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Designing a ‘How It Works’ Slide That Works

Do you find it difficult to explain to someone how a product, service, or process works? If your business involves selling new products or you’re constantly introducing new service features, then you’ll need an easy way to explain things. This is where the “How It Works” slides come in.

Explaining how certain things work is one of the most common uses of presentation slides. Done right, a “how it works” PowerPoint can be effective for product demos, process flow illustrations, or pitching a business idea. To help you get started out, here are some ways you can make this type of slide work:

Lay it out

PowerPoint has several types of slide layouts. The default type comes with two boxes: The text box at the top, which is for the title of the slide, and the middle box, which is a multipurpose placeholder for text, graphics, or any content types.

For this purpose, however, you may choose the blank layout type and then simply insert the content that you need. Or better yet, as with the above slide, choose the Title Only template before putting all the other elements. To enhance the effect of your slide, feel free to choose from the Shapes and SmartArt Graphics.

Be consistent with colors

This one is pretty basic although there are still those who take it for granted. Buffer‘s Leonhard Widrich writes about how color schemes can affect our perception of a brand. The more recognizable colors have effectively been associated with specific brands, while those that were more difficult to point out didn’t have such a good color combination.

Similarly, presentation slides should have similar color schemes as they can affect the overall impact of your message.

Using varying combinations for different slides can confuse your audience. So for best results, make the color scheme of your How It Works slide consistent with the rest of your deck. This also applies to the slide itself. Looking at the above sample, you’ll notice that the color of the iVoteLIVE logo is consistent with that of the template. Apart from that, most of the imagery (i.e., photos and graphics) have similar shades of colors. This makes the slide pleasant to look at.

Take it easy with texts

This is another common concern and when it comes to How It Works slides, we can’t stress enough its importance. The purpose of slides is to describe visually something you can’t explain verbally. Why spend 15 minutes explaining a new feature, when a couple of images will take you just a few seconds, right?

If you’re going to include some texts, make sure not to mix up the fonts and font sizes just for the heck of it. Otherwise, your slide will appear visually confusing. Take a look at the sample again. While the format of the texts describing the consumers is different from the texts indicating the features (iVoteLive computer interface, Live Program Broadcasts), they still work because each group has specific purpose.

In short, they are not randomly mixed up.

The Takeaway: Engage with imagery

In general, images can make it easier for people to understand and remember ideas. So use relevant imagery instead of text in parts where you think a visual element would work better. When using images, though, be sure that they are of appropriate quality.

For scanned images, the ideal resolution is between 150 dpi (when precise color reproduction is not required) and 300 dpi (if you need higher quality images).

As much as possible, do not take images from the Internet as they usually of a very low quality and might pixelate when projected on a screen.

 

Reference

Widrich, Leonhard. “Why Is Facebook Blue? The Science of Colors in Marketing.” The Huffington Post. January 16, 2014. Accessed May 20, 2014.

Why We Are Different: Highlighting Your Competitive Edge

Today, most mainstream markets are becoming more saturated and difficult to penetrate, especially for budding entrepreneurs. This leads to companies and brands simply imitating each other in terms of features and benefits. But for those in these precarious market situations, customers have heard it all, and they’re not that impressed.

Defining your competitive edge can help establish your unique position in the market. With clearly defined benefits and features, your customers will know what really makes you a cut above the competitors and what steps you need to take to maintain that position.

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Here’s how you can craft a slide stating your specific advantages:

Say it Fast

The “Why We Are Different” slide is a common fixture in corporate profile presentations.

Ironically, many organizations use the same strategy in describing the things that differentiate them from the crowd: They use bullet points. Enumerating your best qualities isn’t exactly the best way to present your competitive edge. If you can say it one sentence, the stronger your impact will be.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll be leaving out important details from your slide. It only means compressing the important points in one non-highfalutin and simple-to-understand sentence. Since we’re talking about customers who are tired of hearing the same things over and over, a brief but enlightening slide is a breath of fresh air for their tired gaze. Try to be as concise as possible in your slide. Don’t go off on tangent unless necessary.

why we are different

Back it Up

Another effective way to describe your edge over the competition is this: Don’t make it about the competition.

Make it client-driven. You can do this by identifying your customer base and describing the solution to their problem.

For most of your customers, you are the ideal provider not because of flashy advertising or due to popular choice, but because you are able to address their needs and challenges. In an interview with LoyalBlocks’ Ido Gaver, Kevin Daum enumerates the ways you can back up your statements and show your sincerity.

Show people that their loyalty to you has perks—whether it’s in terms of addressing them personally, or giving them perks like promos and freebies. Build and maintain your competitive edge on that opportunity.

