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Leave Design to the Professionals: Hiring Trained PowerPoint Designers

Graphic design is an often-misunderstood aspect when running a business. The uninitiated assume that designs, be it logos or marketing content, can be created easily and quickly. These are deadly assumptions to make considering the significant role graphic design plays in branding. Companies with rock solid offerings can risk floundering in competitive markets if their designs look cheap or unappealing. Graphic designers are highly skilled professionals capable of strengthening a brand’s image.   

In this article, we will focus on an overlooked aspect of branding: PowerPoint presentation design. Discover how the work of a professional PowerPoint designer can help reshape the way your business is perceived in the boardroom.

Designers Deliver Messages Visually 

PowerPoint design is more than simply creating aesthetically pleasing slides. Professional designers are experts of visual communication. They can take heaps of bland looking data, like monthly sales reports, financial projections, or survey results, and transform them into more visually engaging pieces of content. Their discerning eye for information helps them filter out anything that serves no value to the design and message of the presentation.  

Ever felt like your presentation has too much text? Often, it probably does. Text heavy slides are still one of the most common problem most people make when creating their own pitch presentation. Professional designers are keener on showing over telling. They effectively utilize visual design elements to convey messages with only a fraction of text. This decreases clutter on the slides, making it easier for audience to interpret what being presented.  

Controlling the Flow of Information 

When in the hands of someone with little to no design skills, it’s very common to see the slides looking haphazardly put together with no sense of flow. Overwhelming information muddies your intended message. What good would all that information be if your audience can’t even make sense of it? 

Presentation designers deliberately take control of the flow of information. From the colors, text composition, and pictures/graphics, every element serves the purpose of being more visually intuitive. It’s a matter of using these visual cues to draw the attention of someone’s eyes. They effectively put all these elements together to ensure that your audience keys into every piece of relevant information without feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Save Yourself the Headaches  

There’s plenty at play when creating an effective PowerPoint. Which template should you use? Should the presentation have animations? Which visuals, tables, and graphs best illustrate your points? Professional designers can answer all these questions for you with ease. Their experience allows them to know what styles and visual flair work for every kind of presentation. Their knowledge of the ins and outs of PowerPoint enable them to fully maximize the capabilities of the program.  

In times when you simply have too much work on your plate to handle creating another presentation, professional PowerPoint designers can bear that load. More so, their highly developed skills in the matter ensures a greater final product than what you could have accomplished on your own. Having designers handle creating your presentation gives you the extra time and energy to focus on areas that better fit your own expertise.  

We Are SlideGenius, Your Valuable Partner  

As a start-up presentation design company since 2012, we’ve experienced our fair share of work and productivity struggles. In fact, our full team is split between four different offices around the world. Meaning, we all work “remotely” from one another daily. These barriers have become normal for us, but we continuously adapt and overcome. What pulls us together is our shared passion for helping our clients succeed. From our artists, writers, web developers, animators, and project managers, we utilize our expertise in presentation design to spark invaluable growth.  

At SlideGenius, we are eager to be a valuable partner to all who needs our services during this challenging time. Contact us today for all your presentation needs! 

Five Scenarios that Call for Outsourced Graphic Design

Outsourcing is a polarizing topic.

Some companies are staunchly against it, while others readily delegate work to partners and independent contractors alike.

For skilled tasks like graphic design, outsourcing is almost inevitable.

In these cases, it’s best to embrace the benefits of outsourcing, no matter your stance.

Outsourcing Is Trending

It might surprise you to learn that more companies are outsourcing graphic design work than ever before—and not necessarily under the duress of a heavy workload.

Choosing to outsource graphic design has some great benefits. Plus, it’s easier than ever thanks to the gig economy.

In the age of remote work and side hustles, finding a qualified graphic designer (or team of designers) for an affordable price takes minutes.

You might hop on a freelancer bidding website, contact a friend of a friend, or search the web for a trustworthy partner. Thankfully, there are few-to-no barriers to outsourcing, which has made it a viable solution for many companies in managing their workflow.

The Top Reasons Companies Outsource

Why outsource?

Every company has its own reasons, and different situations call for different solutions. To understand why outsourced graphic design is such a booming trend, take a look at some of the top survey answers from major companies:

  • 59% – Reduce/control costs
  • 57% – Focus on core functions
  • 47% – Solve capacity issues
  • 31% – Improve services
  • 28% – Gain access to expert talent and knowledge
  • 17% – Manage the business environment
  • 17% – Accelerate organizational transformation

From the numbers, outsourcing is often the function of cost control and task delegation.

Companies need a way to get quality collateral fast, without hampering their already-busy production teams. These are all valid reasons for seeking outsourced graphic design help, but it’s important to recognize the many other situations that might call for a helping hand.

Recognize Outsourcing Opportunities

It’s not always easy to recognize outsourcing as a solution. Here are some of the most common scenarios companies run up against and why outsourcing graphic design is the most viable solution.

Scenario 1: You need to cut costs

There’s a misconception that outsourcing is more expensive than in-house graphic design.

This simply isn’t true in most situations.

Consider the cost of a full-time salary and benefits packages, versus the cost of delegating a set number of hours out to someone. On average, a graphic designer pulls in around $45,000 per year.

That’s a major expense and you have every right to balk at the cost.

An outsourced specialist ultimately costs less than an in-house employee and will likely accomplish more in less time, instilling more total value in your cost per project.

Scenario 2: You’re growing and your internal design team is overwhelmed

Working at-scale is hard when you’re growing.

You might have more work than four graphic designers can handle, but not enough to justify bringing on a fifth person—it’s workflow purgatory!

Outsourcing graphic design as an intermediary measure allows you to function at-scale, without straining your operations to prematurely accommodate more staff.

With outsourcing, designers are there when you need it and gone when you don’t:

Download the full diagram here.

As the diagram above shows, if you ever experience #1 or #3, you should consider outsourcing graphic design to a trusted partner.

It’s the ultimate in flexibility.

Scenario 3: You’ve hired your first dedicated marketing person

A dedicated marketing manager is the first step to a robust marketing team—but they’re still only one person.

No matter how talented they are, they don’t have time to create and coordinate collateral. Let them focus on the administrative tasks crucial to campaign execution. Being able to focus on tact and strategy is what ultimately lifts your campaigns to success.

Leave content and collateral creation to a specialist.

Scenario 4: Your internal design team is getting burned out

Repetition is a precursor to burnout. If your in-house team works on the same projects over and over again with little deviation, they will stagnate and fizzle.

Outsourcing these repetitive and monotonous graphic design tasks is a win-win for everyone.

Your in-house team gets diversity and exposure to new projects. An outsourced specialist, on the other hand, gets consistent work they understand and can plan for.

Scenario 5: Your internal marketing team needs specialized support

Once in awhile, there’s a project above the pay grade of your in-house team (we see this a lot when it comes to incorporating presentation animation).

Instead of turning the project away, consider outsourcing.

It’s easy to meet the demands of the project when you have an entire world of skilled professionals to pick from. They’re able to help you deliver a quality result, without serving in a full-time capacity.

Like this post? Check out our “How to Effectively Support Busy Graphic Design Teams” guide:

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Conclusion

No matter your feelings about outsourcing work, it’s important to recognize the benefits associated with it.

Every business is likely to encounter a situation in which outsourcing is the answer. When they do, having the wherewithal to turn to a outsourced designer can be the difference between success and hardship.

Keep an eye out for opportunities to improve capacity, cut costs, and control workflow by outsourcing graphic designers.

Capitalizing on these opportunities and utilizing an outsourced graphic design solution will put your business in a position to keep moving forward, full steam ahead with marketing and branding goals.

Ready to start your journey to presentation perfection? Schedule a free presentation consultation now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I remember it like it was yesterday…

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

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

Boy was I wrong.

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

Think about that for a moment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1) Your presentation skills (obviously)

2) The narrative of your presentation

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

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

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

Are Visuals in Business Presentations Actually Helpful?

Visual aids upgrade your speech, as the combination of content and design add flare to your presentation. These make your pitch more understandable and allow your audience to follow the discussion with their eyes.

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Before making a customized PowerPoint presentation, your goals must be clear—you should be sure of the message you want to convey. When you have a plan, you’ll know what you have to work on to achieve your objectives.

So what exactly is so important about visual aids that it’s imperative that you prepare one for your business presentation?

It conveys the message loud and clear.

Visuals help you catch your audience’s attention and engage them throughout your presentation. With these, you can communicate complex ideas in an understandable way. Rather than “telling,” you’re “showing” the audience exactly what you want to say, allowing them to make connections on their own—given that the graphics you use are relevant to your discussion.

Approximately three-quarters of adults in America own a smartphone, making it one of the most quickly adopted consumer technologies to date. Apart from this, they spend almost five hours on their phones. Why is this number important?

As a presenter, you’d want to keep your audience’s eyes on you. So, to keep their attention off their phones, you have to make your visual aids appealing. Add graphics, images, and animations relevant to the topic at hand and you’re good to go.

It elicits emotions.

Images are highly subjective. That said, there are certain categories that are more likely to elicit strong emotional responses compared to others. Images can help establish a long-term connection with the hearts and minds of your audience.

Rather than using bullet points, images that resonate with the audience inspire them to act. Plus, this makes it easier for them to retain information for a longer period.

It saves processing time.

A picture paints a thousand words and it holds true to this day. Using visuals relevant to your presentation is less time-consuming compared to writing a few hundred words. Apart from that, you’d only need to make sure that what you say revolves around that.

In addition, because your audience’s brain works overtime to process all the information fed to them, visuals prove to be the most efficient way to make your discussion easier to understand.

Your visual aids shouldn’t distract your audience, but rather help them reach the core of your presentation. These can either make or break their first impression of what you are pitching and you as a presenter. Simplicity is key when it comes to customized PowerPoint presentations—the best way to keep your audience’s attention is by removing clutter.

Nothing else maximizes efficiency and effectiveness quite like professionally designed visual aids, but take note: you may have the best PowerPoint design, but its purpose is only to add interest and enhance the way you convey your message. You’re still the star of the show, which is why you still have to do well with your speech.

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References:

Miltner, Olivia. “You’re Not Addicted to Your Smartphone – You Just Really Like People.” OZY. April 1, 2018. www.ozy.com/acumen/youre-not-addicted-to-your-smartphone-you-just-really-like-people/85737

Tierney, Leah. “6 Types of Images That Elicit an Emotional Response.” Shutterstock. May 5, 2017. www.shutterstock.com/blog/6-types-of-images-that-elicit-an-emotional-response

“Using Visual Aids.” University of Pittsburgh. www.speaking.pitt.edu/student/public-speaking/visualaids.html

Why White Space Looks Good in Presentation Design

Amateur designers tend to overdo their work. They cram every good idea they have into one design, leaving no area untouched. In their determination to not waste any space, they end up creating a noisy composition that buries the most important graphic elements. The result? Clutter, confusion, and chaos.

Fixing a sloppy work is simple in principle, although it’s not exactly easy to execute. As a graphic designer, all you need to do is maximize the use of an element called “white space,” which is a misnomer because it doesn’t necessarily refer to a white space. In fact, it can be any color, texture, or pattern, as long as it’s an unmarked area that makes the crucial points of a composition stand out.

White space is also known as “negative space” because it makes the “positive space” pop by shrinking in the background and remaining there unnoticed. Its general purpose is to provide a breather for the eyes so that viewers can easily scan a page and find what they need. Still, despite the crucial role that this element plays, it’s still overlooked and underrated at times.

Let’s give white space its own deserved spotlight. Let’s look at it not only from an aesthetic angle but also from a practical perspective. What do you say?

The Two Levels of White Space

There are two levels of white space according to density, ratio, proportion, and general purpose: macro and micro.

  • Macro White Space. Obviously, macro white space is larger in volume compared to its counterpart. Plus, it’s easier to notice because it occupies the bigger portion of a given space. Its main purpose is to emphasize the focal points in a composition and give them structure, and its asymmetrical nature allows it to lend any work a more dynamic and candid look.
  • Micro White Space. This refers to the white space that exists naturally between letters, words, lines, grid images, and other smaller graphic elements. Its main purpose is to direct the flow and order of the content to make for a legible and neat composition.

The Advantages of Using White Space

You’d think the advantages of using white space are obvious, but some presentation designers still overlook them. For good measure, go over them here again to fully internalize the importance of this presentation design element.

1. Improves readability and comprehension

The average attention span of a human being is not as long as it used to be, so if you want to attract and keep your viewers’ attention, you need to give them a good reason to stay. One way to do this is by making it easy for them to navigate through your content. Reduce clutter and design a slide in such a way that the viewers can easily find what they’re looking for. Aim for better comprehension and readability. When people have a full grasp of what you’re trying to communicate, they’re more likely to stay and find out what else you have in store for them.

2. Draws the eyes to the most important points

When used properly, white space can minimize distractions and draw the eyes to the presentation’s central points. The human brain tends to put emphasis on design elements surrounded by white space since they essentially cue the audience as to where they should be looking. When you use white space to lead users from one design element to another, you can sell your main points faster and more effectively.

3. Adds a sense of superiority to the design

In the age of digital media, first impressions matter so much more than ever before. To imprint a good brand image on the mind of your audience, you should master the art of simplicity and minimalism. By using white space liberally and masterfully, you can lend finesse and elegance to your PowerPoint deck. Just take Apple and Starbucks for example. These brands glorify the “less is more” principle, and as a result, their products are considered as the paragon of luxury and sophistication.

On the other hand, less effective presentations tend to cram a hodgepodge of things into one tight space. Too many elements clashing with one another tends to cheapen a slide deck’s overall look. Remember, a tidy and uncluttered space looks more impressive than a heavily packed one. Give your content some breathing space and let it speak for itself.

4. Strikes a balance between texts and images

While the lack of white space results to confusion, an excess of it gives off the impression of incompleteness. Be mindful of how you apply white space lest you look incompetent by under- or overusing it. Aim to strike a balance between the different elements in your presentation design. Keep in mind what Mads Soegaard, the editor-in-chief in The Interaction Design Foundation, said, “White space is a great tool to balance design elements and better organize content to improve the visual communication experience…. For that, the white space is the real star of the show, working between the words and the pictures. It keeps each page from looking busy.”

So, there you have it—everything you need to know to care about white space. Now equipped with such knowledge, you shouldn’t look at this design element as “empty space” anymore. Your improved understanding of the role of white space in presentation design should allow you to put it into better use. Remember, the things you leave out are just as important as those you use.

Resources:

Cao, Jerry, et al. “Why White Space is Crucial to UX Design.” Fast Company Design. May 28, 2015. www.fastcodesign.com/3046656/why-white-space-is-crucial-to-ux-design

Lana, Michelle. “Why Whitespace Is So Important in Web Design.” Segue Technologies. September 10, 2015. www.seguetech.com/whitespace-web-design

Soegaard, Mads. “The Power of White Space.” Interaction Design Foundation. n.d. www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/the-power-of-white-space

Turnbull, Connor. “Using White Space (or Negative Space) in Your Designs.” Envato Tuts Plus. July 19, 2011. webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/using-white-space-or-negative-space-in-your-designs–webdesign-3401

“White Space in Graphic Design, and Why It’s Important.” Printwand. n.d. www.printwand.com/blog/white-space-in-graphic-design-and-why-its-important

Videos: How Can They Improve Your Presentation?

We can no longer ignore the growing hype around videos. These electronic media are gaining traction, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they soon become the most popular type of content, since more social media channels are popping up to underline their importance. Today, the effectiveness of videos in capturing people’s attention is apparent. In YouTube, for example, 400 hours of videos are uploaded every minute and almost 5 billion are viewed every day. These staggering statistics show that we create and consume video content in a rapidly increasing rate.

Still, while all this hype around videos is nice, we can’t really claim that it’s something new. Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple Inc., included this medium in his presentations as early as 1984. The potential of videos as the trendiest type of content will continue to grow, so if you haven’t explored the possibilities of video marketing, now is the time.

The Purposes of Using Videos in Presentations


Isn’t it ironic that although most marketers recognize video content as a powerful tool, only four percent use it religiously in presentations? That leaves a glaring 96 percent in the dark, stuck in traditional methods that are only half as effective as video marketing. This isn’t to say that you should add a video in every presentation—of course, if it isn’t appropriate, do away with it. But if you find an opportunity to use this type of content to support or highlight your message, why not grab it?

