Slide Diets – Tricks to Slim Down Your Content

Bethany Auck, a talented presentation designer and graphic artist, explains ways that users can slim down their content on PowerPoint slides to create more powerful presentations.


Sharyn Fitzpatrick:          Good morning, good afternoon, and good evening, depending on where you are in the world. Thank you for joining us today. My name is Sharyn Fitzpatrick, and I’m the editor of PresentationXpert and your moderator for today’s event, “Slide Diets: Design Tricks to Slim Down Your Content” with Bethany Auck. We want to thank Bethany for joining us. I’ve been through the presentation, I think you’re going to learn a lot.

We also want to thank our sponsor, Citrix GoToWebinar, who is offering you a free 30 day trial, and you’ll have information in your handout section for you to follow up if you’d like to try Citrix. We’re using Citrix today, and it’s one of my favorites. Also, I’ve included another handout, which is a copy of Bethany’s slides from today. So feel free to download that as well. We are very excited at PresentationXpert to continue to connect with our audience. There’s a large number of you out there, over 150,000, and we connect to you on all types of social media. You guys have been wonderful about sending me emails about topics and ideas, and I hope you’ll continue to do that.

At this time, what I’d like to do is introduce Bethany, who is an incredibly talented and exceptional presentation and graphic artist designer. She just knows her stuff inside and out. So what I’d like to do is welcome her and let her tell us maybe a little bit about herself and start sharing her information. Bethany?

Bethany Auck:   Great. Thanks so much, Sharyn. I am so excited to be here today. Sharyn mentioned, we are going to talk about slide diets today. When Sharyn approached me about doing this webinar, I was trying to think, “What is the problem that I see the most commonly with our clients?” When we do presentations, about 95% of our work is presentation design, and it is absolutely trying to figure out how to communicate most powerfully with slides.

So when it comes down to it, that’s all about figuring out what to leave on your slides and what to take off of it. So, today we’re going to learn how to communicate more clearly with our visual aids, by reducing our content, learning to communicate with more than just words, and we’ll also look at some display tips and tricks so that we can communicate the most important information the most clearly. I tried to lose a few pounds before, I’m sure you’ve gone over these rules for your own plate situation.

First up is portion control. We have to figure out what we can remove from our daily diets and what we can remove from our slide content, so that the information that’s the most important for our bodies and for our audience can get through. Next is including some quality ingredients. So, going with healthier options, more spices. Same with slides, it’s all about figuring out what we can add to our slides so that our communication can be immediately digestible to our audience and thus more memorable.

And then finally we’ll look at plating, and that’s all about tricking the eye. So we’re going to figure out some display tricks so that our lots of content can look simple and direct.

Okay. First step is portion control. This is absolutely both in dieting and slide dieting. The thing that people have the most trouble with. It’s the simplest one, it’s the simplest way, I should say, to improve your content. The less content you have, the more people can actually absorb it. But it’s definitely the one that meets the most resistance, at least in my experience.

Text Pruning

First up, text pruning. I’m sure you’ve heard it a 100 times. The more text on your slide, the less effective your slide is. Let’s take a quick look. Okay. So we’re going to go through a bunch of before and afters in this deck. A lot of these are real client material, they’ve been anonymized or dummy texted, but we are going to use some real life examples. So this is a real life example of essentially what we generally receive towards the beginning of a project. What happens when people start to write their slides and how we end up with slides like this is I think that people begin to write for how they want to speak, and I’m sure that a lot of you guys out there have sat through an entire presentation of what seems like speaker notes.

And that’s what we’re looking at here. This looks like a script. So when I start to work with a client on how to reduce content like this, and of course they feel like every bullet is critical, there’s still some things that we can look at to use as red flags to say, “Here’s a spot where we know that we’re not writing in a presentation mode, but instead we’re writing in a mode for speaking or we’re writing in a mode for how we might write in a report or an email to summarize these points to someone.” Presentation writing has got to be more succinct and direct so that people can find that important information right away, and so that you can keep your audience’s attention on you as you go.

Okay. So what are those red flags that we can look for? First thing would be anything that’s patently obvious. Okay? Clearly this is a background slide, it probably came in the beginning of the presentation. It’s got a whole bunch of background information. This is something that we do not need to use the space in our title to cover. Titles are really important billing on your slide. They’re generally the biggest text. So we want to be argumentative and we want to give people any idea of what the slide is going to teach them in our title, rather than just using it for fluff words like a basic grounder.

Next red flag is always to look for some redundancy. You can see here that even though now our title of our slide will be Tourette Syndrome. Tourette Syndrome or its little abbreviation, TS, appears in almost every single bullet on this slide. So, not only do we need to figure out how to reduce that redundancy, but it’s also a red flag for us to say, “This is clear that I’m not writing in presentation writing mode.” And those are places to look in your bullets to see where can I shorten this up so that I’m getting just the most succinct phrases onto my slide.