Say it Loud

Now that you have an idea of what your competitive edge really is, it’s time to declare it to the world using your slide. You don’t need to use big, highfalutin words.

Simple words would be enough, as long as they sound sincere, not condescending and inappropriate. Use images to support your text. Make sure they are relevant and do not detract from what you want to say. An effective slide that aims to set you apart from the competition will only succeed if you bring together strategic techniques to the table.

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Why We Are Different: Creating A Slide That Highlights Your Competitive Edge

Today, most mainstream markets are becoming more and more saturated and difficult to penetrate, especially for budding entrepreneurs. This leads to companies and brands simply imitating each other in terms of features and benefits. But for those in these precarious market situations, customers have heard it all, and they’re not that impressed.

Defining your competitive edge can help establish your unique position in the market. With clearly defined benefits and features, your customers will know what really makes you a cut above the competitors and what steps you need to take to maintain that position.

Here’s how you can craft a slide stating your specific advantages:

Say it Fast

The “Why We Are Different” slide is a common fixture in corporate profile presentations.

Ironically, many organizations use the same strategy in describing the things that differentiate them from the crowd: They use bullet points. Enumerating your best qualities isn’t exactly the best way to present your competitive edge. If you can say it one sentence, the stronger your impact will be.

This doesn’t mean that you’ll be leaving out important details from your slide. It only means compressing the important points in one non-highfaluting and simple-to-understand sentence. Since we’re talking about customers who are tired of hearing the same things over and over, a brief but enlightening slide is a breath of fresh air for their tired gaze. Try to be as concise as possible in your slide. Don’t go off on tangent unless necessary.

why we are different

Back it Up

Another effective way to describe your edge over the competition is this: Don’t make it about the competition.

Make it client-driven. You can do this by identifying your customer base and describing the solution to their problem.

For most of your customers, you are the ideal provider not because of flashy advertising or due to popular choice, but because you are able to address their needs and challenges. In an interview with LoyalBlocks’ Ido Gaver, Kevin Daum enumerates the ways you can back up your statements and show your sincerity.

Show people that their loyalty to you has perks — whether it’s in terms of addressing them personally, or giving them perks like promos and freebies. Build and maintain your competitive edge on that opportunity.

Say it Loud

Now that you have an idea of what your competitive edge really is, it’s time to declare it to the world using your slide. You don’t need to use big, highfalutin words.

Simple words would be enough, as long as they sound sincere, not condescending and inappropriate. Use images to support your text. Make sure they are relevant and do not detract from what you want to say. An effective slide that aims to set you apart from the competition will only succeed if you bring together strategic techniques to the table.

 

Reference

Daum, Kevin. “7 Great Ways to Build Customer Loyalty.” Inc.com. January 13, 2014. Accessed May 15, 2014.

Be Creative with Your Deck: Tips on Creating An Effective Team Slide

A pitch presentation is critical to clinching an important deal. Apart from polishing your pitch, though, it pays to prepare a slide deck about your team.

Potential partners are not only investing in your idea, they’re also putting their money on your team. They certainly would want to get to know the people who are going to make the endeavor a success.

 

GT Channel TeamA compelling story about your team can help establish your organization’s credibility and professionalism. So your team slide should leave a great impression.

To help you out, here are some tips on how to create a team slide that rocks.

Less is more

The primary purpose of creating the team slide is to highlight the group’s past accomplishments. This doesn’t mean, however, that you need to list every project everyone has ever worked on.

This will only overload the slide with too many details. As with any other type of slide, keep in mind that less is more.

One for all, all for one

The best way to present your team is to acknowledge their individual qualities before underscoring their overall aptitude as a group.

Start by highlighting each member’s qualifications for the project and showing how they are relevant. You may also give a short account of each one’s duties while emphasizing the expertise that they bring to the table individually.

After focusing on each of their strengths, emphasize their qualities as a team. Bring to the fore their capability to work together and how they complement each other as a productive group.

Short but sweet

Make your team introduction as short as possible. Ideally, the team slide should include three or four key players of your company. In about 30 seconds, you should be able to show everything about them that the investors would want to know.

Establishing the credibility and competence of your team is part of convincing potential investors with your pitch. With an impressive team slide, you have a better chance of making a compelling case for your team.

Helpful Tools for Designing Presentations

Have you ever been impressed by an exceptional presentation that it made you wonder how the presenter had done it? We’re going to let you in on a secret.