Here are the four main purposes of adding videos in your presentation:

  • To explain a complex idea. It’s hard to explain a technical idea to a group of people who know nothing about it. Sure, you can put that idea into words, but you can’t guarantee that your equally perplexing explanation will translate into something cohesive in the audience’s mind. If it’s too complicated to grasp, why not find another means of expressing it? Perhaps a video could render it more comprehensible?
  • To engage the audience in discussion. Videos have a certain pull that makes them effective in grabbing people’s attention. A relevant video presented at the right moment can keep the audience bolted to the screen. Make sure that the video you use can establish an emotional connection with your audience and can generate a meaningful discussion that will fire up their energy.
  • To break the monotony. You can’t expect the audience to listen to you for hours on end. Their attention is bound to wane at some point, and one way to recapture their interest is by giving them a break in the form of a video to watch. If possible, inject humor in your presentation to lighten up the mood and make room for a seamless transition.
  • To help in memory retention. An experiment conducted by Dr. Richard Mayer from the University of California, Santa Barbara revealed that people immersed in “multi-sensory environments” had better recall even years after a presentation. This is because when the human brain builds two mental representations of something (i.e. a verbal and a visual model), it typically results to better memory retention.

Things to Remember When Adding Videos to Your Slides

You’d think that adding a video to a presentation is a piece of cake, but some people still seem to miss the basics. To make sure that you do things right, take these pointers:

1. Embed the video in the presentation itself

Think of how unprofessional it would look to show the audience a video separate from the original presentation. You’d look like an amateur who didn’t bother to assemble your knowledgebase in one place. Plus, it would be inconvenient on your part when switching from one to the other, so it’s only practical and professional to insert the video in the presentation itself. In PowerPoint, you can embed a video directly in the slides to make for a smoother transition.

2. Keep it short and simple

Videos are meant to enhance your presentation, not replace it. That’s why you should only designate a short chunk of time for this type of content. Otherwise, you’ll lose your connection with the audience and destroy your momentum. An effective video presentation shouldn’t make the audience forget that you’re the main source and “relayer” of information.

Things to Remember When Adding a Video in Your Presentation: Keep it Short and Simple

3. Lean towards the authentic

People are more interested in realistic videos that reflect genuine experiences than in corporate ones that are too alien to relate with. To add a dab of authenticity in your videos, you can use testimonials that feature real customers who truly value and uphold your brand. Testimonials, especially when unsolicited, are a persuasive tool for inviting more people to consider your message.

4. Check its relevance to the topic

Relevance is the number one criteria when adding video clips in a presentation. You can’t just throw in anything that doesn’t relate to the points you’re trying to make. Every video clip must have a purpose—and that purpose should have something to do with underlining your core message.

5. Use narratives to draw emotional responses

Everyone responds to narratives. Stories have a certain quality that evokes emotional responses from people. A video content structure that follows a narrative can make for a more compelling presentation that will allow the audience to make sense of abstract ideas that would otherwise be lost in translation.

Now you know the secret to making your next pitch stand out. Use videos more wisely in your next presentation, and see the difference in your audience’s level of energy and engagement.

Resources:

Bell, Steven J. “Using Video in Your Next Presentation: A Baker’s Dozen of Ideas and Tips.” Info Today. n.d. www.infotoday.com/cilmag/jul10/Bell.shtml

Blodget, Henry. “The Lost 1984 Video: Steve Jobs Introduces the Mac.” Business Insider. August 25, 2011. www.businessinsider.com/video-steve-jobs-introduces-mac-2011-8

Boone, Rob. “How and Why You Should Use Video in Your Next Presentation.” Live Slides. January 22, 2016. www.liveslides.com/blog/how-to-use-video-in-presentations

Gallo, Carmine. “Four Easy Tips on Using Video to Make Your Presentation Stand Out.” Forbes. January 31, 2017. www.forbes.com/sites/carminegallo/2017/01/31/four-easy-tips-on-using-video-to-make-your-presentation-stand-out/#2ed99f26e3a0

Marshall, Lisa B. “How to Use Video in a Presentation.” Quick and Dirty Tips. August 9, 2012. www.quickanddirtytips.com/business-career/public-speaking/how-to-use-video-in-a-presentation

“3 Reasons to Add Video to Your Presentation.” Meetings Imagined. n.d. www.meetingsimagined.com/tips-trends/3-reasons-add-video-your-presentation

“36 Mind-blowing YouTube Facts, Figures, and Statistics 2017.” Fortunelords. March 23, 2017.

