A presentation is only as good as its speaker. However, it is crucial to have powerful visuals to accompany a powerful voice. Therefore this post will focus on tips and tricks that I have found useful in the visual development of a presentation.
There are two main types of visual presentations, each is handled in a unique way:
The stand alone visual- Usually a board or poster, could be understood without the verbal input of the speaker. These types of presentations should focus on the ability of the diagrams, visuals and short explanations to speak for themselves. Diagrams and pictures should be comprehensive and easily understood even from three feet away. Colors should be used sparingly and carefully. Typically a color scheme is necessary and the brightest color should be assigned to the most important information. Lastly it should be organized in a manner than can be read from start to finish (left to right or top to bottom). Meaning that there is a clear directionality that helps the viewer capture all of the noted information.
The background visual- These are usually PowerPoint presentations that follow and flow according to what the speaker is saying. This type of presentation should focus on being a supplement– a support for the words. They should function to help the speaker discuss the issues as well as reinforce what the speaker is saying through strong and graphic visuals. A PowerPoint should have on strong color scheme and a set template that is seen throughout the presentation, in order not to distract from the important information. Visuals should be less detailed and stronger upon first glance. The speaker should have a strong introduction, supporting slides, and a conclusion, which is paralleled in the organization of the visuals.
In both types of presentations there are some things you absolutely want to avoid:
- Too many different and bright colors. Schemes should be harmonious and should have a range of connotations. Bright colors are assigned to important facts and are used sparingly, while muted colors can be used more often to make the presentation cohesive.
- Multiple fonts. Much like color schemes, having a font scheme is crucial. Pick a simple font which you can adjust using the different versions of the same type (i.e. Helvetica Neue which has almost 10 different versions within the same font). Pick one size for titles and another for captions. Also make sure to have one special occasion fonts– for times when you need to highlight something very particular.
- Too many special effects. Special effects can be exciting and helpful when giving a presentation, however they can be incredibly distracting. Use these only in very particular cases.
In conclusion, simplicity is key. A presentation that has too many things going on at once will distract your audience from what matters: What you are saying!
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