• Boring Text Slide? Use Font Size to Make it Pop!

  • Posted on August 1, 2011

  • Ever have a slide like this, showing your audience some important statistic? Do you wish you could make this slide design pop more?

    Here’s an idea inspired by Before & After magazine. Like the car ads pitching 0% financing, blow that number up to command the slide. Then add the text in smaller font. Contrast makes a design pop and may give you the impact you were looking for. Give it a try!

    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.


  • Great Design is about Taking Away, Not Adding

  • Posted on July 28, 2011

  • An important lesson for slide designers is this: great-looking design is more about TAKING AWAY unnecessary elements than ADDING more decorative elements.

    Here’s design great John McWade, author of How to Design Cool Stuff, showing why less is more.

    The key takeaways for me are:

    • Use a color palette to harmonize your colors. I use Color Cop to create a pleasing color palette (see video)
    • Don’t create “frames” around your images. Instead, bleed them off the edge of the slide
    • Pay attention to alignment (see video)
    • Avoid embellishments like drop shadows, decorative lines and novelty fonts
    • Don’t feel the need to fill every available space. Allow whitespace (blank space) into your slide and let your slide “breathe”

    When you’re not pleased with your slide design, don’t ask “what else can I add?” but “what else can I take away?”

    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.


  • 7 Predictions for Presentation Design

  • Posted on July 25, 2011

  • Someone recently emailed me and asked this intriguing question: what trends do you see in presentation design in the next 1-3 years?

    I thought the question was thought-provoking so I list below the 7 trends I see in presentation design.

    1. More storytelling, less slides. Books like Resonate and The Naked Presenter are encouraging speakers to depend less on slides and more on the power of storytelling. Many presentations, especially those intended to motivate and pass on values, are more effective without any slides at all.

    2. Stock photography is the new clip art. I think we’re all growing fatigued of slides that are gorgeous but clearly “posed”. It’s hard to be truly inspired by stock photography, with its too-perfect imagery and too-happy people. We crave reality and so we’ll see increased use of Creative Commons images to replace stock photography.

    3. Tablets and scribbling. The rise of the iPad and other tablet computers will replace pure laptops and so speakers will interact with their presentations more by scribbling annotations on slides as they speak. They will increasingly start out with a blank presentation slide and build it as part of a conversation with the audience, like using a flipchart or whiteboard.

    4. More focus on effectiveness, less on design, starting in education. The pendulum has swung too far to the creative side of the equation where we’re pumping out beautiful but low-content slides like you see on SlideShare. This won’t work, especially in education. Teachers will increasingly demand rules for using PowerPoint that are based on instructional research. This will spread, first to business and then to other types of speakers.

    5. PowerPoint continues to replace text documents. The trends that are driving adoption of PowerPoint as a business document will continue to push text documents out of business: complex problems, increased availability of data and the tools to analyze it, information overload.

    6. Increased interest in developing PowerPoint slides for online marketing. SlideShare is mostly used today by small businesses and thought leaders with a lot of time on their hands. But increasingly, businesses will see the value of creating SlideShare decks to increase interest in their products. The rules for SlideShare decks are different than the rules for training decks, business decks and keynote decks and there will be some floundering around while we figure out the rules. Someone will write a book targeting this niche interest.

    7. Video, motion. With tools like Prezi, YouTube videos and even Adobe After Effects, it’s becoming easier to enhance static slides with motion. But the phrase “enhance” is loaded. Does this mean enhance the meaning? Or simply add ornamentation? My prediction is people will fumble with these new tools at first, adding glitz to their presentations without enhancing the meaning. And over time, they will learn to use motion effects with restraint and even some wisdom.

    What are your predictions for presentation design in the next 1-3 years? Leave a comment below.

    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 Foundation For All Great Presentations – Plan On Paper First

  • Posted on July 22, 2011

  • Carmine Gallo posted the best PowerPoint tip you’ll ever get on the Forbes.com blog today. And, in truth, this advice is so simple and so profound, it will forever change the way you build presentations – if only you’ll follow it.

    The advice: plan your deck on paper first.

    This simple – even humble – piece of advice really is the foundation for all great presentations. I’ve even developed the Mindworks Method planning grid to help business managers plan better decks.

    This advice will result in better decks for a number of reasons.

    1. Uncover your story. I’ve written extensively on this blog about the power of storytelling. But an unorganized heap of graphs and schematic diagrams is not a story. When you plan on paper, using a storyboard, you figure out your broad strokes first: what is my message, what are the 3-4 key points I want to hit, what point will I hit first, second. Only after you know these things are you ready to start building slides.

    2. Saves you time. You’ll eliminate all that time you waste building slides, playing with different images, playing with fonts and colors, only to realize you don’t really need this slide. Sometimes that slide is simply deleted. Sometime, you can’t bear to delete it – you spent so much time on it! So it goes into the appendix.

