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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

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.

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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.

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Resource:

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

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Display a Live Twitter Feed in PowerPoint 2016

Adding a live Twitter feed in your PowerPoint is one of the many ways to make your presentation more engaging. Fortunately, only a few presenters know how to insert a website in their presentation, which is why using this feature gives you the opportunity to take advantage of your listeners’ curiosity and make a good, lasting impression.

Apart from spicing up your presentation by making it interesting and more interactive, having a live Twitter feed lets you expand your ideas as you deliver your speech. You can show it during the first part of your presentation to encourage the audience to tweet about your talk, or with the help of a hashtag, put it at the end of your speech to show them the live tweets of the event.

To get a clear picture of how to successfully add a live Twitter feed in your presentation, here’s an infographic that will give you a step-by-step tutorial using PowerPoint 2016.

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Let’s Get Visual: 3 Reasons Why You Should Use Infographics

Infographics are a popular medium of data presentation. While they don’t necessarily replace research, it’s become a go-to medium for quick information sharing.

In her article on Piktochart, digital strategist Nevyana Karakasheva explains how infographics compress your content into easily digestible visuals that can go viral online, depending on how much social shares you generate. The potential for sharing makes it an effective marketing tool, both for sharing relevant content to your prospects and subtly promoting yourself.

What exactly influences the infographic’s overall appeal? When reading infographics, people ask these three common questions:

Why are infographics the current trend?

What’s an infographic’s selling point?

Will using these visual aids attract your target audience?

Here are some answers that could help:

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Q: Why are infographics the current trend?

Visual learning is in. With 65% of the population identifying as visual learners, according to professor Patricia Vakos of Pearson Prentice Hall, it’s no wonder why infographics are an attractive option to the majority.

An infographic’s strategic use of color, layout, image, and text appeal to the visual learner’s desire for creative knowledge. Even for the not-so visually-inclined, infographics help break down the data overload many of us experience in today’s world.

In a world bogged down by too much information, having something to summarize data into appealing and easily digestible points is like a breath of fresh air. Because of its all-around charm, an infographic can attract the interest of most audiences, making it perfect for presenting facts and statistics.

Q: What’s an infographic’s selling point?

It helps explore your creativity when planning its design and layout. You can opt to place content to an existing infographic template or play around with design elements.

Challenge your creativity while dishing out valuable information. After all, the sky’s the limit when it comes to creating an infographic.

You can make use visuals to point and connect to facts or illustrate them. This makes your material engaging and more attractive than plain textual overload.

Q: How will using these attract your target audience?

It’s accessible to users, mostly online. Because they are being shared over social media, infographics are more appealing and accessible. Their various layouts and visual designs also make plain data more interesting to look at.

An infographic turns difficult statistics into discernible information. It also makes your brand easier to share and understand. The added exposure and clarification help expand your network, boost your page views, and introduce you to prospective clients.

Although nothing beats a face-to-face presentation, having infographics on your site or your slide deck saves you time explaining facts.

Conclusion

Infographics are striking sources of information.

Contrary to popular belief, they don’t just cater to visual learners; they also attract all types of people. The visual aspect leaves you free to explore the infographic’s creative possibilities.

At the same time, they also break down difficult data into easily readable information. This lets viewers easily process them and share it with their friends. If you want to get yourself out there, consider putting up your own infographic.

Need advice for your infographic design? Let our SlideGenius experts assist you. Contact us today for a free quote!

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References:

Karakasheva, Nevyana. “Why Infographics Are An Inseparable Part of a Successful SEO Campaign.” Piktochart Infographics. June 1, 2015. www.piktochart.com/why-infographics-are-an-inseparable-part-of-a-successful-seo-campaign
Vakos, Patricia. “Why the Blank Stare? Strategies for Visual Learners.” Pearson Education, Inc. 2003. www.phschool.com/eteach/social_studies/2003_05/essay.html
“The Visual (Spatial) Learning Style.” Learning Styles Online. n.d. www.learning-styles-online.com/style/visual-spatial

 

Featured Image: “Visual Acuity” by Elizabeth Hann on flickr.com

Back to Basics: Making the Most of PowerPoint Gradients

If you’re still starting out with PowerPoint, it’s important to explore the program’s different features. Before you can go to the presentation tool’s more advanced options, however, you’ll need to figure out its basic components first.

