Six Ways To Ignite Your Ideas


This amazing Slideshare presentation was “Top Presentation of the Day” today, and I loved the powerful content and beautiful slides.  Check it out:


My favorite slide is #10: “Few things kill a good idea faster than 1) boring presenters, 2) data dumps, 3) confusing information, and 4) poor visuals” (Source).  Well said!

Check out We Are Visual here.

Presentation Design Techniques From The Masters


On Tuesday and Thursday of this week, my students are learning how to design more effective slideshows.  I love this brand new deck by Slide Comet, and many of these lessons are essential for my students:


What I liked most about the deck was the clear, thorough explanation of the five different approaches: the Takahashi method; the Kawasaki method; the Lessig method; the Godin method; and the Jobs method.  I am dying to redesign my “visual design” lessons to include more types of visual design with my students so that they can select the slideshow they need to create based upon their audience; their purpose; and their content.  In August when Fall classes begin, I plan to incorporate the Slide Comet deck into my lectures so that students have a more clear sense of their options.

Which slide design method do you use most often?  Do you change your approach depending upon your audience, or do you stick to one method no matter what type of speech you are delivering?

Protesting Presentation Design: “I’m A Visual Learner! I Need Bullets”


During an English Department meeting earlier this week, I overheard a colleague say, “I’m a visual learner.  That’s why I need to use bullets in my slides.”

Rather than halt the meeting, I decided it was time for yet another “Protesting Presentation Design” post.  Back in November of 2012, I wrote a post on the 5 most common arguments that I hear protesting presentation design, but I completely forgot about this argument:


To be honest, I think I actually try to push this argument from my mind because it makes the least amount of sense.  Also, the people who say this to me often think I have no idea what I’m talking about… For that reason, we’ll defer to the experts.

“7 Lessons from the World’s Most Captivating Presenters” is a Slideshare presentation and also a really great article.  The third lesson we must learn is that a picture is worth a thousand words.  The article reads:

“There’s a reason why expressions like, ‘Seeing is believing’ and, ‘A picture is worth 1000 words’ are so universally recognized — and that reason is based in science.

It’s called the Picture Superiority Effect, and it refers to a large body of research, which shows that humans more easily learn and recall information that is presented as pictures than when the same information is presented in words” (Source).  If you’ve never heard of the picture superiority effect, please check out the 30 second explanation video below:


The article goes on to explain how the picture superiority works in an additional test: “In one experiment, for instance, subjects who were presented with information orally could remember about 10% of the content 72 hours later. Those who were presented with information in picture format were able to recall 65% of the content” (Source).

So consider this:


Visual people do remember words, yes, but they remember pictures much more vividly and for a longer period of time.  “Not only do we remember visual input better, but we also process visual information 60,000x faster in the brain than we do text” (Source).  So if you are, in fact, a visual learner, your slides should include images to simplify your message and to increase retention.

How many times have you seen that standard death-by-PowerPoint slideshow filled with bullets and text?  What did you actually remember?  Chances are, you can’t recall that information today, and if you do, I can guarantee you that the presentation was boring. No one waits to speak to a death-by-PowerPoint presenter after the speech to rave about the bullet points.  People remember an impacting image, a high-quality chart or graph, or a powerful video.  “Sure, it takes more time to find and select awesome images to replace text, but master communicators know that it’s worth the extra effort to achieve maximum impact and maximum audience retention” (Source).

Consider pairing image and text in your next PowerPoint presentation to ensure you are actually developing a visual presentation that meets the needs of your visual learners.  Be sure to check out “7 Lessons From the World’s Most Captivating Presenters” here.

What other arguments do you hear protesting effective presentation design?  How can we work to get through to these people?

You Don’t HAVE To Use PowerPoint…


For my Legal and Ethical Issues in Communication graduate course, we wrote our final papers and are having “poster sessions” tonight to explain our research and our findings…

I love the idea of a visual presentation that is tangible.  Simplicity, unity through color and typeface, and an application of the rule of thirds are key to a successful posterboard.  Remember making these for the science fair back when you were younger?  I wish we could go back to these days!

When is the last time you created a visual OTHER than PowerPoint or Keynote to support your presentation?

Design Tip of the Day: 7 Deadly Sins of Visual Design


Last month, I developed the 7 Deadly Sins of Visual Design for our visual design lecture. Here they are in one succinct place for our Design Tip of the Day.

The first deadly sin is envy.  Design envy occurs when you covet the slides of others.  Slide envy can easily be treated.  How?  Click here to learn three primary principles to treat your slide envy.

The second deadly sin is pride.  Many people feel their slides are amazing and refuse to see the light from Garr Reynolds and Nancy Duarte.  Their pride stands in the way of creating truly effective slides.  So how can someone correct this deadly sin?  Click here to find out how to overcome slide pride and how to create meaningful visual design.

The third deadly sin is wrath.  Please stop killing your audiences with slides filled with bullet points.  Bullets kill.  Learn how to correct your deadly obsession with bullets here.

The fourth deadly sin is sloth.  Slide sloth is the sin my students most frequently suffer from.  A slide sloth’s visual presentation took 5 minutes because a slide sloth doesn’t care about an audience’s needs; the sloth would rather eat Cheetos and watch The Jersey Shore.  To avoid slide sloth, click here.

The fifth deadly sin is lust.  Sometimes, to grab the audience’s attention, presenters rely on racy images or multimedia that have little or nothing to do with their topic.  Scantily clad bodies are never a good idea as an attention-getter if those scantily clad bodies have nothing to do with your thesis.  Instead, develop strong content and avoid lusty slides.  Learn more about lust here.