    3. Avoids the PowerPoint defaults. Whenever someone blames PowerPoint for their use of bullet points, I always ask “you did plan on paper first, right?” If you plan on paper, you aren’t channeled toward bullet points but begin by thinking about the major points you want to hit on each slide, which often leads to thinking more visually.

    4. Great collaboration tool. It’s easier to get together in a room with other folks and plan a presentation when you whiteboard it first – what is the main point we want to hit, what are the main support points, etc (like point #1 above). This avoids the common “Franken-deck” approach, where you say “Karl, you take the first 3 slides on the market size. Karen, you take a couple of slides on the partner channel. I’ll add the product slides.”

    5. You’ll end up with better decks faster. I use notepaper to plan PowerPoint decks, which have several advantages. They are about the dimensions of a PowerPoint slide. You are forced to write one simple idea on each slide and not depend on 8-point font to make your point. You can quickly – in about 30-60 minutes – draft a 30-slide deck. You can lay your notepaper out and see how the story flows. You can rearrange slides to improve the story flow. You can see where your story is falling apart and improve it. You can throw slides away before you make the mistake of building them.

    This one change is the foundation for better presentations. Don’t underestimate just how important and profound is this advice. It may make the difference between a good and a great presentation the next time you open PowerPoint.

    But only if you actually do it.

    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.


  • What are Alternatives to PowerPoint?

  • Posted on July 21, 2011

  • Occasionally, someone will ask “What are the alternatives to PowerPoint”?

    Yes, there are a lot of horrible PowerPoint presentations. But the answer is not to look for another presentation software to hide behind. The answer — and the only long-term answer — is better visual communication skills.

    Looking for PowerPoint alternatives is usually a mistake. Here’s why:

    1. Same challenges. Whether it’s Keynote, Prezi, SlideRocket or flip charts, the challenge is the same: how to sequence information, how to use the right mix of text and pictures, how to use graphic design professionally and how to synch it all with your spoken presentation. The challenge is exactly the same no matter what medium you use. And if you can’t do it with PowerPoint, you won’t be able to do it with the alternatives.

    2. Wrong motivation. People are looking for alternatives only because they’re frustrated with PowerPoint, NOT because it will make them better presenters. Often, they’re drawn to novelty like zooming or cooler transitions. Really? You think zoom effects are going to turn your cruddy presentation into “I Have a Dream”?

    3. PowerPoint is the easiest to work with. Love it or hate it, everyone already uses PowerPoint so you can email PowerPoint slides to others, you can upload them to SlideShare, if you carry your deck on a USB stick it’s likely you’ll be able to just plug it into the presenter’s computer and it will work. There are tons of video tutorials and books on how to use PowerPoint. You can’t say that about Prezi, Keynote or anything else.

    It’s the 21st century, folks. The world is moving toward visual communications. It’s time to make visual communication skills training a priority in school and at work.

    That’s the only alternative.

    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.

Page 20 of 35« First10181920212230Last »

Ever have a slide like this, showing your audience some important statistic? Do you wish you could make this slide design pop more?

Here’s an idea inspired by Before & After magazine. Like the car ads pitching 0% financing, blow that number up to command the slide. Then add the text in smaller font. Contrast makes a design pop and may give you the impact you were looking for. Give it a try!

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.

An important lesson for slide designers is this: great-looking design is more about TAKING AWAY unnecessary elements than ADDING more decorative elements.

Here’s design great John McWade, author of How to Design Cool Stuff, showing why less is more.

The key takeaways for me are:

  • Use a color palette to harmonize your colors. I use Color Cop to create a pleasing color palette (see video)
  • Don’t create “frames” around your images. Instead, bleed them off the edge of the slide
  • Pay attention to alignment (see video)
  • Avoid embellishments like drop shadows, decorative lines and novelty fonts
  • Don’t feel the need to fill every available space. Allow whitespace (blank space) into your slide and let your slide “breathe”

When you’re not pleased with your slide design, don’t ask “what else can I add?” but “what else can I take away?”

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.

Someone recently emailed me and asked this intriguing question: what trends do you see in presentation design in the next 1-3 years?

I thought the question was thought-provoking so I list below the 7 trends I see in presentation design.

1. More storytelling, less slides. Books like Resonate and The Naked Presenter are encouraging speakers to depend less on slides and more on the power of storytelling. Many presentations, especially those intended to motivate and pass on values, are more effective without any slides at all.

2. Stock photography is the new clip art. I think we’re all growing fatigued of slides that are gorgeous but clearly “posed”. It’s hard to be truly inspired by stock photography, with its too-perfect imagery and too-happy people. We crave reality and so we’ll see increased use of Creative Commons images to replace stock photography.

3. Tablets and scribbling. The rise of the iPad and other tablet computers will replace pure laptops and so speakers will interact with their presentations more by scribbling annotations on slides as they speak. They will increasingly start out with a blank presentation slide and build it as part of a conversation with the audience, like using a flipchart or whiteboard.

4. More focus on effectiveness, less on design, starting in education. The pendulum has swung too far to the creative side of the equation where we’re pumping out beautiful but low-content slides like you see on SlideShare. This won’t work, especially in education. Teachers will increasingly demand rules for using PowerPoint that are based on instructional research. This will spread, first to business and then to other types of speakers.

