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5 Ways PowerPoint Presentations Can Improve Business Leads

When someone says the word “marketing,” the initial thoughts that come to people’s minds are sales talking, customer service, advertising, and/or social media and blog posts, or any combination thereof. It may not be wrong, but surely the concept has deeper roots than just getting a “come on” for people to trade their hard-earned cash for a product or a service.
For the better business-minded people out there, the focus of the game has shifted to customer experience, the concept that looks at consumer interactions and how your potential leads form a relationship with your brand. Extending that logic, forking cash over doesn’t terminate the connection; sure, it may be the end of the transaction, but it’s just the beginning of the experience. There’s still the post-sales service (via customer service), trust and loyalty maintenance, etc. It’s kind of an “It’s not about the destination but about the journey” thing.
True enough, the most memorable relationships continue after you receive the customer’s money.
But how do you start getting those people to show even a bit of interest in your company? It’s not like you can do so much after traditional marketing, right? Right?
As it turns out, there’s one avenue you may not have thought of but works because of its uniqueness: PowerPoint. It’s one of those functions that the software wasn’t intended for but still amazingly works given its nature.
You know where this is going: a public speaking arrangement where you can use your deck as a tool for your sales pitch. But what benefits would that bring? Won’t it be just like how you started your whole enterprise, only your audience are executives instead of potential customers?
There are a few more things you can do besides showing off your products and offering crazy sales. Conversations, arguably the best sales pitch ever, become more than just pitches. Check the following infographic to learn all about the advantages you can get from using PowerPoint presentations when it comes to gaining more leads.

Resources:

Barr, Corbett. “The Best Sales Pitch Ever.” Fizzle. November 16, 2016. www.fizzle.co/sparkline/the-best-sales-pitch-ever
Zwilling, Martin. “‘Customer Experience’ Is Today’s Business Benchmark.” Forbes. March 10, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2014/03/10/customer-experience-is-todays-business-benchmark/#50113f125011

Infographic Dissection: Parts that Make Up a Good Infographic

A quick look at multiple blogs will reveal an amazing truth: infographics are all the rage for the past few years. Why wouldn’t they? They make complex concepts easily understandable and, generally speaking, make life simpler. On a lighter side, they’re quirky and fun—almost entertaining—to read.
Infographics, a portmanteau of the term “information graphics,” is not a new concept. From the late 18th century onward, information graphics have made data more visual and more appealing for study. As such, the tedious task of studying countless tables to compare numbers and figures became as simple as looking at graphs and/or charts (which, by all rights, are methods of data visualization). Today, most infographics are intended mainly for information dissemination, shareability, and traffic management.
This is not bad though; in fact, the statistics back it up. Infographics are liked and shared thrice more than any other visual material online. The very nature of the medium and the fact that they make tons of information easily understood (without wasting a good chunk of your time) make them likable, which adds to their popularity. Added to that is that humans are visual creatures, and you’re looking at one of the two most effective and most efficient methods edutaining; the other is video (think documentaries and the like).
In that surge of popularity, many people tried their hand at making infographics. Some came out great, while others aren’t. It’s unavoidable: Mass production usually results in poorer quality. While there are still some that stand out among the sea of mediocrity, it’s better to be reminded every now and then of what makes for a good infographic.
Although it’s not that difficult in theory, in practice, it can be very different. You need skills and excellent planning to pull it off. But if you’re confident that you can create an amazing infographic, remind yourself of what you need to put in your piece. Let the infographic below be your checklist on the what and the why.

