Don't hide your insecurities behind slides
I have assessed numerous presentations throughout my life and I can say with absolute certainty: people depend so much on their slides that they end up ignoring their quality. As contradictory as it may seem, the crude reality is that people unconsciously make a slide presentation to cope with insecurity (the fear of failing to recall a key point, the structure, or to deviate the attention of the audience, etc.) instead of a tool to enhance ideas and the presentation as whole. So what makes a good slide presentation?
A consistent design (e.g. readable font, font size, caps and lower case, etc.) and a sensible use of colours will enrich the presentation and convey the powerful message of professionalism. But design isn't enough, for I have seen beautifully-designed slides out there that failed on one aspect: poor concision. Slides polluted with words are oftentimes a symptom of poor preparation, one which spoils and make no justice to the effort made on creating an interesting design. On top of that, too much text will put people off and drain the audience's attention as they will unconsciously try to read it. So, focus on concision, key words and key ideas. The font size should be approximately 30 – if your ideas don’t fit, rethink them, reword them and bear in mind that slides aren’t there for you, but to complement the presentation and, ultimately, to guide the audience.
Choose a font that is easy to read.
Colours can awaken powerful emotions and feelings, so much so that they are studied in Marketing and Branding. So, choose a harmonious palette (1) that represents your ideas or your purpose.
Be consistent and edit mercilessly: don't use Times New Roman on a slide and Calibri on another, for consistency is vital. Revise spelling and punctuation mistakes or ask someone to do this.
Oftentimes an image can illustrate your ideas better than words; they can engage your audience and even inspire fruitful discussions, so why not explore them? Needless to say, always respect copyright.
Rethink and reword your ideas so that they fit in short sentences or key words.
Conceive each slide with your audience in mind, not yourself.
Ultimately, creating slides is a matter of sensibility and care.
Written by Daiane Publio Dias
(1) Colour calculator: https://www.sessions.edu/color-calculator/
My name is Daiane Publio Dias, and I help professionals, scientists and scholars create outstanding presentations and speak English flawlessly in a globalized world.