Another thing to look for, colloquial speech or connectors that don’t really need to be there. So in most patients, that’s something you can say while you’re presenting it. Something you might write if you’re sending a report along, but not something that needs to be on the slide. So again, more red flags to say, “Here’s a clue for where we can see that we are not writing in presentation writing mode.”

What If The Slide Deck Needs to Stand Alone?

Sharyn: I do have a question. What do you do if the deck needs to stand alone by itself?

Bethany:              A great question, and we are going to cover both live and standalone slides throughout this webinar. So I will try to queue for you which one is which using them for your live presentation, but then you’re also sending them as your handout. Ideally, and this of course is limited by resources and time, ideally you have two sets of the slides. One is the very simple presentation writing, and then the other can include a lot of that extra information that’s necessary when the slides need to stand alone.

Although that sounds like a big time suck, it really is important because people cannot read and listen to you at the same time, they will tune you out, they will read instead of listening, and they can read faster than you can speak. So by the time you are getting to the third bullet, they’re done, they tune back into you and they’re hearing repeat information, and then they’re gone, they’re glazed out and they’re bored, they’re checking their text messages. So, the more we can do to get that content off the screen for a live presentations it really is going to help you communicate more clearly.

What If You’re Giving Out Handouts?

Sharyn: Terrific. Another questions people have is, would you still prune it if this was going to be given as a handout?

Bethany:              I still would prune it. I would do some things differently here. I would keep Tourette Syndrome in the top and then I would still shorten my bullets up and I would still use some visual cues, which we’ll talk about later in the webinar, but there’s still some text on here that’s extra, that’s very pros like, I think they can still be shortened into more succinct points so that even in a standalone deck, you’re communicating quickly, you always want to be giving people less to read so that they can digest what they actually do need to process.

So, once we take all that stuff out, here’s what we’ve got. This is still a lot of text, and quite honestly, I think it still could probably standalone, people know what they’re looking for on this slide, maybe a few more words in cues for a standalone slide, but this is the beginning of text pruning to get down to where we need to be so that we can move forward into design and create a slide that’s going to really hit home and communicate clearly and simply to the audience. So this still has a long way to go, but here’s where you want to get before you even get into trying to design the slide with the rest of the tricks we’re talking about.

So we talked about redundancy during text pruning a little bit there, but it doesn’t just occur in text slides or heavily texted slides. You can also see it pop up in graphic slides. So, this is an original client slide. We’re seeing a lot of redundancy on it. For instance, we’ve got 4D and the 4Ds popping up all over the place, and then the labels for all the Ds are all over the place as well. This is a really good cue because you can see how close together some of these pink circles are, the titles of the blurbs and the second word of each one of the blurbs are the same word. This is a very big red flag that we can say we can shorten up a lot of this content.

This is standalone slide. So you’ll see that once we remove that, there still is a fair amount of text, but we haven’t lost any meaning. It’s still very clear that we’re talking about these 4Ds, what the 4Ds are and the blurbs that describe each of the 4Ds. However, does anybody see any opportunities to take this one a little bit further? When we’re looking for redundancy, one of the lessons I’ve learned is you can almost always find one more thing to take off. And in this situation, it’s all about the title. I mentioned earlier that your title space is really important, but your graphic in your title say the exact same thing.

So once we move into design with a slide like this, we’ll be looking at something a little bit more powerful where now the graphic is really its own title. The blurbs are the secondary and really the tertiary information. Then we have that little subtitle that you probably didn’t read on either of the two previous versions. That’s now getting some nice billing there at the bottom, it’s been promoted to a little bit of a higher in the hierarchy of important of information. It’s much clearer to our audience now why we care about the 4Ds, what they are, and then, as the tertiary information, we have the longer explanation of what each of those phases means.

I talked a little bit there about promoting information up and down on the importance hierarchy, and that’s really important when you’re talking, especially those of you who are doing eLearning courses, like there was several of you during introductions, prioritizing the information so that your users, your audience, can immediately figure out what they need to be really taking away from the slide is so important. Okay, this next slide, everybody take a breath. When I showed this to my husband, he was like, “I have immediate anxiety about this slide.” And I agree.

First of all, all the text is in Latin, that’s just filler text just to remove the client’s information. So, don’t try to read it, it’s not in English. But English or not, it’s very clear that there’s so much on this slide that it’s impossible to figure out where to look. We’ve got this big key finding at the top, we’ve got all this information in the middle and then an implication at the bottom, and nothing is really promoted over anything else. It’s very difficult to figure out what’s the information that I need to be taking away from the slide.

So we worked with the client to figure out, what can just go away? What’s granular enough that we can just boot it off the slide? And we got to here, which is closer, but we’ve still got just lots of competing information. And during design you can use font sizing and boldness and colors to give things higher and lower billing, but sometimes it’s even about just giving stuff its own space. So, when we moved fully into design, they decided, the clients decided, that really the key finding and the evidence about the key finding are one piece of the puzzle altogether. But then the really important piece is the implication here, where we get to say, “This is what you need to take away from the slide.”