Resources:

Taylor, Marcus. “The Anatomy of Creating a Great Infographic.” Venture Harbour. n.d. www.ventureharbour.com/the-anatomy-of-creating-a-great-infographic
“10 Types of Visual Content to Use in Your Content Marketing.” Mass Planner. October 21, 2015. www.massplanner.com/10-types-of-visual-content-to-use-in-your-content-marketing

5 Rules When Presenting Hard Data

Business communication is a skill that, simple though it may appear, takes a lot of effort to master. Every professional, regardless of rank or specialization, ought to learn the basics of delivering presentations, as this skill can come in handy when relaying a new business opportunity or spreading news about the success of a new initiative.
If your career leans more towards the technical side, it’s all the more important for you to grasp data storytelling at its fullest. It’s true that numbers and graphs can lend a credible air to your presentation, but wouldn’t it be a whole lot better if your audience can understand the information you feed them? The goal of business presentations after all is to inform, not to impress.

Pointers on Data Storytelling

Presenting Hard Data: Know the Story Behind the Data
Data storytelling takes a lot of practice to master. The following list can be a good starting point towards understanding the full power of this skill.

1. Know the story behind the data

It’s unfair to expect your audience to make sense of hard data when you yourself can’t comprehend it. As a presenter, it’s your job to dissect a piece of information before presenting it to your listeners. Most importantly, as a data storyteller, you must learn how to extract convincing and relatable stories from hard numbers. Don’t limit yourself within technical bounds—instead, try to capture a creative idea or insight that will best communicate your message. By harnessing the power of storytelling, you can encourage your audience to be more engaged and cooperative.

2. Provide context when going technical

One of the common mistakes that presenters make is plunging right in on the actual data. Amateurs often don’t bother constructing a logical structure that allows for the smooth transition of ideas. If you’re serious about being an effective data storyteller, keep in mind that your main goal is to make sure that the audience finds meaning in your presentation—they must be able to translate the data you give them into their everyday lives. To make that happen, you simply need to provide context when treading on technical subjects. If you try hard enough, it shouldn’t be too difficult to make a connection between numbers and reality.
The last thing you want to see is a roomful of people wearing befuddled—or worse, indifferent—looks. Your data-heavy presentation might make sense to you, but you have to assume that the audience are utterly unfamiliar with the concepts you’re sharing. As much as possible, veer away from technical language and use layman’s words instead. Try to strike an emotional chord with your audience. Yes, it’s a business presentation, but a little touch of personality won’t do any harm. In fact, if you employ the right strategies, pulling at your audience’s heartstrings can be more beneficial than you think.

3. Let your message sink in before advancing

Presenting Hard Data: Let Your Message Sink in Before Advancing
Racing against time is not a viable excuse for rushing a presentation. Most time constraints are declared beforehand to allow presenters to work within those limits. By being mindful of your boundaries, you can control the flow of the presentation while still letting stories unfold from the numbers and figures. Remember, haste makes waste. For your message to sink in, you need to give the audience ample time to digest it. Rushing through it will only do harm and no good. Speak slower and pause for good measure. Let the audience meet you halfway at their own pace.

4. Make an important detail prominent

The audience won’t remember everything you share them, so it’s important to underline the key points you want to impress on their minds. For maximum impact, capture, package, and present the core message in a moving and unforgettable way. You can do this visually by giving a core idea a slide of its own or by iterating it throughout your speech. To better highlight your message, eliminate everything that distracts from it. Clutter will only confuse your audience, so make a final run-through before presenting to ensure that only the most important elements will reach the audience.

5. Use imagery to paint vivid pictures

Presenting Hard Data: Use Imagery to Paint Vivid Pictures
One of the factors that can redeem a data-heavy presentation is aesthetics. While there’s some truth to the general notion that no one listens to a business presentation unless necessary, the experience needs not be unpleasant. You can mute the dullness and bring a little color to your presentation by, well, literally bringing color to it. Use visuals where appropriate to make the data more appealing. Also, be mindful of the font sizes and styles you use. By being conscious of your slides’ design, you can guarantee that the visual elements of your presentation clarify your message and not hamper it.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with using charts to communicate a message, but you’d be wise to remember that there’s always a better way when presenting things. Don’t settle for cold and intimidating numbers; instead, delve deeper and find the story beneath them. Use data to weave a story that paints the bigger picture. When all’s said and done, there’s no reason why math and storytelling should be two different things.

