First-off, stock presentation templates are visual garbage. Let’s go ahead and count the ways:
1. Stock designs lack visual appeal and more often than not look extremely dated. “The 90’s were the golden age of presentations!” said NO ONE EVER.
2. If your slides lack visual originality, you’re giving your audience the message that what you have to say lacks originality; and for the rest of your presentation you will be branded “Ye Ol’ Boring Guy or Gal.”
3. You’re going to lose your audience after the first slide. Seriously, they will literally fall asleep in front of your eyes; I’ve seen it happen.
4. Your presentation will have no identity or individuality. Remember that guy who served you lunch 10 minutes ago? Didn’t think so.
5. The standard outline style of stock templates leads to boring bullet point presentations, and to reading the bullet points aloud. (You are a business professional, not in high-school, correct?)
So, if you want to shine, lose the stock templates and put your own creativity on display. Here’s how in three simple steps:
Step 1: Sketch Your Outline
Have a concise idea of what you want to convey to your audience before you get started. This is going to be key in outlining your thoughts and having clear objective, so that your presentation doesn’t seem like incoherent rambling.
Effective presentations combine information and persuasion. In other words, you need to be:
A) Erudite – Convey a knowledgeable message to teach your audience about a specific topic. The key here is to know something your audience doesn’t. Harness your inner Stephen Hawking.
B) Convincing – Persuade your audience by presenting the facts from your perspective. Think Stephen Colbert.
The sub-objective here is to be concise and relatable; nobody wants to sit and listen to an unfocused, repetitious presentation that has nothing interesting to say. “How do you define ‘interesting’?” you ask? Here’s a great qoute from Shrindhi Sondur – “Boring people don’t have an opinion. “Someone who says Hitler was a noble soul and believes it vehemently is not a boring person…” A bit excessive but that’s kind of the point, you want to evoke an emotional response to what you’re saying.Sketch it Out – Be sure that your presentation makes linear sense, a beginning, middle and end. You’re also going to want to resist your unprofessional desire to stuff every little detail into your show. The objective is to have your audience walking away feeling like they’ve learned something. That won’t be the case if you overload them with information. Being overwhelmed is never a good learning experience. Give them the gift of knowledge, not sleep.
Step 2: An Elegant Layout
Be sure to create a few simple but elegantly designed layouts and repeat them throughout the presentation for consistency and legibility.
Notice the green swoosh in the bottom right of each slide below? That’s consistency at work, it’s what’s going to allow your audience to easily remember what you have to say rather than be bombarded and distracted with new imagery every other slide. They’re more likely to remember your message if you keep it simple.Here’s a check-list of the types of slides you’ll want in your presentation to keep it fresh:
o Opening Slide (This will be your most visually engaging slide.)
o Transition Slide (Every time you change a topic or need to introduce a new idea or concept, hopefully not too often.)
o Image Only Slide (Keep it to one good image and make it full screen)
o Text Slide (I’ve said this a lot but seriously UNDER 20 words.)
o Mixed Slide (Feel free to tastefully put some text over an image—check out the example below.)
o Payoff Slide (On this slide it’s okay to break the word-count rule, if necessary. Be sure to add your web address / Twitter / Facebook so people know where they can learn more.)
Step 3: Set Your Tone with Type and Colour
First, choose a colour scheme. Don’t go crazy, you need to pick 2 to 4 colours, 5 MAX. The colours you pick need to match the tone of what you’re talking about. If you’re talking about your brand, BE SURE to include your brand palette, but remember you want a maximum of 5 colours.
Type is equally important, but again… don’t get too loose with your fonts. Pick two or three and stick to them like glue! Pick one typeface for headers, one for body copy and another for callouts or ‘accents’. As stated above regarding colour, you need to choose a typeface this is suitable for your brand as well as the message you’re trying to get across. If you use Comic Sans, I will find you.
Super Helpful Reference Links:
10 Tips for Giving Great Online Presentations
10 Tips For Giving A Great Speech
10 tips on how to make slides that communicate your idea
10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations