Slidegenius, Inc.

Designing Presentations for Accessibility

What defines “good” presentation design? From the style of the graphics to the cohesiveness of the content, every element should come together to help deliver a clear message. Whether you’re pitching a groundbreaking product to a room of investors, or simply providing your team with a weekly update, you want your audience to walk away with clear, actionable knowledge.  

However, something many creators neglect with presentation design is the element of accessibility. It’s simply natural for most people to create a presentation based on their own perceptions and point-of-view. But the reality is, that there’s a chance that someone in their audience has a disability that limits their ability to effectively understand the presentation. This reality of understanding and adapting to the disabilities of others is where Accessible Design comes into play. It’s what ensures that your presentation is understood and enjoyed by the widest possible audience. 

In this article, we will dive into the impact of Accessible Design and how it can give your entire audience the clarity and knowledge they need.  

What is Accessible Design?  

Accessible Design is centered on being sensitive to the disabilities of others and creating designs that can be understood by all. In 2018, the CDC stated that 1 in 4 US adults live with some form of disability. The following are among the most common disabilities: 

Color Blindness – According to Colour Blindness Awareness, roughly 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women live with color vision deficiency. This typically refers to having difficulty in distinguishing red and green colors effectively from one another. In more severe cases, a person’s vision is monochromatic. Globally, there are approximately 300 million people with some degree of color blindness.  

Dyslexia – Considered the most common learning disability, roughly 10% of the population has dyslexia. It affects one’s ability to effectively relate speech with letters and words, making it hard to learn through reading.  

ADHD – Roughly 60% of children diagnosed with ADHD grow into adulthood still with ADHD. Those with the disorder often have trouble focusing their attention and organizing their thoughts. People with ADHD often struggle to retain information when they are bombarded by too much content.  

Photosensitive epilepsy – 3.4 million people in America alone suffer from epilepsy, with sudden, sometimes unpredictable seizures. Many of these people are highly sensitive to flashing lights or colors, leading to dangerous falls or traumatic episodes.  

How it Works 

As a designer, it’s your job to make sure that, no matter who’s in your audience, your message is clear and delivered responsibly. But the key to Accessible Design is actually a good cornerstone of creative work in general: the simpler, the better.  

Like any art form, a truly beautiful presentation often benefits from an understanding of minimalism. “Less is more,” as the saying goes. By carefully curating your content, you allow your audience to focus on the information that matters. This is significant for those with ADHD because fewer elements mean fewer possible distractions. Remember: a presentation is a visual medium, not a novel or article. Often, the hardest question is: “what should I not include?” 

The minimalist philosophy also applies to designing presentations for those with color blindness. A presentation with a color palette limited to 2-3 simple colors can make for both a stylish and accessible design. This would rely on effectively utilizing white spaces to contrast the colors, making elements pop and easily distinguishable. 

Dyslexia, on the other hand, takes a bit more finesse to manage. Because people with dyslexia struggle with recognizing the distinct shapes of letters, consider your choice of fonts carefully. Using simple sans serif fonts like Arial or Verdana increases readability, without compromising design aesthetics. Additionally, keeping your font large makes it easier to read all the text on screen overall. 

Making design accessible for all.

Why Accessibility Matters  

The value of accessibility is similar to how many buildings are made to have wheelchair access. These facilities allow individuals who use wheelchairs to enter buildings with ease. Discussions are much more valuable when the whole room can share the same knowledge. Being able to generate a great and fruitful discussion is the mark of delivering a killer presentation.

Finally, by focusing on minimalism and streamlining your content, there’s a good chance that you’ve improved your design overall!  

Design is evolving at a rate that makes it easy to get caught up in so many new trends and ideas. However, the purpose of practicing Accessible Design is to remind ourselves that there are people out there who live with disabilities. Whether or not a person in your audience has a disability, practicing accessibility is a sign of good faith that your presentation is inclusive of everyone.  

Presentations on the Move: The Power of Animation in PowerPoint

Humans are naturally visual beings. Going as far back as the era of cave paintings, humans have always used visuals to communicate. Luckily today, we have more tools at our disposal than just soot and stone. With a platform as powerful as PowerPoint, we can create highly visual stories to captivate potential clients, partners, or investors. While there are plenty of ways to design an engaging presentation, one method stands above the rest, and that’s the use of animations.

When someone is presented with static images, they tend to take one look and be done with it. On the other hand, animated graphics effectively dictate the flow of information to the audience. Even small hints of motion will grab a person’s attention, whether it’s text fading into the screen or icons moving in a hypnotic loop.

Let’s break down some ways to use animation and the impact it can have on your next PowerPoint presentation.

Keeping Audiences Engaged  

A key reason for utilizing animation is for engagement purposes. Seasoned presenters and boardroom newbies alike know the hardest part about presenting is maintaining the attention of your audience. It’s incredibly easy for people to lose focus during a presentation when there’s nothing visually exciting to keep them engaged. We’ve all sat through presentations that have lost our attention and seem to drag on for ages. Now that virtual meetings are the norm, people are more likely to have their attention slip from their screens. Keeping people engaged is now more challenging than ever. 