Resources:

Crooks, Ross. “7 Ways Data Can Tell Your Story.” Visage. October 7, 2014. visage.co/7-ways-data-can-tell-story
French, Katy. “11 Design Tips for Beautiful Presentations.” Visage. November 24, 2016. visage.co/11-design-tips-beautiful-presentations
Ravilochan, Teju. “6 Principles for Making Your Pitch Unforgettable.” Unreasonable. July 31, 2013. unreasonable.is/6-principles-for-making-your-pitch-unforgettable
Samuel, Alexandra. “How to Give a Data-Heavy Presentation.” Harvard Business Review. October 16, 2015. hbr.org/2015/10/how-to-give-a-data-heavy-presentation
“Presentation Ideas: When Presenting Data, Get to the Point Fast.” Duarte. n.d. www.duarte.com/presentation-ideas-when-presenting-data-get-to-the-point-fast

Fighting Off Sleepiness Before a Presentation

You beat the deadline and made sure that everything in your deck looks right. But one look at the clock and you realize it’s already deep into the night. Deeper than you expected. And you’ve got to wake up on time the next day. To make sure you’re not late for your presentation (which is why you crammed in the first place), you sleep less hours. This trade-off might not be that great since you’ve compromised your delivery—exhausted, sleepy, and all that.
When you’re not in the best shape to deliver your speech, your slides can’t build rapport with the audience for you. Here are ways to energize yourself so that you don’t fall asleep before—and during—your presentation. 

1. Warm Up

What to Do When You Feel Groggy Before Your Presentation: Warm Up
Get your blood rushing to reinvigorate your body. Liken it to hyping yourself up or getting yourself excited—or anything as long as you feel the blood pumping. You might think that exercising will use up your remaining energy reserves, but the body is a lot smarter about conserving energy than we give it credit for.
You can get more energy by moving around. This will trigger the release of hormones in your body and will put you on alert. Do simple activities like stretching and doing breathing exercises. The latter will also help you relax before your presentation.

2. Cool Down

Shock yourself awake with something cold if any attempt to warm up didn’t work. An ice-cold shower is guaranteed to wake you up first thing in the morning, but it’s not something you should do often since too much of it could lead to medical complications.
You can splash some cold water on your face during the day of your presentation to repeat the effect without getting your entire body shivering. A blast of cold air from outside can also wake you up. Just don’t sit down in a cold room for too long or you’ll be tempted to doze off. 

3. Power Nap

What to Do When You Feel Groggy Before Your Presentation: Power Nap
Taking a quick nap for ten minutes can help you recharge when prodding yourself awake just doesn’t cut it. Or you’re too tired to begin with. Getting a few minutes of sleep might give you just enough energy to present. If you love caffeine, you can also try the “coffee nap.” It works by drinking a cup of coffee and taking a short nap afterward. Both helps get rid of adenosine, a byproduct of the brain that makes you feel tired and sleepy. Several researchers have already proven the effectiveness of this study.
Sleep deprivation also gives you a distracting headache. A short shuteye can help alleviate the pain when there’s no paracetamol around. The trick is to keep it within twenty minutes to avoid feeling groggy afterward. 

4. Talk

We tend to be on our best behavior when we’re around other people. You’ll perk up by talking to somebody instead of sulking in a corner, slumped down and obvious that you’re sleep-deprived.
Talking to your peers might give you the encouragement you need to pull off your presentation. You can also ask your friends for more tips on how they fight off sleepiness. Focus your attention on something else to help you be alert.

Recap

What to Do When You Feel Groggy Before Your Presentation: Feel Your Best
It’s best to consider different options and discover what works and doesn’t for you. For some of those who only end up getting sleepier after taking a power nap, moving around might work better than getting a few minutes of rest. Others might find that relaxing with a cup of coffee or tea is more helpful than shocking themselves with a cold shower in the morning.
Do what works for you to keep awake during the day.