5. PowerPoint continues to replace text documents. The trends that are driving adoption of PowerPoint as a business document will continue to push text documents out of business: complex problems, increased availability of data and the tools to analyze it, information overload.

6. Increased interest in developing PowerPoint slides for online marketing. SlideShare is mostly used today by small businesses and thought leaders with a lot of time on their hands. But increasingly, businesses will see the value of creating SlideShare decks to increase interest in their products. The rules for SlideShare decks are different than the rules for training decks, business decks and keynote decks and there will be some floundering around while we figure out the rules. Someone will write a book targeting this niche interest.

7. Video, motion. With tools like Prezi, YouTube videos and even Adobe After Effects, it’s becoming easier to enhance static slides with motion. But the phrase “enhance” is loaded. Does this mean enhance the meaning? Or simply add ornamentation? My prediction is people will fumble with these new tools at first, adding glitz to their presentations without enhancing the meaning. And over time, they will learn to use motion effects with restraint and even some wisdom.

What are your predictions for presentation design in the next 1-3 years? Leave a comment below.

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.

Carmine Gallo posted the best PowerPoint tip you’ll ever get on the Forbes.com blog today. And, in truth, this advice is so simple and so profound, it will forever change the way you build presentations – if only you’ll follow it.

The advice: plan your deck on paper first.

This simple – even humble – piece of advice really is the foundation for all great presentations. I’ve even developed the Mindworks Method planning grid to help business managers plan better decks.

This advice will result in better decks for a number of reasons.

1. Uncover your story. I’ve written extensively on this blog about the power of storytelling. But an unorganized heap of graphs and schematic diagrams is not a story. When you plan on paper, using a storyboard, you figure out your broad strokes first: what is my message, what are the 3-4 key points I want to hit, what point will I hit first, second. Only after you know these things are you ready to start building slides.

2. Saves you time. You’ll eliminate all that time you waste building slides, playing with different images, playing with fonts and colors, only to realize you don’t really need this slide. Sometimes that slide is simply deleted. Sometime, you can’t bear to delete it – you spent so much time on it! So it goes into the appendix.

3. Avoids the PowerPoint defaults. Whenever someone blames PowerPoint for their use of bullet points, I always ask “you did plan on paper first, right?” If you plan on paper, you aren’t channeled toward bullet points but begin by thinking about the major points you want to hit on each slide, which often leads to thinking more visually.

4. Great collaboration tool. It’s easier to get together in a room with other folks and plan a presentation when you whiteboard it first – what is the main point we want to hit, what are the main support points, etc (like point #1 above). This avoids the common “Franken-deck” approach, where you say “Karl, you take the first 3 slides on the market size. Karen, you take a couple of slides on the partner channel. I’ll add the product slides.”

5. You’ll end up with better decks faster. I use notepaper to plan PowerPoint decks, which have several advantages. They are about the dimensions of a PowerPoint slide. You are forced to write one simple idea on each slide and not depend on 8-point font to make your point. You can quickly – in about 30-60 minutes – draft a 30-slide deck. You can lay your notepaper out and see how the story flows. You can rearrange slides to improve the story flow. You can see where your story is falling apart and improve it. You can throw slides away before you make the mistake of building them.

This one change is the foundation for better presentations. Don’t underestimate just how important and profound is this advice. It may make the difference between a good and a great presentation the next time you open PowerPoint.

But only if you actually do it.

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.

Occasionally, someone will ask “What are the alternatives to PowerPoint”?

Yes, there are a lot of horrible PowerPoint presentations. But the answer is not to look for another presentation software to hide behind. The answer — and the only long-term answer — is better visual communication skills.

Looking for PowerPoint alternatives is usually a mistake. Here’s why:

1. Same challenges. Whether it’s Keynote, Prezi, SlideRocket or flip charts, the challenge is the same: how to sequence information, how to use the right mix of text and pictures, how to use graphic design professionally and how to synch it all with your spoken presentation. The challenge is exactly the same no matter what medium you use. And if you can’t do it with PowerPoint, you won’t be able to do it with the alternatives.

2. Wrong motivation. People are looking for alternatives only because they’re frustrated with PowerPoint, NOT because it will make them better presenters. Often, they’re drawn to novelty like zooming or cooler transitions. Really? You think zoom effects are going to turn your cruddy presentation into “I Have a Dream”?

3. PowerPoint is the easiest to work with. Love it or hate it, everyone already uses PowerPoint so you can email PowerPoint slides to others, you can upload them to SlideShare, if you carry your deck on a USB stick it’s likely you’ll be able to just plug it into the presenter’s computer and it will work. There are tons of video tutorials and books on how to use PowerPoint. You can’t say that about Prezi, Keynote or anything else.

It’s the 21st century, folks. The world is moving toward visual communications. It’s time to make visual communication skills training a priority in school and at work.

That’s the only alternative.

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.