice/relationships/how-to-listen

Foster, Nancy. “Good Communication Starts with Listening.” Mediate.com. n.d. www.mediate.com/articles/foster2.cfm

Hellesvig-Gaskell, Karen. “The Difference Between Hearing & Listening Skills.” Livestrong.com. April 16, 2015. www.livestrong.com/article/83661-difference-between-hearing-listening

Roua, Dragos. “After I Read This, I Started to Speak Less and Listen More…” Lifehack. n.d. www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/6-benefits-speaking-less-and-listening-more.html

Schilling, Diane. “10 Steps to Effective Listening.” Forbes. November 9, 2012. www.forbes.com/sites/womensmedia/2012/11/09/10-steps-to-effective-listening/#12e324f73891

Verstraete, Mary. “What Is the Most Important Communication Skill to Acquire?” Center for Coaching Excellence. n.d. www.centerforcoachingexcellence.com/blog/the-most-important-skill-to-building-trust

Vrticka, Pascal. “Evolution of the ‘Social Brain’ in Humans: What Are the Benefits and Costs of Belonging to a Social Species?” The Huffington Post. November 16, 2013. www.huffingtonpost.com/pascal-vrticka/human-social-development_b_3921942.html

“Listening Skills.” Skills You Need. n.d. www.skillsyouneed.com/ips/listening-skills.html

“The Importance of Listening.” Boundless.com. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/learning-to-listen-and-helping-others-do-the-same-5/understanding-listening-29/the-importance-of-listening-132-8285

“The Importance of Listening, and Ways to Improve Your Own Skills.” Udemy Blog. December 13, 2013. blog.udemy.com/importance-of-listening

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Working with an Awful-Looking PowerPoint Template

Corporate PowerPoint templates are notorious for their impracticality and ineffectiveness. This is because they’re usually created by people with limited knowledge or experience in design. If you are guilty of this sin, then you should hire a slide design professional who can amp up your template’s look and feel. The aesthetics of your presentation can reflect the amount of dedication you put in it, so make sure you create a template that is engaging and attractive.
The general goals of a presentation are to communicate a message, make a point, and sell an idea. A bad template can undermine these goals and inhibit you from delivering an effective presentation. Here are some of the most common components of an awful-looking presentation template, alongside some tips on how to rectify them.

6 Elements of a Bad PowerPoint Template and How to Fix Them

What do bad presentation templates have in common? They all lack a unifying idea that marries content and design. Awful-looking presentations are ambiguous, and from this major flaw springs others. Although the following elements seem inconsequential, they can still leave a great impact on your template’s final look, usability, and effectiveness.
PowerPoint Template Mistakes: Inadequate Features

1. Inadequate features

A good presentation template should be flexible enough to meet the company’s needs. Otherwise, it will be of no use. Include the fundamental features in your template, but don’t stop there. Make sure you include not only an opening and ending slide but also transition slides, master slides, and other standard slides that can enhance your message. Apart from this, you should also provide a guidebook that will instruct and direct the presenters as to the proper uses of the template. Provide demonstration videos and actual presentation samples if necessary.

2. Lack of visual elements

One of the worst things you can do to a presentation template is to deprive it of an emotional element. Templates that are riddled with unnecessary bullets and large walls of text do nothing but insult the audience’s time and attention. Don’t encourage presenters to bombard their presentations with lengthy passages. Set presentation guidelines that limit ideas to one per slide. To add an emotional trigger, encourage the use of visual tools like graphics and videos. Let the presenters bring their ideas to life through emotive and photographic elements.
PowerPoint Template Mistakes: Poor Color Contrast

3. Weak color palette with poor contrast

Many things can go wrong with your chosen palette. For instance, you might choose a color theme that may not reflect your brand. The colors may not be appropriate to the image you want to project and the message you want to communicate. Another thing that may go awry is the color contrasting of the fonts and backgrounds. As you know, weak contrast results to poor readability, which will render your text invisible, and thus, worthless. To avoid this problem, always calculate the effect of a certain font color on the background. Finally, be careful about the inclusion of weak and/or daring colors in your theme. Weak colors can weaken your design, and daring colors can disorient your audience.