Behind every successful presentation are a bunch of design and productivity tools. To give you some ideas, here are some of the tools for designing presentations that experts commonly use:

For organizing ideas

Taking down notes is an essential part of the brainstorming process to come up with presentation ideas. Many of us, however, are not used to putting thoughts on paper anymore. In this case, a mind mapping software will come in handy. Mind mapping involves drawing bits of information in diagram form instead of writing them in complete sentences. And in place of pen and paper, you can use a software application to create the diagrams.

Xmind is the one of the most popular mind mapping software out there. It’s packed with so many features yet easy to use. Best of all, it’s free.This program lets you create a concept map from scratch or with the help of its templates. Apart from the templates, it also comes with a number of charts that you can choose from for different purposes. This makes Xmind not only one of the best tools for designing presentations but it is also great for improving your productivity in general.

For creating attractive graphs and charts

Data-driven presentations can be hard to pull off. Failure would mean exposing your audience to torturous, boredom-inducing barrage of information. The best workaround would be to use charts and graphs. Creating such visuals can be tiresome, though. Especially for those of us who are not that good with Microsoft Excel. Thankfully, there’s a tool that can serve as a guide in the process of creating charts.

Oomfo is a plugin for Microsoft PowerPoint that helps users create engaging charts in presentations. With its user-friendly interface, you can create a wide range of charts that range – from the basic bar types to the more complicated ones such as the interactive waterfall chart.

For taking screenshots

Incorporating some screenshots in your presentation can help illustrate the points you are trying to make. However, you can’t simply rely on the Print Screen key on your keyboard. Sure, it’s handy but it offers a very limited capability. For one, you will have to paste the captured screenshot into an image editor such as Microsoft Paint or Adobe Photoshop before you can save or manipulate it. For a more efficient solution, you may want to check out Skitch.

Skitch is a screen capture tool that doesn’t just take a screenshot but also allows you to annotate it if you need to clarify your point further. You may choose to instantly save the screenshot as a JPG, BMP, PNG, or TIFF file. Skitch also lets you perform modifications to your screen shots. You can resize, flip, crop, and rotate the resulting images and archive them for use at a later date.

Creating a presentation involves more than just putting together a bunch of PowerPoint slides. With the right tools, a professional presenter can make his presentations remarkable and effective in getting his message across.

Adobe Programs for Enhancing Presentation Designs

As we all know, PowerPoint presentations are highly useful for sharing information. We use it to educate, train, motivate, or even to sell. Not all pitch deck presentations are created equal, though. To be effective, your slide decks should be well organized and carry strong visuals. And when it comes to creating visual elements, practically no other tools are as powerful as the Adobe programs.

Below are some of the Adobe applications that can enhance your next presentation design:

Adobe Photoshop

Microsoft PowerPoint is considered the industry standard for presentation tools. Adobe Photoshop, on the other hand, continues to set the bar for image editing. When you combine the features of these programs, you have a great chance of creating an effective presentation.

Custom backgrounds are among the great things that presenters can create with Photoshop. While you can always use PowerPoint’s preloaded templates, your presentation will only end up looking bland and generic. A Photoshop-created background, on the other hand, will allow your presentation to stand out and look professional.

To create your own background, simply choose an image that you want to use. Open it in Photoshop and edit it accordingly. After saving your personalized background image, insert it into the PPT by right-clicking on the slide and then selecting “Format Background.”  One reminder, though. Make sure that the image you use is appropriate to the theme of your presentation design. Otherwise, it will distract your audience.

Adobe Illustrator

Illustrator can produce just about any type of images, making it perfect for web graphics, marketing collateral, and, of course, PowerPoint presentations. A vector-based tool, Illustrator is quite different from Photoshop (which is raster-based). This means it works using lines and curves unlike Photoshop, which does its job on a pixel level.

Using vectors created in Illustrator has some advantages over Photoshop-edited images. For one, vector objects are scalable. You can change their size without worrying about quality loss.

When you create an image in Illustrator, make sure to save it for PowerPoint. To do this, click File and then select “Save For Microsoft Office.” Choose a location for the file, then enter a filename before clicking Save. This command allows you create a PNG file that can be used not only in PPT but also in other Microsoft Office applications.

If you need to customize the PNG settings to improve resolution, transparency, or background color, you can just choose Export instead of the Save for Microsoft option.

Saving Files

Graphics imported into PowerPoint usually fall into two main categories: The Bitmap or Paint-Type and the Object-Oriented or Draw-Type.

It’s recommended that you choose widely used Bitmap types such as .JPG, .BMP, or .TIF files. Unusual files like QuickTime compressed, PICT, and EPS don’t often translate very well. So when you save or export images, determine the file type carefully to ensure a great looking final image.