One of these primary elements is the gradient tool. You don’t need to stick to solid colors all the time. This PowerPoint tool can give a plain slide background or shape some depth and shading, making it more realistic. However, be careful not to overdo it to avoid making your deck look clunky and cluttered. Opt for a cleaner PowerPoint with just the right design.

Learn to use gradients strategically in creating effective shading techniques on a professional deck:

Choosing the Right Color Combination

A gradient is the combination of two or more colors. These colors bleed into each other and overlap, but both are always visible.

Earlier versions of PowerPoint provide built-in gradient fills with their own color combination, but PowerPoint 2010 onward has its preset gradient fills for one color with light and dark variations. You can customize these later on to your preference. This includes adding more colors to your gradient.

Choosing an appropriate color combination is necessary in making hues complement each other. For shading purposes, it’s better to use analogous color schemes or similar color temperatures. As an example, using only warm or cool colors on your gradient will give the illusion of seamless color transition.

Using Preset Gradients

Built-in gradients are the simplest to use and may be preferable for first-time users of PowerPoint. To apply this gradient to shapes, do the following steps: Select the shape you’ll be applying the gradient to. A Format tab will appear in your toolbar.

format tab

Under the Shape Styles group, select Shape Fill > Gradient.

Supporting Image 02 - Shape Fill

Choose from any of the variations available. There are two selections for any solid color in the gradient: Light and dark.

Light variations are your original color mixed with white. On the other hand, its dark counterpart is also your original color with black.

To go to the Gradient option for your slide background, just right click the slide you want to apply the gradient to, and select Format Background.

Supporting Image 03 - Format Background

From there, follow the same set of instructions as applying gradients to shapes.

Customizing Gradients

If you aren’t satisfied with the available gradient choices, you’re free to customize your gradients.

Click on the More Gradients option below the gradient variations.Supporting Image 04 - More Gradients

Here you can choose the Type of gradient you want. It can be radial, rectangular, linear, or path.

You can also pick the Direction you want your colors to take.

Making use of Gradient Stops will let you control how much of each shade blends with the rest.

Supporting Image 05 - Gradient Stops

To change the color of a specific shade, select a gradient stop and change it on the color picker.

Other aspects of your selected gradient stop that you can change include its Position, Transparency, and Brightness.

Experiment with these options until you achieve your desired gradient.

Conclusion

Gradients may be a basic PowerPoint feature, but using it in the right way can still transform your deck into something understandable and easy on the eyes.

Make sure you select the right color combination. This can evoke the right moods for your pitch and achieve an effect that leverages rather than detracts your design.

If you want to familiarize yourself with the basics of PowerPoint gradients, start with preset gradients. Depending on what you want to do with your shape or slide background, choose between light or dark variations of your solid color fill. Customize your gradient and play around with the amount, type, and direction of your colors to add depth and shading. Using the correct color combinations can highlight your brand to make it more distinct and memorable.

Need help with your deck design? Contact our SlideGenius experts today for a free quote!

References

“Add a Gradient Fill to a Shape.” Office Support. www.support.office.com/en-us/article/Add-a-gradient-fill-to-a-shape-11cf6392-723c-4be8-840a-b2dab4b2ba3e
“Color Harmonies.” Tiger Color. www.tigercolor.com/color-lab/color-theory/color-harmonies.htm

Featured Image: “Convergence (Explored!)” by Mohammed Moosa on flickr.com

 

10 PowerPoint Design Tips to Revive Your Slides

Have your presentations been lackluster lately? Do you also find an impressive deck taking too much time and effort to make?

We’ve compiled a list to make it easier for you to achieve your desired deck. All you have to do is apply these simple changes to bring it back to life:

1. Keep Text to a Minimum

There’s absolutely no need to swamp your audience with text. They’ll only get ahead of you if you make all your talking points available for them to read. It also makes them tune out once they’ve read and understood everything.

Write down key points and save the details for your speech. Less text means you don’t have to keep going back to your slides to make corrections. It also means you have more room.

2. Connect with a Narrative

The most natural way of engaging in a conversation is with a story. If you’re struggling to turn your presentation into a narrative, follow a simple structure with a beginning, middle, and end.

Failing to meet one of these three conditions weakens the structure of your presentation. If you fail to reach a conclusion, the listener won’t know what to do with the information provided. The middle contains the meat of your presentation and not giving it enough attention is like skimming through your main points. Finally, because it provides context, skipping an introduction will make you hard to follow. Create a seamless pitch with a narrative structure for a powerful story format.

