The visual support of a presentation – the well-known slides – is an important tool to get people’s attention and explain complex concepts graphically.
To help you achieve a state-of-the-art layout, just like the SOAP’s ones, we have gathered tips from the biggest experts we know: our art directors! They are responsible for developing our clients’ visual identities and coordinating their presentations. Now, they have agreed on sharing their knowledge.
Check out seven valuable steps to frame more interesting and appealing slides, and hence a more convincing presentation.
Write a good script
If you thought you would come here just for visual tips, you were wrong. A truly impressive layout must be related to a good script.
The script and the layout work together, and they must be in tune. A well-built script allows us to perceive the main subjects to be discussed and where our focus should be on. With that in hand, it is easier to create slides to elucidate and add to the speech – rather than repeating the speaker. Besides, a precise script trims excesses, especially regarding the number of texts.
Decide on a visual identity
Creating a visual identity is elemental, whether it is intended as a product, an event or a brand. Just as we have explained here, colors, typeface, shapes, and symbols you choose are means to make your audience recognize your business, as well as granting a sense of wholeness to your presentation.
In addition, a visual identity conveys the values and essence of your project. Good news is: you only need to work on it once. Then you just apply the same pattern to further presentations – considering you are dealing with similar purpose, context, and audience.
For an example: if an IT professional gives a talk, about strategy, during a sales convention, the visual identity must be more distinctive, and make use of metaphors and animation effects to draw attention and connect the audience. However, if the same presentation is addressed to the Board of Directors, the visual must be different.
Divide the content into categories
It never gets old: in a good presentation, there is neither too much text nor illustrations on the same slide. Besides mangling the presentation, the overflow of information has a contrary effect: it compromises rather than helping comprehension.
So, opt for dividing the most complex projections into two or three slides, thereby offering a more clarifying material that will not confuse listeners. It would be dreadful if someone could not follow your line of thought because is trying to read the small letters or the 15 bullet points you have chosen.
One tip: divide the information of your presentation by messages, and use tools, such as ‘Click’, which inserts image or text on the slide, it makes the presentation more dynamic and visually enjoyable.
Contrast (of colors, sizes, and shapes) is an excellent tool to make a presentation more interesting and draw audience’s attention. The technique can be applied in different ways. So, be bold! You might create different sizes and typefaces for your texts, use contrasting colors to display information, and even vary the dimensions of your pictures. Such strategies increase the chances of your audience looking precisely at the information you want.
Choose illustrations carefully
Deciding on certain images and tone colors makes all the difference for your visual presentation. It is worth applying the psychology of colors: each tonality triggers a different feeling in people. Calmness, mental strain, and even hunger can be set off by specific colors, hence the reason to find images with tone colors suitable for the subject matter being discussed.
We must also always make sure to choose illustrations that make sense in the context of the keynote. Avoid old or low-quality images and try to follow a pattern. Do not put together in the same presentation pictures, drawings or other types of illustrations.
The way you arrange objects on the slide imparts organization and clarity (or else!). Therefore, for the layout of your presentation, make good use of tools, such as contrast, pay attention to the text alignment and page margin. Organize your information in a way that is both delightful and meaningful.
You may find different examples of layout in newspapers and magazines. So, if you are out of ideas on how to design your presentation, just grab the first publication near you.
Search for references
A good technique to help you take in so many tips is to search for examples to study. On our website download page, you find the e-books developed by the same team that has shared these tips.
However, if you still need some help, we are here for you.
When you go to a restaurant, even before placing your order, you judge the quality of the place by its decoration and cleanliness. Savoring a good dish and getting an efficient waiter service will obviously be the main reasons to decide whether you liked the place, however, a cozy environment also influences your final impression. The same thing happens in presentations where a well-trained speaker and a good message are the core of the talk, but when added to well-framed slides and a professional layout, they provide a lot more reliability.
A sales team, for an example, may lose a client with an amateur layout. When a salesperson presents to a prospect a product/service portfolio, or even a specific solution, he/she wants to make an impact. The goal is to convince the other person to close the deal. Ugly, disorganized slides, with low-quality pictures and a typeface difficult to read make a terrible first impression. By the end of the meeting, you may even convince your prospect due to the quality of the speech, but, sometimes, the first impression is what matters.
A speech will make a smaller or bigger impact depending on the presentation design. A thoughtful presentation aligned with the visual identity of the company reveals there were preparation and investment for the meeting.