So we’ve promoted that right off the slide onto its own slide. Now it gets its own billing, it’s top billing right now with a whole bunch of negative space around it, so that when the learners … This was actually a new learning course. When the learners get to it, they say, “Oh, here’s my main takeaway from all of that crazy stuff on the last slide, here’s what I need to learn, here’s what I need to digest and remember.”

So, promoting and demoting things up and down and on the importance hierarchy is really important to slides that communicate clearly. Okay. So now we’ve gone through portion control, definitely the toughest of the three sections to put into usage. Does anyone have questions or have you had issues with any of these tactics excited to put any of them to use?

What If There’s a Slide Limit?

Sharyn: We actually have a couple of questions. Number one, “What if your boss says 10 slides only or something similar to that?”

Bethany:              Got you. Yes, we also hear this all the time. My boss says 10 slides only, but what your boss is not asking for is 10 slides with the content of 50 slides on them. He really wants 10 slides. Sometimes there’s that sneaky boss who wants 10 slides, and then he wants all the detail as well. Here’s what I tell people, if your boss wants 10 slides, he wants you to zoom out. He wants you to look for the 10,000 foot view, find the summary, find the important facts, put those on your slides.

And if you’ve got the sneaky boss who’s going to ask you to do that and then he is going to ask to see the underlying information and he’s going to ask to see the graphs and he is going to ask to see the testimonials, whatever it is, put those in what we call backup slides or back pocket slides. Those are hidden slides in your deck or just out of your main narrative in your lineup of slides that you can either call up by their slide number or you can call up with little links. We put like little hyperlinks on the slides that might get the most questions from sneaky boss.

And that way, when he says, “I don’t know about that, I want to see the numbers.” And you say, “Absolutely, I already have it prepared.” And then you didn’t have to cram it onto your slide in the case that no one asked about it, you’ve still got a nicely communicating main point slide, and then you’re still armed with that information in the case that you need it during the presentation.

Sharyn: We have another question from Steve, “Any recommendations for portion control and eLearning where a client requires no audio?”

Bethany:              Okay. So, portion control and eLearning where your client requires no audio. That’s a fun challenge. I think definitely later we’re going to talk about some animation and transition tricks that will help you put more content on the slide without it feeling like more content and those might help. So a lot of appearing and disappearing the relevant content as the user clicks through, or we’re going to show you some ways to split content between slides so that it doesn’t seem like you’ve split content between slides, but for the viewer, it’s feeling a lot more calm and a lot less overwhelming as far as the amount of content on each slide.

Sharyn: Okay. I’m going to have it go back to you so we stay on track. We’ve got a ton of questions coming in.

Bethany:              Oh good.

Sharyn: We’ll chime in as we see appropriate, or we will save them for Q&A at the end.

Adding Content to Slides / Data Display

Bethany:              Okay. Sounds good. Perfect. We’ll just move right on then. So next is quality ingredients, and again, this is the stuff that we are going to add to our slides to make them more effective. And first we’ll talk about data display. Data display is really common issue because slides are very often used to communicate datas and graphs and trends and info and all this stuff. We get a lot of slides like this, and the client says, “Well, it’s all just really important.” So here’s the table.


If you have a table of data, there’s usually, in like 90% of cases, maybe 99, no reason to not graph it. This takes a lot of the audience’s time to parse. Okay. I’m looking for which grants these are and what the strategy is, and I’m all over the place. But really when it comes down to it, when we’re trying to make more powerful slides, what we want to do is tell the audience what they need to know rather than making them draw the conclusions and look through the content themselves. We want to make everything as obvious as possible.


So when it comes to data, if there’s a way you can graph it, please do. Comes out looking like this, it’s very clear to the eye. Okay. Now we’ve grouped the strategies of the different grants together. We’re really only looking at education grants and there’s only two strategies within, and it’s obvious which ones have gotten the best funding and which ones maybe in more next time. This is much clearer to your audience than asking them to evaluate a table where things aren’t even in order of the amount that was given.

And then we can take it just a little bit further and pull education into the title. You see again, that originally we had this down in the strategy because that’s where it was in the table, but when you take another look at it, doesn’t really make sense to have both labeled education. So, more redundancy that we can further simplify. These are all education grants and there’s two strategies. Now we can use our icons to more directly relate to our strategies. Icons are up next. Everybody loves icons, but it’s not just that they’re cute and they’re fun, and it’s a good way to get visuals on your slide, they actually have value.


So, here is a typical roadmap slide. This is for like a several hour session on cybersecurity. And they came back to this slide between every section and they highlighted the words for the next section. And quite honestly, it just becomes a throwaway slide because nobody’s going to read it every time, and it’s pretty obvious when you’re moving onto sections. So we wanted to create some value there, and instead we gave each section an icon.

So they would introduce the section and the icon at the beginning, and then as we moved through the deck, they could use this icon as a little mnemonic brain device on each slide within the section. So that as the audience is watching this, maybe they tune out, send a text message, tune back in, they can see, “Oh, that’s still the phishing icon. I know what we’re talking about, I know where we are, and I feel oriented … recognize them faster than we recognize words or faster than we can translate words into ideas. They’re just images that translate very easily for our brains into ideas, easy to remember. And so, you can use them to correlate content together within a slide or even across the presentation.