3. Hit Up PowerPoint Last

Prioritize content. Plan your speech outline and rehearse all your talking points. You’re the center of the presentation, and the program is only there to support you. Don’t make the mistake of becoming an accessory to your slides.

Take a break from crafting your deck to focus on rehearsing your speech. An engaging enough story and message might not need the support of an elaborate PowerPoint.

4. Storyboard Your Presentation

Before you even think of touching PowerPoint, build the structure of your story visually. Don’t jump ahead to slide creation without a plan of action. You’ll waste a lot of effort editing out slides that don’t fit your message. Lay out your ideas on paper so you can move them around freely.

5. Support Your Message Visually

Your image shouldn’t just be relatable to your topic. Since our first point emphasized text reduction, this point will emphasize balancing text with imagery. Hit two birds with one stone by choosing a high-quality stock image that looks good and visually supports your message.

For example, the stock image in the previous section, obtained freely from Kaboompics, is meant to depict the act of storyboarding ideas. This reflects the message of that section, which talks about storyboarding.

Although some sources provide images are free, always give credit where it’s due.

6. Cut Back on Animation Transitions

It’s better to stick to a simple but memorable presentation than be remembered for a convoluted one. Use simple slide transitions like cut, fade, and wipe since these are the least distracting of the bunch. These have been used for years in film editing. Your deck can benefit from these techniques as well. The cut transition is the most subtle, often over in a blink of an eye. Alternately, direct your viewer’s gaze specifically with the fade and wipe transitions.

These simple transitions are effective enough to deliver your points without becoming a distraction.

7. Limit Bullet Points

Use bullet points judiciously. They’re a simple and effective way to list down your key points.

In the example above, the list on the left is much easier to remember and understand than the one on the right since the points are kept to the essentials.

Format your list for consistency of style and content to avoid confusing your audience. Create a logical flow of ideas when using bullet points and keep each key point short.

Your audience can only remember a few key points during your presentation, so don’t add too much to the mix.

8. Choose Your Fonts Wisely

Your font choice plays a big role in PowerPoint design. Instead of plunging deep into the meaning and history behind every font type, we’ve narrowed it all down so you can choose the perfect font in five minutes or less. The fonts we recommend are already in your Microsoft or Apple computer so there’s no need to download anything.

For example, Bodoni is an elegant font that’s suitable for both headers and subheaders. Speed up the process further by plugging in your text and headline in Font Pair to view your text combination immediately.

9. Customize Templates with Slide Master

The Slide Master is your friend. It looks like a complicated feature, but if you have a clear brand identity and message, it’s simpler to use since it applies your formatting changes to your entire presentation.

Fonts and even color schemes can be standardized to give your deck a more consistent look. This makes it more comfortable for clients to view. This tool further customizes your deck. For example, you can append your company logo to all of your slides using Slide Master, and your logo will appear automatically on every slide.

10. Pick the Appropriate Chart

Complex data is difficult to translate visually. How do you know which chart to use for your presentation?

Dr. Andrew Abela, a professor of marketing and renowned presentation design consultant, developed the Chart Chooser for your convenience. Chart Chooser is a flowchart that guides you on how to present with the appropriate chart. Use your judgement to present your data appropriately and attractively.

Conclusion

These PowerPoint Design tips cover vital aspects of your presentation design with a heavy focus on keeping things clear and simple.

Draft your speech outline first before embarking on the design process of your slides. Manage the appearance of your slides later so that you won’t compromise your content by giving it the short end of the stick. Choose which elements go well in your slides. Every part of your slide must contribute to your entire message. Don’t use distracting animation, inappropriate bullet points, or the wrong chart to present your data.

 

References

Abela, Andrew. “Choosing a Good Chart.” The Extreme Presentation(tm) Method. September 6, 2006. www.extremepresentation.typepad.com/blog/2006/09/choosing_a_good.html
Reynolds, Garr. “10 Slide Design Tips for Producing Powerful and Effective Presentations.” TechRepublic. September 19, 2006. www.techrepublic.com/article/10-slide-design-tips-for-producing-powerful-and-effective-presentations/6117178
Teti, Gianluca. “Bodoni: A Typeface for (almost) Any Occasion.” Gianluca Teti – Web Graphic Designer. July 30, 2014. www.gianlucateti.com/bodoni-a-typeface-for-almost-any-occasion

 

Featured Image: by Jeremy Goldberg on unsplash.com