References

Akhter, Aquil. “60 Beautiful Logo Design Tutorials And Resources.Smashing Magazine. April 30, 2009. Accessed April 28, 2014.
Bear, Jacci Howard. “What Is the EPS File Format?About.com. Accessed April 28, 2014.

How to Think Like $5.99 and Not Like $6.00

Imagine you own a clothing store. Now you decide to begin a sale for that store. Let’s say a particular type of shorts usually costs $20 per short, but for the purposes of the sale you’re going to mark them down to $15 a piece.

There are two ways you could present that discount. The first would be as a percentage. Going from $20 to $15 would be 25% off. The second would be as an absolute number with $5 off. Which way is better?

Both discounts amount to the same final price. 25% off $20 and $5 off $20 both result in the customer paying $15 for the shorts. So both representations of the discount should have the same effect, right?

Wrong. Jonah Berger, author of Contagion, explains to us that the consumers find the 25% discount more attractive than the 5$ off. While the two discounts are the same economically, they don’t trigger the same psychological effect. One feels like a larger discount than the other.

Accordingly, the next time you’re reporting numerical information, pay attention to how you are presenting it. The way changes are represented can have a big impact on how they’re perceived.

Focus on the final number.

Like the story above, most people seemed to be more enticed by the offer when the discount number was larger. Rule of thumb would be whenever you are offering a discount under $100 display it as a percentage, and when the offer is greater than $100 display it as an absolute number. This will make sure you are always maximizing your psychological impact. Simpler is better. No one cares about a page of numbers and figures that look like the green screen display from the matrix. You need to simplify your results, and then simplify them again. Think of your raw data as a pile of freshly picked vegetables. People don’t want to eat them when they still have dirt and leave stems on them. People want a quick and painless way to stay healthy, so what do you do? You take those vegetables, clean them, cut them, put them in a blender and make a smoothie. Then you take that smoothie and turn it into a wheatgrass shot. Quick and to the point. So yes, your data should be reduced to the size of a wheatgrass shot! After all, the simpler your can represent your findings, the easier it will be for your audience to understand you, which will in turn make your call-to-action more successful.

Tell a story.

Everyone knows the best stories are the ones told with pictures, so use them. Portraying data graphically reveals patterns in the data that are hard to notice otherwise Visual depictions of data are almost universally understood without requiring knowledge of a language. It is also useful to alter your tone and speed as you approach the finding of any given graph. Much like when telling a story, the storyteller tends to get really excited toward the climax or “best part” of the story; it is not only useful but critical to draw attention to the most important features of the data.

I’ll leave you with Hans Rosling’s fascinating TED talk revolved around displaying data effectively, which you can watch here

 

References:

Berger, Jonah. “Fuzzy Math: What Makes Something Seem Like A Good Deal?linkedin. August 28, 2013.

Kakutani, Michiko. “Mapping Out the Path to Viral Fame.The New York Times. February 25, 2013.

Rosling, Hans. “The Best Stats You’ve Ever Seen.ted.com. February 2006.

SlideGenius Captures Bronze Medal in SlideBoom Presentation Contest 2009

Based in San Diego, SlideGenius, the leading provider of Microsoft PowerPoint Design services and solutions announced today that it was awarded 3rd place in SlideBoom’s worldwide PowerPoint design contest.

SlideGenius, the top designer of PowerPoint presentations, submitted its presentation for the client, MatrixMT.

“We are huge fans of Slideboom’s expansive features and extensive platform capabilities, which made them the ideal solution for our needs,” stated Rick Enrico, CEO of SlideGenius.  “The presentation for MatrixMT’s best-of-breed Search Engine Optimization marketing services and its animation flow were a perfect fit for our entry to the Slideboom Contest. The winning PowerPoint was developed by our lead designer, Richmond Pagaduan, who has only been using PowerPoint for less than two years. We are extremely proud of him.”

Slideboom Contest 2009 was judged by an outstanding group of design professionals including Nicholas B. Oulton, CEO of m62 visual communications Ltd, Mark James Normand the Co-Founder and Managing Director of Impress Training, Simon Morton, Director of Eyeful Presentations Ltd. Geetesh Bajaj, Julie Terberg, Owner of Terberg Design and Shawn Toh a Microsoft MVP for PowerPoint (Most Valuable Professional) and a certified Microsoft Office Specialist.

Slideboom Contest 2009

The SlideBoom Presentation Contest 2009 took place from 18 May – 21 June 2009.  Contest participants submitted slideshows on Business, Education, Career and other interesting subjects.  This contest became a unique opportunity for many participants to reveal their creative potential and display the expertise of their presentations. Over 180 people who joined the Contest Group enjoyed close to 70 works submitted. Most of them are full of outstanding effects and lovely animations all created in PowerPoint.