Diagrams and Timelines

Okay. Diagrams and timelines. This is a similar idea to icons, and even data display. Our brains are really good at interpreting relational and spatial relationships if they can see it right there in front of them visually. However, if you’re given this kind of a slide and you have to use your reading comprehension skills and make connections yourself, first of all, you’re unlikely to even do so in a live presentation. And honestly, if this came across my desk, well, didn’t come across my desk, but I am paid to read it. If someone sent this to me as a sales slide, I wouldn’t give this the time of day, I’m not even sure I would read these paragraphs.

And this was for a pitch deck. So when I talk to this client about really trying to communicate these ideas differently, the few sentences I can explain to you when I’m showing you my slides that after the internet, the buyers have all this knowledge and the sellers are trying to keep up by figuring out what the market prices are and where people can comparison shop et cetera. That’s probably two sentences to replace that two paragraphs worth of text on the original slide.

And the other thing about diagrams and people always say, “Well, I’m not a designer.” I get it. But if you look at this diagram, besides the small icons, everything is just a native PowerPoint shape that spatially you can arrange. These are all available in your shape menu in PowerPoint. And so if you can just start to challenge yourself to start to lay things out in a visual way and use those diagrams even when words feel safer, you will be communicating more clearly and more memorably to your audience.

Okay, this is timelines. So again, our brains are very good at interpreting visuals, but if we give us a whole bunch of words, there’s a little bit of bouncing back and forth between these two columns to figure out when things happened in time and how related are they. Here’s where we are in both companies today. It’s just a little bit more fun for your brain, honestly, which is going to create engagement with your audience, also so important.

One little trick on timelines. I don’t think smart art and some of those things give a lot of great timeline options, they’re very easy to create, use a one row table and just put your ears in the table and then you can shrink and expand it and it will all stay even, and you can just move, these are just little dots and lines, you can just move those along to create the actual timeline effect. Okay. More quality ingredients, wayfinders and navigation. What are wayfinders even?

So, there’s a lot going on in this slide. We need to do a lot of promoting and demoting and redundancy and all sorts of issues. But for this example, let’s just concentrate on that portion on the left side there, in the manila area … hang on, circle it with my cursor and then I’ll get my cursor right off the screen right here. So what the client was trying to do is create an orientation kind of agenda on each slide, and as he went through, he would highlight the next slide. It’s taking up a huge amount of real estate when it comes to your slide design because you’re limited and we need to have white space so that our eyes don’t feel completely overwhelmed, which makes our brains feel completely overwhelmed.

So, this isn’t a very good use of his space. So instead, what we did was we introduced all of the icons for his sections. There’s more sections at the end of the project in the beginning of the presentation. And then we move them over to the side of the slide. So they’re all here. And as we move through the presentation, the little blue highlight moves through the sections so that people can easily see where they are in orient within the presentation, we call that a wayfinder. As far as navigation, you can use the exact same setup on your slide. So this was not only a way finding mechanism, but also a hyperlinked navigation.

So that if somebody said, “I don’t necessarily care about the calendar one here, but I do care about this guy.” You can just jump right to the next section and jump all around in this slide, just with a set of hyperlinks. I don’t know whether you guys have used hyperlinks, they can seem a little daunting but they’re actually very easy. The challenge is that, as you move slides around, you do have to check to make sure they’re updating correctly. But that is a great trick and very easy to apply, to create a little bit more functionality within your presentations. I’m sure you learners use them a lot.

Okay, cool. So that was quality ingredients, talking about what we can add to the slides to make them communicate more clearly and be a little bit more functional for our audiences. Any questions on anything in quality ingredients?

Where Do You Get Icons?

Sharyn: Yes. We have a couple of questions. One of which is, where do you get the icons? I love the icons and I can see you using new zoom feature in PowerPoint to also make that really useful. Where do you get the icons?

Bethany:              So if you are a designer and have access to like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and all that stuff, you can convert icons that you buy on stock image sites from like vector art onto native PowerPoint shapes, which is really what you want to end up with. So for instance, our little palette here, this is native PowerPoint shape, meaning that if I click on it and click on my palette, I can change its color, I can add a line or a shadow very easily. If you’re not a designer and you’re looking for icons, you can get them off the stock image sites, but functionally, they’re going to be images for you, which can be a pain as far as just using them wherever and however you want to in your presentations.

I would definitely maybe look to a presentation shop. There’s a ton of presentation design shops out there, we’re one, where you can get either custom icons or just a set of generic icons made, and that way, when you plug them into your PowerPoint, you’ll be able to treat them like any other shape in PowerPoint. So, looking for icons and having a set at your fingertips is worth the time, and they’re not very expensive because shops like ours we use huge sets all the time and we have them around.

Sharyn: Terrific. People have asked if they could get more information. So I just put your email in the chat and I’m going to go back to you and say, continue.