6 Things to Watch Out for During Presentation Q&As

“By doubting we are led to question, by questioning we arrive at the truth,” said Peter Abelard. The French philosopher and theologian certainly knew what he was talking about.

At the end of any presentation comes the ever-present Q&A session. It’s never not present. You don’t just present and walk away. There will always be members of the audience who will ask for clarifications and/or just want to understand more.

And it’s your job to answer them. You’re already there onstage, presumably with a great visual aid you or an awesome PowerPoint design agency created, and you’re the one they’re addressing their questions to. Not to mention that your presentation made them think of these queries. If you don’t respond, apart from not getting the answers the audience wanted, it also makes you look unprofessional. Let’s set the difference though: purposefully not answering is not the same as not knowing the answer.

So what mistakes should you avoid during Q&As? Or at least keep in check? Here are some of them:

Presentation Matters: Question and answer

Silence

This can come from both sides: presenter and audience. It’s either they have no or no more questions or the presenter takes a long time to answer. Either way, silence can make the whole mood awkward.

If you’re having a mental block after the question is given, take a moment and pause. If you still don’t have an answer after a few seconds, you can always say, “Excuse me, but let me gather my thoughts for a few more seconds.” This honest move shows that you took the time to really think about your answer—which, in all fairness, you really did.

Tone of Voice

Be conscious of how you talk—not just how you pronounce your words but also how you say, in general, your speech. It’s not just about your intonation or where you place stresses and pauses (you know, for dramatic effect). It’s also how you make your message heard and felt.

The same goes for answering questions. If you come off too strong, the gesture may be seen as defensive; come off too weak and risk being thought of as a weak answerer. A friendly tone is the best tone to use and is also the most welcoming.

Presentation Matters: Long Answer

Long Answers

When faced with a long question, it doesn’t mean you need to respond with an answer of the same length; besides, long questions don’t warrant that. Instead, give your answer as straight and concise as you can.

You risk losing the attention of your audience the more you dwell on an answer—worse, you may even repeat points over and over again, putting into question your expertise on the subject. You’ve already got limited time as it is.

Fillers

Speaking of diminishing subject-matter expertise, “Um,” “Well,” “You know,” and “Uh” will not help establish that. Repeating these filler words over and over will only serve to annoy your audience and damage your credibility, not to mention that they will also eat time.

Granted, no one can speak fluently without practice, especially with impromptu answers, but the best you could do is lessen these fillers. It’s always a good idea to take a pause and gather your thoughts, then speak.

Presentation Matters: Composure

Composure

Keeping your cool is already a given, especially if you’re onstage. If you’re thrown off by awkward questions, dissenting opinions, or even hecklers, that’s going to reflect on your general demeanor. Don’t let these situations—and many more—faze you.

Keep calm, and stay polite throughout the entire session. Once you lose your composure and try to pick a fight with a member of your audience, especially with hecklers, your night will just be ruined… and that’s the best you end up with. Don’t bring more harm to your credibility.

Arguments

Closely linked to the last point, arguments, especially heated ones, will only end up wasting everybody’s time. It will also show that you’re defensive, combative, and hostile, three things (among others) you don’t want your audience thinking of you.

Instead, lead questions to the right track. If someone offers an opposing opinion, acknowledge the difference (because there’s really not much you can do after), and, if possible, offer a middle ground. Or just end with the acknowledgment and move on to the next question.

It’s not easy having a question and answer portion to end your presentation. Being a moderator comes with its own duties, responsibilities, and rules completely different from being a speaker. But once you get the hang of it, you’ll be acing both in no time.

Of course, preparation is a must. You’ve already prepared for the presentation; what’s stopping you from doing the same for the Q&A? You’re already the subject-matter expert, so it makes sense that you’re the one they’ll be asking questions from. Allay their fears and satisfy their curiosity. Answer them in the best way possible: your own.

