Webinar Wrap-Up: More Q & A with Laura Foley

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In our May 18th webinar, Cheating Death by PowerPoint with presentation designer Laura Foley, the questions were coming faster than we could share them with both Laura and the attendees. Our presenter was kind enough to answer many of the webinar questions so we could share them with you.

To watch the webinar and get the handouts, click here


Question:
Do you have any tips for a “welcome” slide that might be used during opening speeches, etc. but not actually referenced directly?

Answer:
It’s always a good idea to have your organization’s logo, the name of your presentation, your name and your contact information on your opening slide. Repeat this at the end of the presentation so people know how to get in touch with you if they have questions.  See example below:

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Question:
Do you have font recommendations? Including size

Answer:
Think of a slide as a billboard. If you have to slow down to read it, then the type is too small. While I have no set and fast rule for point sizes of type on a slide, I try to make the text very large so that people can read it no matter how far away from the screen they may be.

Question:
I notice you use a lot of Orange against a white background. Has this combination been proven successful or just your preference?

Answer:
It’s one of my corporate colors.

Question:
How do you work with (around?) a mandatory company template or one that is a very generic company background?

Answer:
I use the typeface and colors specified in the template, but I’ll usually never use the established text boxes and bullet points. I prefer to use very large text on a slide and no bullet points. Also, you can make text bold, italic, or all caps to give it many different looks while still using the same typeface.

Question:
Are gradients opportunity or threat?

Answer:
Now that flat design is the rage, I don’t use as many gradients. When I do, they’re very subtle. Any gradient and highlight that makes a graphic look three-dimensional or glasslike also make it look dated.

Question:
Could you comment on using company logos and names, etc. in the footer?

Answer:
Do it if the client demands it. Otherwise, you can just use it at the beginning and the end of the presentation. By deleting the standard header and footer, you free up a lot more slide real estate to be used for information.

Question:
What do you think about decorative themes? For example, if we create a title slide that looks like a movie poster (maybe an ocean theme to discuss a “deep dive” into a subject)…do you think keeping ocean imagery on every slide is cohesive and engaging, or purely decorative and distracting?

Answer:
There’s nothing wrong with being creative with your slides. But if the theme is as you suggest a “deep dive,” that’s just another way of saying an in-depth view of a subject. I wouldn’t carry the “deep dive” analogy through every slide, maybe just the title. Make sure that the design of your slide reflects the content of the presentation, not the type of presentation it is.

Question:
What is the best font to use for numbers (like in charts)?

Answer:
The same typeface that is standard for the template you’re using.

Question:
What are your thoughts on using custom (non-standard) fonts?

Answer:
It’s amazing! Your presentations will look different from everyone else’s, which helps make them memorable. For more ideas, and step-by-step instructions on how to do it, click here.

About Laura Foley:
As the Cheater of Death by PowerPoint, Laura Foley provides training and presentation design services to help people communicate their ideas and be better presenters. She has worked with Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, General Dynamics, Juniper Networks, Harvard Business School, DST, Eloqua, EMC, TE Connectivity, and VMware and has conducted training sessions at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Simmons College, the Central Mass Business Expo, and the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst. Her speaking engagements include HOW Design Live, the largest conference for creative professionals in the world. A graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Laura has over two decades’ experience in presentation design, marketing, and copywriting. She lives in Central Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. Laura serves as Cubmaster and Den Leader for Hubbardston Cub Scouts Pack 12. It’s like herding cats, but more rewarding.

In the Trenches: Real World Solutions to Corporate Presentation Challenges

We know best practices for presentations (“Use less text!” “Create separate handouts!” “Avoid bullets points!”), but the realities of corporate America often get in the way when we sit down in front of the computer. In this webinar, presentation strategist Nolan Haims shares numerous techniques and strategies, developed out of pure necessity, for achieving best practices while still meeting tight deadlines and contending with difficult clients.

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  • Multiple tactics for encouraging less text and fewer bullet points, including the disappearing content trick and the ridiculously simple “chunking” technique
  • Leveraging PowerPoint’s Notes view in unique ways to effortlessly create well-designed and distinctly different handouts
  • Creating “reskinnable” templates that can be turned into custom presentations in minutes
  • Keeping presentations highly editable through vector graphics and PowerPoint image-editing techniques
  • Breaking out of PowerPoint-think with “walking” and portrait print decks

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About Nolan Haims:

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After careers in theater and the circus, Nolan Haims moved into the world of presentation, creating presentations for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading financial institutions, and all the major television networks. Most recently, Nolan was a Vice President at Edelman, the world’s largest PR firm, where he oversaw presentation and visual communications. He blogs at PresentYourStory.com.

 

20 Top PowerPoint Design Tips

In order to create an amazing PowerPoint presentation, you have to learn the process of effective presentation design. After four years of blogging, I’ve written a number of posts designed to help presenters create better, visually engaging and effective PowerPoint presentations. As all blogs posts do, some resonated better than others and often provided great discussion in the comments.

Instead of forcing you to sift through my site, page after page, I have aggregated 20 of my best blog posts, including the five most viewed post written in 2011, to help you become a better PowerPoint presentation designer. Post types include specific presentation design techniques, book reviews, tips, methods, and more.

So without further adieu, here are the best PowerPoint presentation design posts from Presentation Advisors to make you a better presentation designer in 2012.