Display Tips & Tricks

Bethany:              Great. Okay, perfect. Onto display tricks. So these are the tricks that we’re using to trick the eye and the brain into feeling less overwhelmed when we have a lot of information going on a screen. The first is move to wide screens. So, a lot of people have recognized there’s now two main slide dimensions. There’s this traditional four by three, which is this slide, and then there’s the wide screen set, which is 16 by 9, which is what I’m using on my main slides. I recommend that people move to wide screen generally, but there are some caveats.

You want to use four by three if you think that you’re clients or you are going to print these on like an office printer. So that regular letter size, that 8.5 by 11 letter, that works best with four by three. They’re just closest in dimensions. The other time is, if you’re presenting at a conference or a summit and they’re using those old school screens, there are more square. Those are more four by three. Some screens, now I know we use larger screens at the presentation summit, ours are wide screens. So you just have to know your venue and then design for your venue. That’s always really important to just think about how your slides are most likely to be used and then design for that usage.

Smaller text bites. So we talked about reducing text earlier. So this is a little different. This slide was actually already text reduced. It was originally three slides each with about twice the amount of text on it. We got it down to here by reducing text and promoting and demoting things right off the slide. But it’s still overwhelming to read. It’s actually exhausting for our brains to read all the way across the slide. It’s just tiring. Plus, when you have this much text on a slide and all the way across, it feels like this wall of text is kind of hitting you and it makes it feel like there’s more there to read than there is.

So instead, just make smaller bites, meaning, take the width down. So now we have little bite size text blurbs paired with icons. This was for a printed slide. So the text is a little smaller than you might want to do in a presentation room or something, but they’re a lot more bite size and a lot less overwhelming for our audience to decide that they want to really take the time to read and understand. Okay, animations and transitions. This is what I mentioned earlier for the eLearning people. This is all about when you have so much content, how do we display it in a way that’s going to make it a little easier for the audience to digest.

Here’s an original client slide. They were all about showing all of the ways that the concepts within Hinduism interact with each other, relate to each other, but they also wanted all of the detail. This was a tough one because we did want them to love their end product. So what we ended up creating was an animated flow chart that slowly walks through all the same concepts showing the detail. So that the person queuing the presentation can stop where they need to. All of the detail is still there. They’re creating the relational underlying diagram yet we’re still getting to that super granular level.

So for eLearners and people who are doing self guided learning, that sort of thing, animation using, animation for good is a great way to get there. I think a lot of people use animation and even transitions for evil. We’ve all been to those presentations where everything’s just flying all around the screen and it’s just not fun. It’s like each slide like vortex is out and the new one vortex is in. It’s just insane. I don’t necessarily encourage those kind of decorations on your slide decks. If you’re using animation and transition, it should really be purposeful. So, do it so that people have a second to read something before they need to learn something else, or use it in an instructional way to show the flow of information, that sort of thing, because animations and transitions can be super valuable teaching tools as well, rather than just jazz.

Okay. This is from the same client, and I’ll show you another trick that we use a lot. This is also a lot of information for one slide, and they wanted to keep everything. The detail was important here. So we just needed to figure out a way so that when this slide was used for their teaching courses, it was projected, but it was a live teaching course. It would work as one graphic, but not be so overwhelming for the audience.

So what we used is actually a push transition, and this is real simple. Essentially what you want to do is just take half or even a third, or you can stretch this content all the way across many, many slides, put some on the first slide, talk to it so that the other stuff is not there yet for people, and you’re still getting your font big enough so people in the back of the classroom can see and then just use the push transition. We’ve created one diagram that uses the space of two slides. And again, real estate is so important.

Push transition works side to side, it works top to bottom. So there’s all sorts of things that you can do to break up a diagram or a set of content across slides and still keep it related. So I’ll just do that one more time because it’s kind of fun, and the diagram just slides right across. Okay. So now we’re through our display trick for better plating. Any questions about any of the tactics we used in there? I know they’re a little technical.

Sharyn: I think we’re going to keep the questions to the end because we have so many and I think that’s probably the best thing to do. So, let’s keep going.

Bethany:              Okay. Okay, great. Well, this is actually an audience participation part next. So Sharyn, you might have to do some work on that chat, but we’ve gone through a bunch of techniques now. So we’ve learned to know how to reduce text, what to put on the slides to make them communicate more clearly and ways to split up text using some software skills. So I’m going to show you just two before slides and see if we can spot some opportunities to improve the design and make them communicate more clearly. This is a slide from that cybersecurity session earlier, and it’s very text heavy as you can see and pretty plain to look at. Does anyone have some ideas for improving this slide?

Sharyn: We have people coming in already, so thank you. We had possible answers, reduced text, use icons and wayfinders.

Bethany:              Okay, great.

Sharyn: Do interesting stuff with data display like graph the stats and make use of title space. They’re the ones that we’ve had so far.

Bethany:              All right. That’s awesome. That’s fantastic. We basically got everything there. Again, we’re using our title for the most important information. We’ve got some icons for each of the target here, which makes them immediately recognizable. We’ve got our wayfinder in the corner, so people who tune out can tune right back in, and then we have created instead of just flat stats, we’ve used some pie charts down below to really bring that information to life. And now we’ve got something that’s much more exciting background for our speaker so that our audience can feel more engaged and excited about learning about this, the fishing material. Okay. Next one. Again, very text heavy. What would you do if this was your slide to improve this slide?

