Yes, some of us have been around for longer than others but the chances are, most people in the workforce today will still remember overhead projectors, flip charts, and cue cards being essential tools of a great presentation – once upon a time. That’s how quickly things have changed!
Presentation technology, along with most methods of communication, has advanced considerably over the past few years along with audiences who expect so much more in the way of outstanding design, persuasive graphics, and an all-round immersive and engaging experience.
Indeed, there really is an art to designing presentations that meet the high expectations of a modern audience. So, it’s not surprising more and more businesses and professionals are calling upon the expertise of presentation designers to ensure they’ll still be taken seriously (and not left a little red-faced when they drag out that tired old flip chart along with the same old boring jokes and idioms!)
So, what do presentation designers know that you don’t?
Well, they know how to create engaging visual presentations that don’t bore people into a stupor. Here are just some of the essential qualities and components of effective presentation design.
An analytical and goal-oriented approach is a must
A presentation designer who’s worth their salt will know how to identify the purpose and objectives of any presentation, before they fire up their MacBook Pro and get click happy.
Once established, this information can be used to curate the content, flow, and organisation of information in a way that relates to the target audience and successfully strikes off all those key messages in a timely manner. Remember, no presentation should be too long!
Know how to strike the balance with clear and consistent design
This isn’t just about making things look pretty with all those exciting digital design tools we have at our disposal. While an attractive appearance is certainly important, like well-oiled cogs in a machine, the overall design throughout your presentation is what makes everything (your content) work together effectively.
A well-designed presentation will give clarity to your content and core messages while guiding your audience on a journey that develops coherent and logical arguments and stories. Visuals also play a vital role in facilitating this process and communicating your messages, provided you don’t go over the top. Too many visuals could become an unwanted distraction.
The building blocks of a persuasive story or argument
Great presentation designers are skilled in the art of narration. No, we’re not talking about writing novels here but instead, picking a narrative structure that targets those goals and deliverables effectively and fast.
This is about honing the problem or ideas, conveying them clearly and succinctly, and then putting some “meat on the bones” with relevant explanations, descriptions and supporting data.
Oh, and not forgetting how to draw those conclusions in the most persuasive way possible. Seriously, it’s not just books that have a beginning, middle, and an end – presentations do too.
How to speak to your audience
Knowing your audience plays a crucial role in effective presentation design. All presentations should be built around what your audience wants to know, needs to know, and how they typically like to communicate.
For example, if you’re designing a presentation for a select group of professionals, it pays to think about their experience level, language, and the terminology they use in order to capture their attention, make a more personal connection, and really contribute to their knowledge of key concepts and ideas.
Put another way, a presentation designer who achieves results is one who never repeats what the audience already knows, nor fails to address knowledge gaps which could leave the audience hanging – dangerously!
How to make a little go a long way
The most effective presentations are those that are both remarkable and memorable, and this has a lot to do with how effective a presentation designer is at converting complex issues, concepts and data into simple and appealing slides. Trust us, there is nothing worse for killing engagement or causing confusion than busy, wordy slides with designs that chop and change.
Generally, it’s preferable to stick to one idea per slide with short and punchy text, while using colour and typography consistently to maintain flow.
To add depth to arguments and spark emotion – the ingredients of a more immersive experience – great presentation designers will spot every cue for powerful images and visuals along the way.
And of course, a little bit of wit on the side always helps things sink in!
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