4. Unreadable typography

Typography is one of the most important elements of a presentation since it can set the stage for the content. There are two important aspects of typography: size and style. You need to get these two right to achieve an effective presentation. Make sure the standard font size you set is not lower than 44 points. This size is large enough to command attention but not too large that it looks ludicrous. You also need to consider the font style. Traditional serif fonts look formal and professional while sans serif fonts are more modern and clean-looking. Use what’s appropriate for your presentation.
When you use custom fonts, make sure they’re installed in external computers. The thing about custom fonts is that they can mess up the layout of your slides if the computer you’re using doesn’t support them. Embed the true type fonts into the presentation to avoid this fiasco.
PowerPoint Template Mistakes: Use of Clip Art

5. Cheesy effects

Perhaps the biggest PowerPoint nightmares are the cheesy effects, which include transitions, sound effects, and animations. It’s understandable if you want to spice up your template, but find better ways to do that other than adding inappropriate effects to your presentation. However, if you feel like you need to use the said effects because they offer a functional purpose, make sure to use them sparingly. Instead of the default sound effects from the PowerPoint library, embed background music from external resources. As for animations and transitions, make sure they add value to your content. Use only what’s absolutely crucial for the presentation.

6. Use of clipart and stock photos

Visual elements are generally good, but there are certain design taboos that you should avoid. We’re talking about clipart and clichéd stock photos. No matter how hard you try, you won’t find a reason compelling enough to justify the use of clipart in your deck. Nothing screams “lame” louder than mediocre symbols in a modern corporate presentation. The same thing goes for stock images. There are many staged and cringeworthy photos that will only lessen the value of your template if you’re careless enough to use them. If you’re going to use photos, go for genuine-looking ones that can trigger emotional reactions from the audience.
If you address these bad design habits that plague many PowerPoint presentations today, you will save your company major headaches. Fix these problems and watch as your presentation templates reach a different level of beauty, usability, and effectiveness.

Resources:

Chibana, Nayomi. “Color Theory for Presentations: How to Choose the Perfect Colors for Your Designs.” Visme. December 28, 2015. blog.visme.co/how-to-choose-a-color-scheme
Godin, Seth. “Really Bad PowerPoint.” Type Pad. January 29, 2007. sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/01/really_bad_powe.html
Hristov, Boris. “Reality Check: Is Your Company’s PowerPoint Template Bad?” Medium. January 19, 2016. medium.com/@borishristov/reality-check-is-your-company-powerpoint-template-bad-bf6ff82780ef#.4kkk8wijb
Mancini, Sunday. “4 Common PowerPoint Template Mistakes.” Ethos 3. May 26, 2016. www.ethos3.com/2016/05/4-common-powerpoint-template-mistakes
Panzironi, Michelle. “7 PowerPoint Mistakes That Make You Look Old.” Forbes. January 16, 2016. www.forbes.com/sites/propointgraphics/2016/01/16/7-powerpoint-mistakes-that-make-you-look-hella-old/#41da1a5234e7
“10 Tips for Designing Presentations That Don’t Suck: Part 1.” Work Front. February 2, 2017. resources.workfront.com/project-management-blog/10-tips-for-designing-presentations-that-dont-suck-part-1
“10 Ways to Spot a Lame Corporate PowerPoint Template.” PowerPoint Ninja. n.d. www.powerpointninja.com/templates/10-ways-to-spot-a-lame-corporate-powerpoint-template
“Choosing the Right Fonts for Your PowerPoint Presentation.” Documents with Precision. March 10, 2016. www.documentswithprecision.com/choosing-right-fonts-powerpoint-presentation