The power of animation within a presentation lies in how it helps control the eyes of your audience. This can lead to plenty of playful opportunities in your design, which in turn keeps them focused on the presentation and ultimately your story. 

For example, instead of simply showcasing bullet points, you can sequentially fade in your points bullet by bullet. While people’s attention may still sometimes drift, the animation will help them jump back into the topic at any time. 

Being Memorable 

Another key goal of every presentation is to leave a lasting impression on your audience. When an audience experiences a presentation with thought-out motion graphics, it instantly becomes a point of interest. Additionally, animation adds more impact and energy to your content because it’s an element of surprise. And we always remember surprises, don’t we?   

When animation is used effectively, audiences can retain up to 95% of the information presented. While on the other hand, audiences will only remember 10% of information when it’s presented as static images and text.  

Ultimately, animation helps make your content stick out in the memory of your audience. A visually engaging presentation will leave them more likely to retain the information you discussed.  

Levels of Animation  

The good thing about animation is that it doesn’t need to be aggressive to be effective. Even just small hints of movement are enough to keep your audience fixed on the screen. 

For example, by adding simple motions like fades and slides to staple elements like text boxes and icons, you instantly inject energy into the presentation.  

However, you can explore more complex levels of animation to elevate your presentation even further. Animating content such as explainers, infographics and data visualizations can significantly raise the visual impact of your presentation. Infographics are already very visually stimulating but imagine adding animation elements that enhance the design and push your presentation over the top.  

To sum up, animation is one of the most versatile tools you can use in PowerPoint. Whether you are pitching to your next big investor or simply communicating with internal teams, animation adds a layer of flair to any presentation. It will help make your presentation stand out and create a greater impact on your business.  

Making Big Statements with Minimalist Design

Minimalist graphic design is timeless. The phrase “less is more” best encapsulates the core philosophy of minimalism, which is to strip down a design to its most essential elements.  

Designs are simplified to avoid unnecessary fluff that may distract audiences from the message. However, there are nuances to understand to effectively utilize minimalist designs.

Now you must be asking, “what makes minimalist designs stand out?” In this article, we will analyze the subtlety of minimalist design and how it applies to PowerPoint presentations. 

Understanding the Essentials 

The key parts of every PowerPoint presentation include: 

  • Graphics – The geometric elements that structure the different sections of a slide. 
  • Content – The text featured throughout the presentation.  
  • Images – The use of photos, illustrations, icons, etc. 
  • Color – The overarching color scheme related to the brand or presentation topic.  
  • Font type – The “tone of voice” in which the text is speaking.  

It becomes a game of balance and moderation with these elements to keep the design as minimal as possible. The amount of text you feature on each slide. By keeping your text minimal, you’re naturally provided with more to work with for graphics. These graphics can then consist of clean and crisp lines to subtly guide the eyes across each slide. It’s crucial to understand how all these different elements interact and complement each other. Balance is the key difference between minimalist design and simply adding black text onto a white background. By doing away with unnecessary clutter, you help your audience sift through the information and grasp the message you are expressing. 

Embracing Negative Space  

One of the defining characteristics of minimalist design is the effective use of negative space. Sometimes called white space, this refers to the empty spaces between the various elements in a design. You can use these spaces to create breathing room for the different elements of your slide. As a result, your audience will naturally have an easier time visually deciphering what are the key points of each slide.

We’ve all seen our fair share of PowerPoint slides filled to the brim with text and images. The common logic in these cases is the fear of the audience missing out on important information. However, it’s actually the lack of negative space that makes it difficult for audiences to quickly decipher what’s important in the slide. An overly packed slide just leaves audiences struggling to filter through the mess.

To give yourself more negative space to work with, you will need to carefully condense your content. Start this process by zoning in on the key points of your presentation. Once you’ve decided on what’s truly essential to your message, single out each of these points into its own slide or section. By boiling down the information to its most essential points, you’re left with significantly less content featured on each slide. The greater negative space in your slides will help create a structure that naturally guides your audience’s attention as you go through the presentation. 

Keeping Things Simple  

Simple designs help audiences to stay focused on your message. That is because humans are very visual beings. Our brains are constantly processing vast amounts of visual data at any moment. When faced with too much content packed into a single slide, your audience will just be subjected to bad a case of information overload.

Simple, minimalist designs are a way of filtering out all unnecessary information and giving audiences all they need to know directly. As the presenter, it’s your mission to effectively deliver your message. Above all, minimalism allows you to focus on and emphasize the key points of your presentation. 

Consider how often people are bombarded by so much information. It’s refreshing to sit through a presentation with content that feels curated and carefully designed. You can maximize the message of each slide by simply focusing on your most essential pieces of information. It does not matter how much you are trying to say, it’s about the quality and intent of what’s being said.