Sticky Presentations bite size article: A Story Behind Every Slide Design

A Story Behind Every Slide Design

Jan 26, 2016

A story, design, and lasting impressions. What gives a presentation slide the WOW! factor is the hidden story behind each slide design and the seamless information that was well crafted and blended into the slide.

High-impact slides that leave lasting impressions are not slides with raw information put together for the sake of the presentation. These are messages that were well thought of, analysed from the complexity of massive information, moulded into a format that is simple, easy to comprehend, and yet exciting, with just the right amount of focus that will captivate the audience's attention—leaving lasting impressions.

The visible information (image, text, numbers, or chart) on the slide is the key into a bigger picture of the whole story. How this information is visually presented must give life, meaning, and persuasiveness that sticks to the minds of the audience.

Take the example of the main slide above, a simple slide with only text information. Text information that has been reduced to keywords that clearly illustrates the intended message. The key message lies clearly in the center of the slide, styled in bold and boxed to ensure primary attention when displayed. Surrounding the key message are three secondary messages related to the key message.

The key message must clearly communicate the overall idea or intention of the presenter, and therefor must be carefully crafted. As he delivers his presentation, he walks his audience briefly touching on each of the secondary key messages. The combination of the visual story together with the delivery creates the lasting impression that is so important in every presentation.

The secondary messages (or key points) should be short and focused. The ideal will be three short messages. When situations require, we can have up to five secondary messages to a slide. The two examples below illustrate a visual with four and five secondary messages.

4 related key points Example of a slide with 4 secondary key points
Maximum of 5 related key points Example of a slide with max 5 secondary key points

Very often we have the urge to include too many words making messages lengthy. This will have negative effects on the design and compromises the ease of comprehension thus destroying the lasting impression that we so painstakingly wanted to create. Keeping each message short and simple must be observed in this design. There are, however, other methods for the inclusion of slightly more information, which we will discuss at another time.

Using simple arrows pointing to secondary messages is a good way to connect visual lines leading the audience's eyes toward the next message on the slide. Depending on the overall nature of the message, the arrows can also be pointing towards the key message.

To ensure that there is a separation between information and supporting visual objects, we use a different colour or tint. Separation is important to show information clearly. This will also make the visual much more comfortable for the eyes. In the examples here, we have used navy blue for the lines and arrows as a separation colour.

Give this a try in your next presentation and drop me an email about your experience.

The author, ANG Tian Teck is a coach, trainer, and speaker, specialising in inspiring organisations and business leaders to deliver high impact presentations. He has coached, trained, and infected over 10,000 individuals across the region with his Amazing Sticky Presentations approach. Tian Teck is also the author of two books, Sticky Presentations, and Spinning I.D.E.A.S.

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