 

Resources:

Decker, Ben. “Avoid These Don’ts During Presentation Q&A Sessions.” PresentationXpert. n.d. www.presentationxpert.com/avoid-these-donts-during-qa-sessions

Greene, Charles III. “Presentation Skills: 5 Tips to Improve Your Q&A.” CharlesGreene.com. August 27, 2012. www.charlesgreene.com/2012/08/5-tips-to-improve-your-qa-sessions

Holtzclaw, Eric. “9 Tips for Handling a Q&A Session.” Inc. February 5, 2013. www.inc.com/eric-v-holtzclaw/9-tips-for-handling-a-qa-session.html

Posey, Cheryl. “The Importance of Using the Correct Tone of Voice.” SpeakingYouBestOnline.com. April 18, 2012. www.speakingyourbestonline.com/blog/the-importance-of-using-the-correct-tone-of-voice

Watts, Rich. “The Complete Guide to Handling Q&A Sessions.” LinkedIn Pulse. June 13, 2014. www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140613151624-131038283-the-complete-guide-to-handling-q-a-sessions

Windingland, Diane. “13 Tips for Handling a Question and Answer Session.” VirtualSpeechCoach.com. May 2, 2012. www.virtualspeechcoach.com/2012/05/02/12-tips-for-handling-a-question-and-answer-session

“Top Tips on Handling a Question and Answer Session.” University of Bedfordshire. December 2009. www.beds.ac.uk/knowledgehub/events/toptips/questionandanswer

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Presentation Resolutions: 3 Tips to Help You Progress This Year

The start of a new year, a  chance to re-create your values and start fresh. Most of us think of resolutions as ways we can change for the better and improve. We can apply these same New Year’s resolution concepts to enhance your professional presentation skills.

Focusing on improvements will always steer you in the right direction when delivering effective presentations with any type of content and to any type of audience. Taking little steps such as preparing a script or starting with a storyboard will allow you to over time to become a presentation specialist. Below are a few simple yet impactful, changes that you can begin to adapt in the new year.

Taking Charge of Your Public Speaking Fear

ted conference

Public speaking comes easily to very few. Make it a goal to improve your presenting skills with tips and resources from some of the world’s best. Watch famous speeches and learn from these speaker’s traits,  you can find some great presenters from TEDx Talk Events. The only way to truly enhance and improve your public speaking abilities is to practice, which overall means giving more presentations. You can even practice for a colleague or co-worker before your big presentation, and taking small steps like these will help you feel more comfortable speaking in front of any audience.

Using More Pathos

Graffiti: Creativity and Customer Acquisition

Though your presentation needs to be composed properly with enhancing content and ideas, making your presentation memorable. You can reach your audience’s emotions by utilizing powerful stories, images, graphs – even color schemes! Try to do something different in each one of your presentations, while still keeping an organized outline using a storyboard, take it to the next level. Spend a few extra minutes preparing this by using creative content, ideas and themes, ask yourself- would this presentation be entertaining to you?

Being Honest, No Matter What

cross finger

Being a credible presenter is being the best kind of presenter. Your audience only believes in your ideas and content if they believe in you. Though your audience may throw you off once in a while with tricky questions or concerns, remember to always be honest in your response. Always do your back research and cross-check on multiple sites for data accuracy and cite accordingly. Another good way to earn credibility as a presenter is to ask for feedback at the end of your presentation. Teach more and sell less, engage constantly and make sure you look as professional as you sound.

 

Reference

Ted TalksTED. Accessed January 2, 2014.

Office Mix: Innovation in PowerPoint for Education

With all the arguments raised against it – the most notorious of which is Death by PowerPoint (or rather, by boredom through it) – PowerPoint has become notorious for boring and uninteresting presentations. In response to this, the presentation tool continues to innovate itself to improve both presenter and audience experience.

One of these innovations is MS PowerPoint’s Office Mix, a free add-in that lets people create interactive material they can share online. This feature especially caters to educators, who can now upload their lessons and teach their students anywhere, at any time.

But what exactly is Office Mix all about?

We break down each of its important aspects and give you their benefits.

1. Going Live Online

Office Mix is an easy-to-use tool for accessing and sharing content online. Anyone you choose to share your presentation with can view it from any device. You can share it with your peers in OneNote, or upload it on the web where students can access it.

It also lets you generate live web pages that your student can interact with on the spot.

Mix has revived the previously phased out web page option with the Quizzes Videos Apps button, which also lets you insert interactive quizzes.

Once you select the Web Page option in the Lab Apps, a dialog box requesting for the web page URL will appear. Once you’ve inserted the link, the web page will load and will be free for you to rearrange on your slide. To see how a live web page works on a deck, watch this tutorial on the Office Mix site.

Your PowerPoint definitely can’t replace your presence, but having this add-in helps students who need a quick review of your lessons. Walk them through every key point all over again at their own pace.

2. Digital Mix

Office Mix is literally a mix of mediums that make learning easier and more interactive.

It has improved PowerPoint for education by making use of digital media to connect with a tech-savvy generation. Take advantage of its audio and video narration to effectively guide students both visually and verbally.

Mix lets you take screen recordings of your actions when the need for a demo arises, and lets you digitally ink your slides in real time as you execute your lesson plan. Like broadcasting your PowerPoint, anyone who has a link to your presentation can view your slides as you go through this once you present your slide show online.

At the same time, Office Mix doesn’t take a PowerPoint pro to do the basics. It’s user-friendly enough to let you play around with the digital mediums without an in-depth knowledge of each.

3. PowerPoint Innovation

Office Mix has changed the concept of PowerPoint presentations in the classroom. It’s designed for interactivity, both on the part of the student, and the teacher.

The same Quizzes and Video Apps button in your Mix Add-in lets you insert quizzes and polls into your slides, and review your quiz questions before they go live. Students don’t just answer these quizzes. The results are returned to you so you’ll be able to gauge their comprehension of your lessons.

This data can be imported to Excel, where you can keep track of your students’ progress on a spreadsheet, making it easier for you to grade them.

Conclusion

The future of PowerPoint for education is here. Gone are the days when students would tune out in boring lectures.

Office Mix is inclusive for an optimal learning experience. Reach out to your students online, or discuss your lesson plan with colleagues. Mix makes use of different digital mediums to enhance interactivity.

It’s an innovation that keeps expanding the possibilities of PowerPoint beyond the slide and closer to the audience. Don’t miss out the opportunity to improve your educational presentations.

Let our SlideGenius experts help you with your presentation needs. Contact us today for a free quote!

Resources:

“Office Mix Tutorial: Web Pages, Simulations & More.” Office Mix. Accessed November 26, 2015. https://mix.office.com/watch/qn821zf10bni
“What Is Office Mix.” Office Mix for Teachers. n.d. Accessed November 26, 2015. www.mixforteachers.com/what-is-office-mix.html

Featured Image: “Teacher’s Desk – Linn School” by Todd Petrie on flickr.com

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Design that Speaks: Styling PowerPoint Background Designs that Work

Designs add depth to content. They are useful for PowerPoint presentations, especially when words alone aren’t explicit enough.

Ideally, PowerPoint pitches should consist of a limited amount of words. Therefore, being expressive is a challenge. Usually, they only contain keywords but because designs impose tone or suggest interpretation, they become more comprehensible.

Studies suggest that elements of art have several different connotations to them. However, they are seldom obvious. It’s common to people that yellow is a happy color or that red looks romantic. But for the average majority, that’s just about it.

Using Psychology in Design

Many know psychological interpretations of art elements such as color, but only a few use this knowledge to their advantage; or at least see them as advantageous.

The ability to understand psychology in design and creativity, and use them in presentations is powerful. “When design and behavior match, the design will be superior,” said Simon Norris in an article. The more psychological effects a slide possesses, the more value it has.

PowerPoint background designs, as much as content does, play a crucial role in persuading audiences. They can influence how others think about you and how they react to you.

One of the secrets in creating a successful business pitch is by connecting with your audience. By appealing to their emotions, you help them remember the idea of your message.

Create effective PowerPoint pitches by incorporating knowledge on useful art psychologies. Know how various elements of art can be used to attract audiences through this infographic.

Resource:

“Visual Communication and The Psychology of Design.” SuperGraphics. www.supergraphics.com/blog/visual-communication-and-psychology-design

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