Resources:

Bratskeir, Kate. “10 Ways to Wake Up Without a Cup of Coffee.” The Huffington Post. December 3, 2015. www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/09/16/wake-up-without-coffee-its-possible_n_6096518.html
Daum, Kevin. “12 Non-Caffeinated Ways to Wake Up at Work.” Inc. May 28, 2013. www.inc.com/kevin-daum/12-non-caffeinated-ways-to-wake-up-at-work.html
Knowlton, Susan. “How to Fight Sleepiness.” Health Guidance. n.d. www.healthguidance.org/entry/15792/1/How-to-Fight-Sleepiness.html
Pinola, Melanie. “How Long to Nap for the Biggest Brain Benefits.” Lifehacker. September 4, 2013. www.lifehacker.com/how-long-to-nap-for-the-biggest-brain-benefits-1251546669
Stromberg, Joseph. “Scientists Agree: Coffee Naps Are Better Than Coffee or Naps Alone.” Vox. April 23, 2015. www.vox.com/2014/8/28/6074177/coffee-naps-caffeine-science

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch

It’s hard to start a project that isn’t particularly inspiring to do. Much more if you’ve somehow gotten yourself in a creative rut, self-brought or otherwise.
If you find it difficult to come up with a sales pitch, then it’s time to start doing it differently, specifically the planning.
Working on a new project that doesn’t interest you actually feels like it’s taking so much mental energy and focus. Even forcing yourself to do it leaves you feeling tired. When you’re not up to the task of delivering a sales pitch, your lack of enthusiasm will show and affect your performance. Try some of these tips to get your creative juices flowing. 

Claim Creativity

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Claim Creativity
Stop thinking you’re not imaginative or artistic. This is self-defeating and counterproductive and will prevent you from performing at your best. People who confidently call themselves creative helps them be more creative. Sound familiar? How about a different—and quite literal—interpretation of “I think, therefore I am” or “You are what you eat”?
Bill Seidel, inventor and CEO of America Invents, starts his class by making sure all his students raise their hands when he asks them if they’re creative.
Negativity and doubt are obstacles you need to get rid of. Gain a new perspective by thinking creatively and believing in yourself. 

Take a Break

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Take a Break
Familiarity breeds contempt. For a sales pitch, you might be getting burned out from thinking up of ways—and failing—to make one. Remember the mental tiredness from forcing yourself to create? If you feel that happening, stop for a while. Give yourself a break and move away from everything that reminds you of work. Not only are you resting your body but also your mind. A bit of fresh air or a stroll around the block can do the trick. As long as you distract and detract yourself away from the task, you’ll get that “second wind,” so to speak.
Put yourself in a good mood and focus on feeling positive and relaxed instead. A cool head might be all you need to get back in the game. 

Daydream

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Daydream
If you need to imagine yourself having an awesome deck, why not? Staring into space and having your mind wonder and wander about not only serve as mental breaks but are also exercises into alternate realities. Oxymoronic, you say, break and exercise? It’s that paradoxical nature that will get you thinking more and more yet not find yourself stressing out… if you’ll think about it.
There’s a wondrous surprise of liberation when you get your head up in the clouds, conjuring in your mind anything that doesn’t tire you out or pressure you to work or even be an adult. Once that pressure is lifted, who knows, maybe the key you need for that pitch will just come to you. Or you will just suddenly think of something that will make your deck perfect. All because you didn’t force yourself to think of it.

Experience New Things

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Experience New Things
Try new stuff. That’s basically it. Experience something you haven’t before. Haven’t traveled yet? Go ahead. Never tried skiing? Try it for the first time. The point is expanding your horizons. Quite the cliché, right? But the lesson is still there: when you have a wider base of knowledge, you can draw much from your experiences. Insights, parallelisms, and even comparisons that you can use as leverage.
Challenge and go beyond your limits and comfort zone. There’s much to learn beyond what you already know, and depending on your stock knowledge for everything will eventually be unhealthy. You could even discover new loves and passions to add to your schedule and skills to your repertoire. Don’t be afraid.