Sharyn: You can put the answer in chat. We’re getting some good information. People are suggesting things like reduced text, chunk the text so you get it in smaller bites. Use icons, transitions, again, making use of the title and create an information hierarchy, which would be a great tactic to use. Back to you.

Bethany:              Okay. Whoever said that gets 10 extra points. That’s awesome. Yes. These are the things that are important in this slide, really creating some smaller bites. We have our smaller widths, our core business principles, very boring title, we’ve popped up into the top as almost a little subtitle and our singular goal, the most important information has been promoted to a title space. We’ve also, again used … This is really even considered a diagram. We’ve connected the two slides with that same push transition and a small diagram here. So it’s clear to the audience that we’ve got a continuation of information.

And hierarchy, making sure that those first couple of words of each bullet point really read as the most important information for … This is again a self-guided deck, and they can see that the information below is the supporting detail. So great job on there you try it. Very nice one. There are questions and takeaways. I know there maybe some questions throughout, so this is a great time to send those in. I’m happy to answer them. And then if there’s anything that you’re excited to use that you learned from this webinar that you’re excited to put to use in your next slide deck, I’d love to hear that too.

Using Photos

Sharyn: Bethany, we’ve got a ton of questions coming in, so I’m going to just try and get right to them. “Why are you not using photos to help communicate the message?”

Bethany:              Yes. We definitely do. It just didn’t make it into this webinar, but we absolutely do. Using photos is great. And depending on your photo, you can even use it as negative space to create one very important message in one portion by a text or a graphic, and then the photos. I think the issue with photos is that you really do need to be careful where you’re sourcing them from if you’re using your slides publicly, if not, you’re probably okay.

And look for photos that feel very real, look for photos that go for the emotional feel of your presentation. So if you’re using that kind of cheesy, funny, whatever, that’s great, if you’re okay with the audience feeling buoyant and laughing. If you’re presenting serious material, look for photos that communicate those emotions directly. It’s a great point because your audience, you definitely want them to connect emotionally with your material and stay interested.

Sharyn: We had several people ask about a tactic of using only pictures or graphics and no word content where you would actually use the words and the content too as you present. What do you think of that?

Bethany:              Yes. I love that. It’s very hard to get people to do it. So I don’t often push it until people are comfortable with it. And that’s because, if you’re a professional speaker and trainer, having absolutely no words on your slide may not feel scary to you, but if you’re someone who’s presenting or you are using those slides as a send ahead or a leave behind, it’s not really an option, but I absolutely love it. If you can put just a graph up there, and then explain it, just a diagram and then explain it, more power to you. I absolutely love it.

Sharyn: So here’s a fun question. “What’s the origin of the name SlideRabbit.”

Bethany:              Oh my gosh. It’s such a dumb story. Every time someone asks me this, I kick myself for not having made up a better story yet, but when I was leaving my old job, I actually used to be a litigation consultant and I used to help, I know we had another consultant on the line, I used to help lawyers tell their story to juries. I was just so sick of all the serious material and I just wanted something that was going to feel fun and energetic, and I wanted to work with just all sorts of different content, and my husband used to say this expression, “Holy rabbit.” When he was upset, like as an … I don’t know. It’s so ridiculous. And so I was like, “Well, I’ll just call it SlideRabbit.” It’s a great topic, and here we are.

Sharyn: It’s a great thing. I would’ve thought SlideRabbit because we’re always hopping up and down for our clients and always wanting things really fast.

Bethany:              I’m going to use that next time.

Zooming and Chunking

Sharyn: Okay. So, one of the questions, I think this is interesting from Brian is, “What do you recommend zooming in and breaking into chunks for an audience that is used to seeing detailed spreadsheets on screen in order to view trends, but need to see all of the information as a whole in order for it to make sense?”

Bethany:              Yeah. I remember during introductions we had, it sounded like one or two people who were dealing with highly technical audiences, and that’s a situation where it’s outside the realm of probably the typical presentation, but it’s all about knowing your audience. So if you have an audience who’s literally going to look at a graph and be like, “Okay, fine, whatever, but show me the data.” Then you are maybe going to have to show them the data as long as you know that it’s not going to put them to sleep and that they’re going to understand it. That’s the most important part.

And if you can simplify that data to just what they really need to know, maybe get out any of those rows or columns that are extraneous for that particular concept or slide, that’s the way to go. But I’m sure that there’s audience who are outliers as far as when it comes to being able to quickly digest a large amount of data.

Sharyn: I mean, another thing to do too is, maybe have a handout with more detailed on the spreadsheet and you could zoom in and out to that. I mean, there’s lots of ways to do this, especially with the new zoom feature on PowerPoint, you have a lot more reasons and opportunities to use it. So, something to think about.

