Why the Right Color Can Make or Break Your Presentation

Slide colors are important because color affects our mood, which in turn can affect whether or not your audience will agree with you. I was reminded of this important point when I stumbled across this image of the funeral procession of North Korea’s fallen dictator, Kim Jong-Il.

The image on the left was shot by Kyodo News of Japan. The one on the right, doctored in Photoshop to remove the stray crowd in the lower left (and to brighten the snow?), was released by the North Korean Central News Agency.

Look at the image on the left. How does it make you feel? Now look at the image on the right. Do you feel any different?

I can instantly feel more energy, optimism and joy looking at the image on the right. Don’t take your PowerPoint slide color choices lightly. You may want to pick up one of these fine books for advice on selecting slide colors: Speaking PowerPoint (my book), The Non-Designer’s Design Book (Robin Williams), Slide:ology (Nancy Duarte), Presentation Zen (Garr Reynolds).

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

WOW! Top 9 Tricks to Get Retweeted (Please RT!)

Want more of your tweets to be retweeted? The #1 tip is to keep your tweets under 70 characters so that retweeters can add their own comments like “interesting” or “so true”. That’s the findings from this study.

Here’s the top 9 tricks to get retweeted, along with a few things that won’t work or will even work against you, told as an infographic.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

Graph Makeover – Chart of the Day, How Email Use is Changing

The measure of a chart is how quickly it conveys the message while being visually pleasing. Conveying the message is, of course, the main point of the chart. Visually pleasing is also important because it enhances your credibility.

Here’s the Chart of the Day from Silicon Alley Insider. As an educational exercise, let’s critique this chart.

I would give this chart high marks. The message is clear: there’s a clear difference in increasing/decreasing email usage between age groups. To facilitate the message, this data is laid out in an up/down orientation, which is exactly right for communicating rising/falling forces. So the graph visually communicates the message. Ease of reading is assisted by adding the data values to the bars and by keeping the axis titles close to the bars. Overall, this is easy to visually digest, inspect with a few quick eye sweeps and understand.

The graph is also visually pleasing, with a cheerful blue for the bars and relatively subdued gray-blue for the horizontal rules. There isn’t a lot that could be improved.

In the interests of helping you build your graphing muscles, here is how I’d approach this graph.

Graph Makeover - Chart of the Day How Much Time People Spend with Email

1. Graph title. First, I’d write the graph title so the main message is clear. This is for the audience’s benefit, but it’s also for my benefit. If I don’t know what I’m trying to say, then my graph is doomed to failure. So write out your graph’s main point as a full sentence.

2. Color. Second, I’d color-code the negative values red. This has three benefits: it groups the graph into two distinct visual groups, it conveys negativity, and it attracts the eye to look at the negative values instantly.

3. Spacing. Third, I’d adjust the spacing between the bars to 50%. This brings the bars closer together and the eye doesn’t have to make a “running leap’ to go from bar to bar.

4. Remove “mumblers”. Finally, I’d remove the “mumblers” (the unnecessary details that clutter the graph).

  • Remove the repetitive word “Age” on the axis labels. We do use the words “Age” in the first and last bars but that’s all we need to clarify we’re talking age groups
  • I normally also suggest removing the y-axis completely if you’re putting the values directly on the bars. But in this case, I’d keep it. The negative/positive value may be confusing to the reader at first, so the y-axis helps them to become oriented quickly.
  • Remove the horizontal rules completely, which add unnecessary ink to the graph and occassionally bump into the data labels. Alternately, you could keep the rules but soften them to a light gray or a dotted line, so they’re whispering in the background.

Graph Makeover - Chart of the Day How Much Time People Spend with Email

Even though I normally remove the horizontal rules, I kind of like the second graph with the horizontal rules. The lines act like highway markers and as you pass each one you’re reminded how long that particular bar is. But really, any three of these graphs would be easy to understand and visually pleasing.

And that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? The personal satisfaction of building something that’s beautiful to you. Which is your favorite?

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.

The #1 Best Advice for Choosing PowerPoint Fonts

In my workshops, I’m often asked which is the best font to use on PowerPoint slides. The short answer is to choose a font the way you would a business outfit: use a font that’s readable, reflects your personality and makes you feel good.

The long answer is that different fonts have different personalities, which are right in different situations. In 2004, researchers at Washington State University studied 210 fonts to find out people felt toward them. And they came up with 6 categories of fonts which can generally be sorted based on whether the font was more informal or more forceful and what emotional impact it had, from no impact to unsettling. (Note, I sorted their 6 categories into this framework; this is not their official sorting or naming.)

 

So which font should you choose? That’s like asking which outfit you should wear. If you’re having an important business meeting, wear the brown suit. If you’re speaking at the TED Conference, wear jeans and a turtleneck. Going out on a date? Wear that flirty little black dress. Your font choice should be a conscious decision based on the image you want to project.

The ONE piece of advice I feel strongly about is to not use the default Calibri font. It makes your PowerPoint slide LOOK like a PowerPoint slide and everyone else’s slides. Presentation designer Jan Schultink gives this remarkable piece of advice: to ensure great design, don’t let your PowerPoint slides look like PowerPoint slides. Calibri screams PowerPoint!

Take a look at these two slides, using Calibri (left) and Meiryo (right). Can you feel the difference in energy?

To manage the default fonts in PPT 2010, got to Design > Fonts and select Create New Theme Fonts. Then choose new fonts for titles and body text and name your new custom font setting. Unfortunately, there’s no way to choose this as the default for all your future presentations. So, as you create presentations, you’ll first have to navigate to the Design > Fonts menu and select your new font styles from the menu.

I’ll be writing more about font choice, and sharing what the research has to say, in future blog posts. Sign up to receive blog posts in your inbox.

About the author: Bruce Gabrielle is author of Speaking PowerPoint: the New Language of Business, showing a 12-step method for creating clearer and more persuasive PowerPoint slides for boardroom presentations. Subscribe to this blog or join my LinkedIn group to get new posts sent to your inbox.