Allow Room for Mistakes

Sparking Your Imagination for a Great Sales Pitch: Allow Room for Mistakes
The need to be original is your biggest obstacle to being creative. This is too much to consider, when all you really have to do is deliver a sales pitch.
Frame your experience to the present moment, and your anxieties will look much smaller. Overwhelming pressure and fear of the uncertain leads to self-doubt, but no one’s perfect. Cut yourself some slack. There’s no need to bring all those to the table. And no need to bite off more than you could chew. You’ve got your task enough as it is. Never mind the Pygmalion effect. Just go out there and be great.

The Takeaway

Swap the negative thinking with positive thinking to set yourself up for success. Another option is to daydream, imagine different things that can only happen in your head. Once you’ve cleared your mind, come back to making your sales presentation. Or try new things you’ve yet to do. Lastly, don’t force yourself; don’t be the obstacle you’re looking to overcome. Once you’ve got those creative juices flowing, try again. And see the results.

Resources:

Efti, Steli. “10 Steps For Giving A Convincing Sales Pitch.” Forbes. April 18, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/theyec/2014/04/18/10-steps-for-giving-a-convincing-sales-pitch
Falconer, Joel. “30 Tips to Rejuvenate Your Creativity.” Lifehack. n.d. www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/30-tips-to-rejuvenate-your-creativity.html
Irwin, Menar. “Creativity Hacks: 9 Ways to Find Inspiration.” Marketing Insider Group. December 16, 2016. www.marketinginsidergroup.com/content-marketing/creativity-hacks-9-ways-find-inspiration
Kotler, Steven. “Hacking Creativity.” The Creativity Post. July 31, 2012. www.creativitypost.com/pop-culture/hacking_creativity
Tartakovsky, MS, Margarita. “One of the Biggest Obstacles to Creativity.” Psych Central. October 1, 2014. blogs.psychcentral.com/everyday-creativity/2015/10/one-of-the-biggest-obstacles-to-creativity
Zetlin, Minda. “9 Seriously Easy Ways to Spark Your Creative Energy.” Inc.com. January 16, 2015. www.inc.com/minda-zetlin/9-seriously-easy-ways-to-spark-your-creative-energy.html
“How to Be Creative: 6 Secrets Backed by Research.” Bakadesuyo.com. December 2015. www.bakadesuyo.com/2015/12/how-to-be-creative

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

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

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

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

Fundamental Elements of a Strong PowerPoint Slide

Have you ever wondered about the makings of a perfect slide? Or if not perfect, at least a strong and impressionable one? Many answers are found online, and for just as many reasons, that you just can’t be sure which is correct. You could say, of course, that there are niche functions for what objects or elements you put on your deck, but does that make your slides strong individually and/or as a whole?
Blank slides often bear no weight, so you fill them up with visual elements. But being willy-nilly with what you put in there will make the effort counterproductive: the more objects in your slide, the more cluttered and distracting it becomes. It’s best to strike the balance between too much and too few.
Now, what are your options? The following elements are the necessities of a powerful slide. What’s more powerful is how you use them, vis-à-vis standalones or any number of combinations thereof.
Fundamental Elements of a Strong PowerPoint Slide: Theme, Title, Background

Theme

You can’t start creating a presentation without a central message and a theme. While everything around your presentation revolves around the former, your slides are designed per the latter. This can be a broad term, extending from color scheme to branding to even subtle details like typography and illustration style.
Choose an appropriate theme for your topic. It’s not a good idea to have a presentation about the wonders of nature but accent your slides with a black color scheme.

Title

While it doesn’t need to appear in every slide, it does mark where you are in terms of your whole presentation. It can also denote that a specific slide is noteworthy. Subtitles, to a degree, extend a title and branch out to other points, but it also doesn’t have to be ubiquitous.
Knowing when or when not to put a title maximizes the impact of the slide on the audience. Be clever with it. Wit is always appreciated.