Cheapest is dearest. Bellow, we list some common problems with amateur layouts that might harm presentation outcomes and, therefore, lead your company to opportunity losses:
Too much information results in confusion
One slide, 15 different bullet points and a speaker who just reads the information from the screen. The consequence is an unclear central message – whether it is because the speaker could not attach great importance to the content, or the audience, disoriented, did not know where to focus their attention on. It is impossible to generate engagement like this. The information on the screen should just add to what the speaker is saying, rather than be his/her exact words. Professionals who develop accomplished presentations can help presenters to choose between what goes on the slides and what must be spoken.
People do not understand (or cannot see) the numbers on the screen
A common mistake in presentations that use numbers, like result meetings, is to simply copy data from Excel and paste it into PowerPoint. Usually, charts and tables have lots of numbers and use small letters. The audience is forced to make an unnecessary effort to read what is on the screen, therefore overlooking what the speaker has to say. Even worse, they are utterly confused and their ability to decide is harmed. Those trained to design professional presentations are also able to choose numbers, tell the story behind them and highlight them in a way that the audience understands.
Too much time wasted assembling presentations
Usually, people in charge of assembling corporate presentations are not experts in design. Consequently, they will have to put a lot of time and effort to produce a visually acceptable material. However, it would be more efficient to have those professionals focusing their energy on their area of expertise, therefore producing results for the company, and outsource the presentation-making process. Wasting working hours of trained professionals in a struggle against the PowerPoint is a questionable use of their time, which could be used for so many other relevant tasks regarding the company.
If your company needs to plan and develop presentations with a professional layout, you can rely on SOAP to help you!
Elon Musk is one of the most talked about entrepreneurs of the moment. He is the CEO of SpaceX, which built Falcon Heavy, a high capacity rocket launched into space in February 2018 carrying an unlikely passenger: a Tesla Motors car, company that he also runs. Musk’s trademark is innovation, hence the reason why many experts of the industry believe he might be the next Steve Jobs of the entrepreneurial world.
Behind his fame, of course, there are hard work and a unique way of leadership. One of Tesla’s goals, for instance, is to become the world’s safest car factory. Between 2014 and 2015, however, reports showed that the number of accidents involving employees was high. It was of central importance for Musk to make an announcement in such a decisive moment. At the time, one of his emails concerning the statistics leaked out. His message still reverberates as a lesson on how to manage a crisis.
EMPATHY IS THE KEY
‘No words can express how much I care about your safety and well-being. It breaks my heart when someone is injured building cars and trying their best to make Tesla successful. Going forward, I’ve asked that every injury be reported directly to me, without exception. I’m meeting with the safety team every week and would like to meet with every injured person as soon as they are well, so that I can understand from them exactly what we need to do to make it better. I will then go down to the production line and perform the same task that they perform. This is what all managers at Tesla should do as a matter of course. At Tesla, we manage from the front line, not from some safe and comfortable ivory tower. Managers must always put their team’s safety above their own.’
The email’s great achievement is empathy. Musk expresses himself respectfully and analyzes the matter from someone else’s perspective, not only from his own’s. He puts himself in the position of those who suffered the accident, and, at the same time, he communicates with other employees who are afraid of being in one. Here at SOAP we believe this is the great lesson Musk teaches us regarding that situation.
We have decided to make a deep analysis of his email, so you too may be more empathetic in strategic and decisive situations such as that one:
– The first part sounds like “we are all human beings, and we respect each other”. He is a leader driven by emotions, and not only by the reasoning of a company owner, who positions himself above others.
– After expressing his feelings, he takes action. He makes decisions, begins to take preventive measures, and not just corrective ones. Musk literally gets down to work, he wants to understand the process to prevent new problems from happening again.
– Lastly, he makes it clear he is facing the problem and truly wants to know every detail of the situation. He emphasizes it is indeed part of the company’s culture: not to lead from a distance, sitting on a chair, watching from above.
– By using the pronoun “we” at the end of the email, Musk arouses emotional connection. He proves no to be either above or below anyone, but on the same level.
When the CEO’s words reached employees’ inbox, they triggered a positive feeling. First, they meant he was making a stand. It is not rare to see leaders who exempt themselves from problems they are facing. Lack of communication. They seem to believe people will stop talking about it if they just quieten declarations. What really happens, nevertheless, is that the lack of accurate information only increases gossips and the feeling of insecurity. Moreover, it encourages lack of accountability. People feel neither accountable for nor committed to anything. After all, it is all kept in a safe box by the one person who can solve everything alone.