The 5 Most Viewed Posts in 2011:

  1. 20 Steps to Become a Presentation Design Hero – There’s no set path to become a presentation designer, but here are a few steps I’ve taken to get where I am today.
  2. 5 Tips to Perfect Your Slideshare Presentation – SlideShare has been a godsend for sharing PowerPoint presentations, PDFs and more. But just because Slideshare is a good platform, does not mean your presentation will be seen without some extra work. Follow these tips to make sure it looks great.
  3. Alternatives to PowerPoint – I write a lot about PowerPoint design, but it’s not the end-all-be-all to effective presentations. Here are a few options if you’d like to take a different route.
  4. 5 Reasons Your Last Presentation Bombed – Yes, presenting isn’t all rainbows and smiles. Some of them don’t go as planned, and others flat out bomb (whether you realize it or not). It happens to the best of us, even me. Here’s a few reasons why that may have happened.
  5. If No Bullets in My PowerPoint, Then What? –  If you read a lot of presentation blogs, you’ve heard numerous authors (including myself) preach about the necessary demise of bullet points in PowerPoint. However, one common complaint of readers (rightfully so) was that there were few specific alternatives. Here are over a dozen.Here are the rest of my top blog posts:
  1. 5 Ways to Start Your Presentation Off Strong – You’ve got seconds to grab your audience’s attention, and only a few minutes to keep it. Technology has made it even worse where you’re competing with audience members dual-tasking on their computers or smartphones. Learn how to grab their attention quickly in this post.
  2. 100 Presentation Tips – Here are 100+ presentation tips for preparation, design and delivery to make your next presentation your best, as well as a few extra submitted by readers. There’s a link to download the list as a PDF as well, which you’re welcome to pass along.
  3. PowerPoint Design Methods – There’s much discussion about the best PowerPoint design method.  How many slides should be used?  What font size?  How fast should I transition through them?  I’ve insisted that there is no right PowerPoint method. This post includes a few popular PowerPoint presentation design methods and theories that have worked well for some established presenters.
  4. The Best Presentation Design Tool – Here I reveal my most useful tool to aid in finding effective presentation imagery. Best of all, it’s free.
  5. A New Spin on the Old Agenda Slide – I had just recently sat in on a presentation that used, like many others, a bullet-point agenda slide with black text on a white background.  I decided to show how, with just a few steps, an agenda slide could be improved [before and after images included].  I credit the inspiration to Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen method and an agenda slide I saw during a live presentation of his I attended.
  6. Breaking Down Steve Jobs’ WWDC Keynote Presentation – We all mourned the passing of Steve Jobs on October 5th, 2011. We’re all lucky to have lived while he changed the technology landscape again and again. In June of 2010, Steve Jobs took the stage for another magical keynote experience (not just a presentation). I decided to break it down for you all of you, highlighting his approach to the WWDC 2010 keynote presentation and what elements create the masterpieces we are used to seeing.
  7. PowerPoint Before and After – Various Slide Types – Often it’s useful to see not only the finished product, but the original product as well. In this post I show you some of my personal slide redesigns, including before and after shots with my commentary on the process of designing each slide.
  8. 5 Ways to WOW at Your Next Presentation – We’re all trying to find a way to rise above the rest – to separate ourselves from the crowd. There seems to be a common path that most presenters take, and the trail is painfully worn down. Use some of these tips to give your audience something they don’t expect at your next presentation.
  9. What’s Wrong with PowerPoint Templates? – Templates and me have a love-hate relationship.  I love to hate them…especially those found within PowerPoint (there are a few nice ones on Keynote).  It’s not necessarily the visual design, it’s the tired, played-out road that the templates bring most presenters down.  I wanted to write a post that not only highlighted some of the pitfalls of using a template, but also the advantages of going “freestyle.”  Some good comments as well.
  10. The Effective Use of White Space in Advertising – I’m a huge fan of utilizing white space (or blank space and isn’t necessarily white).  I wrote this post to highlight some great uses of white space in popular ads, as well as how it can be applied to presentation design.
  11. Book Review – Brain Rules by Dr. John Medina – One of my favorite books of 2009 was Brain Rules.  This book not only breaks down the mysteries of the brain using language that we all can understand, but many of the rules apply to presentation design (namely catching and keeping your audience’s attention).  In the post I highlighted three of those rules that you can apply to your presentation tomorrow.
  12. Reducing the Amount of Text on your PowerPoint Slides – When clients come to me, they often have a presentation completed, however it’s full of bullet points and absent any vibrant imagery. Here I walk you through the process of how I remove the text and add appropriate imagery, while still conveying the main idea of the slide.
  13. Book Review – The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs – Steve Jobs was one of the greatest presenters working the keynote stage. Carmine Gallo breaks down his presentation style and teaches you how to be great in front of any audience.
  14. 5 Bits of PowerPoint Advice that will Land You in Presentation Prison -Bad presentation design tips are a dime a dozen, and I’ve heard all the excuses.  Here are 5 bits of presentation advice that you should avoid at all costs.
  15. Perception and PowerPoint Design – Your audience may perceive you in many different ways.  Some may find you interesting, while others may be fighting to keep their eyelids open. Are your PowerPoint presentations leading the audience to perceive you in the wrong way?  
    About the Author:

    Jon Thomas is the founder of Presentation Advisors, a presentation design and training firm based in southern Connecticut. For more on his company’s services, visit his website at www.presentationadvisors.com

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