Background

Imagine a theater stage with no backdrop—nothing to tell the setting or set the mood. The same goes for slides, even if it works on a case-by-case basis. Slide backgrounds reinforce the theme or branding of the presenter and set the mood for the audience.
Your background doesn’t need to be flashy. Even plain white can be appealing, especially when given the proper treatment. As long as it’s appropriate, as with theme, then you can make it work.
Fundamental Elements of a Strong PowerPoint Slide: Text, Images, Effects

Text

Getting to the meat of your message can be done in two ways: with your content or through pictures. With the former, less is more. A few select words can deliver bigger impact—and be remembered more easily—than a paragraph or two that dances around your point.
This is one of the things abused by those who have little experience with slide design. Think “death by PowerPoint.” Walls of text are to be avoided, of course, but having little to none on your slides can and does pay off.

Images

Pictures solicit or trigger strong emotional responses from anyone in a heartbeat. If your “less is more” with text can’t be achieved, try using an image that encapsulates and describes what words can’t do efficiently. You will see the results immediately.
Since humans are visual creatures, they process and react much faster to an image compared to words that are then read and understood. It’s, literally, seeing a bigger picture. All it takes is one look to make a point.

Effects

There are two kinds of effects that you can set in a slide: the shifting Transition and the object-focused Animation. You can highlight and emphasize points or objects and switch from one slide to another in style. Movements catch attention—a result of survival instinct and evolution to notice objects in motion—so take advantage of that fact with PowerPoint’s animation settings.
A word of caution though: use only when necessary. Don’t risk distracting your audience by overusing effects. A gimmick for gimmick’s sake will only be detrimental for your presentation.
Fundamental Elements of a Strong PowerPoint Slide: Visualized Data

Visualized Data

Cold, hard figures are exactly that. Cold. And boring. Instead of plainly showing numbers and percentages, use charts or graphs, even the occasional diagrams, to show your data in a more entertaining—and by extension more educational—manner.
The more creative your chart or graph is, the more lasting the impression that the data makes. Think of how infographics use design to show statistics: with creativity, wit, and humor. Employ the same to your slides.
Now you could be thinking, “I need all seven in just one slide? This is madness!” No, you just need a couple, like a combination of Background, Text, and Effect. Some can stand on its own, for example, Title or Image. It will only be a distraction to put all seven, so only put what you need.
Lastly, as already said above, the most important element of any slide is the overall message of your presentation. Each part of your visual aid should point toward, support, and strengthen the crux of the whole exercise. You wouldn’t be onstage talking about your advocacy then jumping to a different matter altogether just because.
Everything about your PowerPoint presentation should revolve around your message. Any combination of the elements above serve as parts of a whole, all working in harmony to inform and educate your audience. And that is the key factor to wowing your audience.

Resources:

Finkelstein, Ellen. “3 Components of an Effective Presentation.” EllenFinkelstein.com. December 6, 2000. www.ellenfinkelstein.com/pptblog/3-components-of-an-effective-presentation
Kawasaki, Guy. “The Only 10 Slides You Need in Your Pitch.” GuyKawasaki.com. March 5, 2015. www.guykawasaki.com/the-only-10-slides-you-need-in-your-pitch
Mineo, Ginny. “Your Graphs Look Like Crap: 9 Ways to Simplify and Sexify Data.” HubSpot. October 7, 2013. blog.hubspot.com/marketing/data-graph-design-powerpoint-tips-ht#sm.0001frknxr3k3dlkqq22lsqtd9h7a
Tate, Andrew. “10 Scientific Reasons People Are Wired to Respond to Your Visual Marketing.” Canva. May 19, 2015. designschool.canva.com/blog/visual-marketing
“The Elements of a Slide.” Boundless. n.d. www.boundless.com/communications/textbooks/boundless-communications-textbook/preparing-and-using-visual-aids-16/using-powerpoint-and-alternatives-successfully-85/the-elements-of-a-slide-325-5653