Bethany:              Yeah. Zoom will help and like also that hyperlink back pocket trick will help, unless you know that they’re for sure going to ask to see it every single time, I would probably keep it in a back pocket rather than keeping it in the linear slide line up. But again, I don’t know that audience and it sounds like they might be technical. So, you got to give them what they want.

Sharyn: And picky about getting all the information.

Bethany:              Yeah, for sure.

Reducing Slide Content

Sharyn: Krista has a good question. “Do you have a lot of walls come up when asking a client to reduce the slide content?”

Bethany:              Yes. It really depends heavily on the client. I had a client who … this was just a few weeks ago called and said, “Listen, our slides are terrible and like the content’s right but there’s just so much of it. We really need your help.” And I said, “Great.” And I took it, and I said, “Here’s what we should take off, here’s some tricks, the back pocket tricks and all this stuff.” They looked at it and said, “No, just put it all back on and design it.” Some people-

Sharyn: That’s typify and I’ve been there.

Bethany:              Yeah. It happens, for sure. I think it’s hardest to fight that within your own company, because for me, it’s my client, and I say, “Well, I really heavily recommend it.” And they’re like, “Well, it doesn’t matter.” And I’m like, “Okay, well, it’s your funeral.” But if it’s in your own organization, that can be a challenge to fight, and very frustrating. But we do see walls come up. I would say, show them. There is just so many great resources on the internet about why words need to come off slides and how to simplify and why visual communication is better. And if you can just give them a few of those, you might start to chip away at some walls.

Sharyn: I think that’s a great idea. You’re right, we do have a lot of people on who are doing medical, financial, highly technical slide development. Here’s a question from Lindsay, “Any suggestions for when we are developing slides that need to have screenshots? An example would be, as we teach a new software program for clinical documentation, and as an add-on to that, a challenge for me, a lot of times the quality of the screenshots often makes it really hard if you need to enlarge it or do anything along that, how would you handle those?”

Bethany:              We did find a great tool for screenshot, and I know I still have it. So if you send me an email, I will send you the link. It was called like paparazzi, I think.

Sharyn: Okay.

Bethany:              And if anyone’s ever used that, it’s great. You just give it the URL and it scans the whole thing and it generates a vector art file, which means when you blow it up and take it down and takes little snapshots, a little pieces of it, it keeps that high crisp resolution. That’s a really good way to get around those rezzie screenshot.

Sharyn: Put that one number one on my list, I’m going to download, we’ll follow up everyone giving you information about that. So looking forward to looking at it myself.

Bethany:              Good.

Sharing Technical Information in Slides

Sharyn: The next one is, “Do you have any slides that show a good method of sharing technical information?” And if we don’t, maybe we can take this offline Suzanne, and we’ll send that information to you, because we’re going to take any of the questions we can’t handle and we’ll post a blog on PresentationXpert and send you the link in the follow up email.

Bethany:              Okay, yeah. I think we probably do. I just would want to know more about what kind of technical information and how she’s currently explaining it so that I could get her something that really applies.

Creating a Transition Push Slide

Sharyn: And we have someone here who wants to know how to create a transition push slide.

Bethany:              Sure. Okay. So I will live demo how very exciting that is and right here I’m just in my slide editing mode and I have got my first slide in my transition here, and then to add the transition, I’ll just go to the transitions, push is right here next to fade, and then I can switch my effect options to go from left to right or right to left or from top to bottom. That’s how we created this one. These guys are using a push transition. I’m sorry, you want to put that on your second slide not your first slide. So that’s the way to use push, and there’s a couple other useful ones. That’s the one we use probably the most often because it very nicely connects top and bottom one slide to the next.

Advice for Using a Mandatory Template Background

Sharyn: That’s great. We have another question that says, “Any recommendations for using a mandatory template background, like a dark blue? And advice for keeping it still clean and clutter free?”

Bethany:              Yes. If you have a dark blue template, I’m hoping that it’s already at least a little bit clutter free. A lot of those older style PowerPoints had a lot of unnecessary decoration at the bottoms and the tops with just kind of swirly stuff and just gradients everywhere. If you can convince them to redesign, that might help, but I would then … you do have to keep everything on the slide very simple. So, if you’re using something that has … Let’s see, none of my slides really have one, but if this bottom bar and maybe a big chunky title bar, we see that a lot.

You do want to then create your white space within the open space here. And when I say white space, it can be dark blue space. It just needs to be negative space. So if you have a fully dark blue slide and the text on it is white or yellow, as we see so often in the litigation field, staying to just those monochrome colors will probably behoove you. So, stick with just your whites and your blues or just your yellows and your blues so that you’re not having those other colors sing on top. And by sing, I mean that visual reverberation you get when the colors don’t mesh very well and they vibrate off of each other. You do want to stick to some pretty basic colors at that point, unfortunately.

Using All Caps vs Upper and Lower Case

Sharyn: Some of the slide sections have all caps versus proper case or lower case. When do you suggest to use all caps?

