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

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

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

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:

CDbyPPT-From Awful to Awesome

Do you have font recommendations? Including size

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.

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

It’s one of my corporate colors.

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

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.

Are gradients opportunity or threat?

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.

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

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.

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?

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.

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

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

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

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.

Preparing for Your Presentation: A Step by Step Calendar Guide

Presentations are still the last place winners when it comes to allowing the right amount of time to prepare and develop for an important meeting or pitch. They are the first place champions when it comes to the level of impact they are expected to produce. This dichotomy is a never ending battle, and one that makes our pulses race (no pun intended!) here in our agency, and within the greater presentation landscape. However, from the hundreds of presentation requests and solutions created, we’ve benchmarked the following calendar guide with tips that will better prepare you on the time to allow for developing your next, winning presentation.

The big Due Date day, the 15th, circled on a white calendar with a red marker, as a reminder of the date your project must be completed and submitted or the date you expect to deliver your baby

1. Always start with your due date and work backward!

When I say the due date, I mean the date you’re going to be giving the presentation- in the room, on a webinar, etc. This day should never be used for anything else, other than making sure you’re wearing the right attire, and having eaten a proper breakfast. My due date for this example is going to be: April 1st.

2. Next, start with what day it is currently.

So, this is where it gets exciting. If you say your current date is March 30th, then your procrastination skills need an alignment job. The start of any presentation should never be this hairline close to your due date. Anything starting and ending within the same week is even dangerous. In our case, the real current date is Feb 24th.

3. Calculate the total dates available.

tany calendarBreak out the calendar and do this manually, or a better way is to go to: Time and Date Website to get this answer. In our case, the total is 37 days. From these 37 days, exclude weekends and holidays, and the real answer is 27 days.

Now that we have the total days in mind, we can take a look at estimating how long it’s going to take to build out the elements that go into making a presentation:

Element 1: Template
Every presentation needs a solid backbone, which is the template. If you’ve been using a template that offers little structure or brand infusion, then it this would be a good time to consider developing a new one. A good template range typically falls between 12-15 slide types. Elements should include company branding (logos, colors), a selection of visual elements (icons, photography), and proper slide programming for slide numbers, footnotes, etc.
Days to allow: 3

Element 2: Total Presentation Time
The length of time you’re allowed for your presentation is going to navigate your storyline and how many slides you’re going to develop. For our example, it’s an hour long presentation, and we’ll allow an average of 2 minutes per slide, for a total of 30 slides.
Days to allow: (n/a)

Element 3: Storyline
Scripting the content for your presentation is going to take up the largest part of your total time. It’s the most important piece because it’s the heart of it all. A great way to start is by using a Word Document and then narrowing and filtering your story down to its core messages. Remember, researching and sourcing your content properly will take up time as well.
Days to allow: 8                                                                                                                                                                                        
Element 4: Drafting a Visual Outline
Using your finalized storyline, copy and paste your content into your template, as well as any visual elements that help inspire your messages. Don’t over analyze this step from a creative point of view. Allow this time to for your visual freedom and storytelling to guide the bones of these slides.
Days to allow: 2

Element 5: Designing Your Slides
Once you feel comfortable with your visual outline, this next step can be daunting if you’re not a pro. However, it’s best to keep in mind a few tips:

  • Keep your on-screen text limited
  • Use enough visuals to fill up your canvas
  • Don’t be cliché, choose font sizes large enough for all viewing types, combine key stats and images
  • And most importantly- create as much consistency with the style of your design across all slides.

Days to allow: 5  

Element 6: Edits and Revisions
A good rule of thumb we’ve found is allowing for 3 rounds of edits and revisions. Round 1 allows for first impressions, round 2 allows for updates and changes, and round 3 for finishing touches. A good suggestion for this time is to review and collect feedback with someone who’s unfamiliar with your presentation- these fresh eyes are invaluable for perfecting the final touches that are needed before you face your real audience.Presentation graphic
Days to allow: 3

Element 7: Rehearsal
Once the final presentation is locked and finalized, it’s time to rehearse and become familiar with navigating the slides along with your speech. Like designing your slides, this step can also be daunting if you’re not a pro. But keep in mind these few tips: rehearse silently and pace yourself through each slide, remember to articulate and reinforce your main key points, and time yourself and keep under the time limit- which is always a safer place to be than running over.
Days to allow: 4

Time Check-in
With taking into account all these elements, we landed at 25 days, out of our 27 total. We were able to meet our presentation deadline and feel well prepared for it too! It is amazing how much time can go into creating a presentation when you really break it down, and our example is just one that mimics the vast amount of circumstances and situations affecting presentations out there. But our key takeaway is that more time should be allowed and considered when developing a presentation- because it’s a well-developed one that always wins the race.

TanyWith over 18 years of design experience and a Masters in Architecture, Tany Nagy transformed using her design skills from blueprints to presentations when she founded Pulse Design Studio in 2008. Her love for presenting stories as state-of-the-art communication materials launched Pulse into becoming a quickly recognized and sought after presentation design agency on a national and global scale. As creative director at Pulse, she has created hundreds of award-winning and dynamic presentations, from keynotes to pitches for Fortune 500 CEOs, leading healthcare organizations and funded start-ups. Her passion to push the boundaries on developing latest techniques and solutions drive her creativity to bring the very best in the industry to her clients. As an educator, she has been a featured speaker at several events in the Detroit area focusing on the evolution of presentations in today’s marketplace and digital landscape. You can reach her directly at her email: tany@pulsedesignstudio.com or by visiting her website at: http://www.pulsedesignstudio.com

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