Musk’s attitude has no degree of paternalism either. It is very common, during a crisis, for some leaders to say everything is fine in the intention of calming everyone down; they just say it is going to be fine and there is no need for panic, but they explain nothing and take no action.
Companies that open their numbers, information and strategies are transparent. In addition, Musk revealed his human side as a leader, which inspired trustworthiness and admiration. You encourage people, instead of demotivating or frightening them. What remains is the feeling everyone may and should act the same way. During a period of crisis, a leader must, above all, evoke the team’s desire to overcome a bad situation.
It is most likely that Musk’s choices are on the right track, since Tesla’s total recordable incident rate (TRIR) at the Fremont California factory improved 25% in 2017 in comparison with 2016, as shown on this blog posted by the company – https://www.tesla.com/blog/becoming-safest-car-factory-world .
Well done, Musk!
While making a presentation, communicating with each and every one like if you were talking to them individually allows you to create a unique bond with the audience. This is the kind of result that those able to control empathy achieve.
But what does empathy mean? Empathy is when you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes, trying to understand their opinions and emotions. It’s not about feeling the same way or agreeing with the other person but respecting and understanding their ideas, feelings and speech.
Empathy can be described by the idea of rapport, a concept of psychology that represents harmonic bonds among people. This synergy enables interaction and exchange of information. It leads to respectful and healthy relationships.
Empathy during presentations
While preparing a presentation and during the process of creating the script, you must think about content but also about the way your audience wants to receive the information. Knowing the audience is the best way to develop a bond between the presenter and the public.
Try to find out what your audience already knows about the subject, what they don’t, what messages are they supposed to register and to what cultural environment they belong. Is it a formal or informal audience? Would they appreciate numbers or stories? These are some ways to get closer to your audience and create an empathetic bond.
If you feel you are not being empathetic, don’t worry, we’ve good news for you. This is a skill that can be developed.
- The first advice is to call people by their names
Human beings seek individual connection. When answering a question to the audience ask their names and call them by their first name. When it comes to interaction with the audience, ask rhetorical questions which do not really need to be answered. In doing so, you make the audience think and feel like you are establishing a direct connection.
- Always smile
Scientific studies verified that we have a group of cells called mirror neurons and that by simply observing other people’s action, activates the same areas in the observer’s brain. So, if you express joy it will help your listeners to feel the same way you do.
- Match the rhythm
Pay close attention to your listeners: do they speak fast? Do they speak slowly or move a lot? Try to interact with the listeners the way they interact with you. By doing so the audience will understand better the message you want to deliver. Vary your tone of voice and the rhythm to reach a larger number of people while speaking.
- Don’t be judgmental
An attitude that destroys empathy is judgment.
“That guy is so boring! When will he stop asking questions?”. In order to not be judgmental, you must break through your “reality dome” built by your experiences, jump into the other person’s realm and understand the world through their eyes taking their perspective, emotions and behavior. People see the world based on who they are. When using only personal references and beliefs, you build a wall to empathy. Remember: respect and understanding. “Yes, he really asks too many questions but that is probably because he wants to understand and know better the subject”.
A communicator can’t judge the audience. Instead, he should understand their needs.
With these advices you can start establishing empathy in your presentations and ace on your next one.
What your first slide needs to DO
A presentation needs to convey much more than may be obvious. Just by the way it looks, for example, your audience will be drawing conclusions about you and your business even before you start to describe what you have to offer.
And it all starts with the slide being displayed as people are coming into the meeting room. Do they see a desktop full of shortcuts that says nothing about you?
Or a PowerPoint interface to the slides of your presentation that says nothing about you?
Do they see open files displaying proposals or cost calculations that say nothing about the total you?
What your first slide needs to BE
Before you design a PowerPoint presentation, it’s crucial to develop a first slide that will generate interest and excitement in everything you’re about to say. A visual that features key aspects of your brand along with the key concept of your presentation. A visual that makes people curious, maybe even intrigued. After all, this is a fantastic opportunity to promote your company, so why waste it again advertising Microsoft PowerPoint’s main interface?
As people come in the room and see that first slide, they need to want to be interested in your company.
It’s that first slide that can provide the spark that will make your audience want to know you better and hear what you have to say.