Bethany:              So, you can do whatever you want as far as text as long as you’re consistent. So one of the first things that we do when we’re designing a deck is we set out a text hierarchy. So our most important slide in the tech slide, sorry, text on a given slide or throughout the deck will always be this kind of bold railway, all caps, small caps, whatever it is. And then the next set of texts will be maybe it’s like a light all caps or something. And then our body text will be this style.

And then if you apply that no matter where they are appearing on the slide, you’re giving a very cohesive feel and your audience is knowing, “Oh, that’s my main point. There is my title. There’s the body text that I don’t necessarily mean to digest right at this minute.” And that’s how you create a text hierarchy that’s going to make sense throughout the whole deck is just to be really consistent with it once you set it out.

Text Colors

Sharyn: Perfect. Do you find that white and yellow letters are harder to read?

Bethany:              It depends on the background, of course. I think you might still be talking about that dark blue background. When I worked in litigation, I had a client who was 100%, he’s like my company did a study. Every thing needs to be on a blue background with yellow text. It’s the easiest to remember, it causes memory. I have never been able to find that study. It may exist, I don’t know, but that was a long time ago. It’s also very painful to look at, I think, personally. There’s combinations of blue and yellow that are very pleasing, but typically that dark blue with yellow text can start to do that reverberation. I don’t mind dark blue with white, but it does cause some …

PowerPoint Plugins

Sharyn: I think that’s important to know, it does cause some … I definitely struggle with yellow and having the right amount of red in it or whatever to make it stand out. So any suggestions on PowerPoint plugins that do dynamic updates from like Excel, such as rows and columns, which change every month? So I’m betting the Excel file isn’t too practical.

Bethany:              Right. I think one of the challenges with plugins, we don’t use them very often to be quite honest because updating them, they slow down our PowerPoint, like you wouldn’t believe. And we have so many clients using so many different things that it just becomes impractical. So we don’t use them very much. I might not be the best resource on plugins especially from Excel. I know there are some great ones out there. In fact, when my clients is just showing me one that makes very, very detailed Gantt charts and I was trying to convince somebody didn’t need it, but we’ll see. So yeah, so I might not be the best resource on Excel plugins.

Sharyn: We’ll see if anybody else’s online. Usually we have a few regulars who want to give a suggestion, let us know. And then we have another question which I think will be the last one we’ll be able to do, which is, “As designers, we sometimes have our own language. How do you explain decisions to your clients without making them feel stupid for not knowing?”

Bethany:              Oh, the tight rope. Yeah. I try to do a lot of soft pedaling when it comes to that. I mean, I always just say, “This is my recommendation and here’s why.” And I leave it at that, two sentences max. Typically, it tends to go over fine. I mean, I think designers definitely have their own language. Probably the most pushback comes on what content can and can’t go on the slide, but for design decisions, I just like to speak with authority. And if I get a ton of feedback, once again like [inaudible] client at some point, it is their slide. So, there’s always a little give and take there.

Sharyn: So, we have a lot of people asking about the screenshot and I think you said paparazzi, we will figure it out and let everybody know when we send out the information, and we have a lot of questions asking what version of PowerPoint are you using?

Bethany:              We use both 2011 and … Well, there’s so many actually. We use 2011, 2016 and then both on Mac and PC in our shop, just so that we can check and make sure everything’s up to date. We do still have clients, believe it or not, who send us stuff from 2007, but they get lesser and lesser every year. So every month really. And we’re excited actually, we’re going to be switching, I think, to 360 soon so that we can be using the rolling updates, but we will still always keep one or two older versions on our computers just to be able to see things how clients are seeing them.

Sharyn: Echo and Julie convinced me to go to Office 365 and I’m so glad I did because it really has been great, and I love some of the new features. So, I want to thank our audience because they’re a wealth of knowledge, and Sam Auck is saying there is an outstanding tool for bridging data in Excel and PowerPoint called think-cell. It is used quickly in financial planning and analysis for waterfall charts and has been instrumental in presenting complicated financial data at his company.

Bethany:              Well, that is my husband. So you can trust him.

Sharyn: Oh, I didn’t even put two of you together. Yes, you’re right, Sam. Belinda’s saying, “Nope, that hasn’t worked for her.” So we’ll have to keep looking.

Bethany:              Fight it out. Death match. Okay.

Sharyn: Well, that’s all the questions we have for today. I want to thank everybody for coming. It is being recorded, and so one of the nice things about recording it is that we will be able to send you a link to the recording. This has been really great today. Everyone has been just so amazing as far as answering all the questions and coming up with ideas and everything else. So I want to thank you all for that.

Again, we want to remind you that today’s webinar was brought to you by Citrix GoToWebinar, and you have an offer of a free 30 day trial for participating in today’s webinar, and we want to tell you to please stay connected with us. I love all the questions, I’ve been taking furious notes, and I think one of the things Bethany and I talked about was if there was a lot of questions, we’ll have her do a blog post on the questions with some answers and some links and everything else. But want to thank you again for joining us, and this concludes our presentation for today and have a great rest of your day or an early start to your day wherever you are. So, thanks for joining in from all over the world. Have a great day.

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