The sixth deadly sin is gluttony.  More is never better when it comes to slides.  Garr Reynolds teaches us with his Presentation Zen philosophy that simplicity in design is essential.  Avoiding slide gluttony is important, so click here to learn more.

The seventh deadly sin is greed.  If you use images without properly citing the image’s owner, you are being a greedy thief because you are stealing those images.  Click here to learn how to properly show attribution.

7 Deadly Sins of Visual Design: Greed


To help my students learn important visual design concepts, they were assigned to read slide:ology.  To accompany the text, we spent time studying the 7 Deadly Sins of Visual Design.  The first six deadly sins are envy, pride, wrathslothlust, and gluttony.  Today, we will examine the final deadly sin: greed.

Greed occurs when you steal images from others without giving the image’s owner proper credit.  For example, all of my photos come from Compfight, a search engine that combs through Flickr photography.  Somewhere on my slides, I put the URL for the image directly on the slide itself.  This approach works well if you are presenting in the live environment and if you have images from varying locations.

If all of your images are from one website – such as Flickr – you can put the Flickr user’s name on your slide and forgo the bulky URL.

Sometimes, my students will turn in an assignment or present a speech and tell me, “All images courtesy of Google Images.”  This is an example of plagiarism because “Google Images” is a search engine, not an owner of an image.

Please consider using Flickr versus Google Images.  You know for each photo on Flickr the precise user preference for his or her photo.  Google Image searches often provide unclear results on who the image actually belongs to, so you could be plagiarizing photos without even knowing it.

There are many ways to properly cite images and avoid Slide Greed or plagiarism.  The first image with the fist of money shows my preferred method (the URL itself), but the flower slide shows you a clear example of how to cite an image if all of your slides come from one place (in this case, Flickr).  Of course, you’d want to make that “Image Credit: nosha” much smaller… I always use 9 point font for my references to ensure the focus is on the important text on the slide and not on the citations.

Do you cite your images, or do you practice slide greed?

7 Deadly Sins of Visual Design: Gluttony


To help my students learn important visual design concepts, they were assigned to read slide:ology.  To accompany the text, we spent time studying the 7 Deadly Sins of Visual Design.  The first five deadly sins are envy, pride, wrathsloth, and lust.  Today, we will examine gluttony.

“Slide junk” was a term I first heard used by Garr Reynolds.  “Slide junk” is the same thing as noise on a slide, and examples of noise on a slide include too many words, bullets containing complete sentences, too many images, purposeless animations, busy data, etc.  When my students are being slide gluttons, their slides bombard audiences with 10 fonts, dizzying animations, too many crazy colors, and cluttered images.  I once had a student put 17 pictures of Clint Eastwood on one slide.  Each was animated to fly in, and each image was stacked on top of the one before it.  Yikes!

You can avoid slide gluttony using 3 simple principles.  First, of course, ensure your slides have high signal and low noise on the signal to noise ratio.

Second, create unity in your slideshow.

Third, limit yourself and be purposeful, especially when it comes to fonts, colors, and animations/transitions.

Unity is extremely important in a visual presentation so that the audience can follow the story of the slides while listening to the story in your content.  There are many ways to ensure your slides are unified.

Garr Reynolds says, “Unity may be the single most important concept. All elements on a page (or slide, poster, etc.) must look like they belong together — nothing can seem accidental or random. The entire design, then, is more (and more important) than the mere sum of its elements. Unity can be achieved in many ways. For example, using black & white photography throughout the pages rather than, say, mixing cheap clip art with high quality black & white photography and common color stock images, can give the design a sense of unity. Unity can be achieved also by using similar items conceptually such as “things found in Japan.” For a PowerPoint presentation, a high-quality background theme used consistently throughout the entire presentation adds visual unity” (Source).

Please remember that a boring, overused PowerPoint or Keynote template is the perfect way to move into slide sloth territory, so create your own templates!

Consider fonts wisely.  Reynolds says, “Fonts communicate subtle messages in and of themselves, which is why you should choose fonts deliberately. Use the same font set throughout your entire slide presentation, and use no more than two complementary fonts (e.g., Arial and Arial Bold)” (Source).  Similarly, Nancy Duarte believes that each font has a personality and we should use one or, at the most, two fonts in a visual presentation (Source).

I say think about fonts as you do drinks with your boss.  If your boss has a drink, you can have one, too.  But two drinks is definitely pushing it, and you most certainly don’t want to go for a third.

In terms of animation, please avoid it if you’re using it for the attention-getting factor.  Consider Prezi.  I’ve never seen a good Prezi.  Even in this example from TED 2012, I think the animation is too gimmicky.  The only time the animation works, in my opinion, is when the globe gets larger and then larger.

Does the animation have a purpose?  What is that purpose?  If you cannot answer these two questions, don’t use animation between slides or on a slide.  Also, using any of the following animation automatically makes you a slide glutton: anvil, blast, bouncy, comet, flames, orbital, or squish.

What are your tips for avoiding slide gluttony?

7 Deadly Sins of Visual Design: Lust


To help my students learn important visual design concepts, they were assigned to read slide:ology.  To accompany the text, we spent time studying the 7 Deadly Sins of Visual Design.  The first four deadly sins are envy, pride, wrath, and sloth.  Today, we will examine lust.

Students sometimes feel that their slides or their multimedia can be a little inappropriate because the student him or herself isn’t actually discussing anything sinful.  Since my class is all about communicating professionally, we set some ground rules about images.

It’s important that students don’t use visuals that are too sexual.  Visuals are intended to be powerful, so there is a time and a place for a provocative image.  However, creating slides of only half-naked bodies (especially when half-naked bodies have nothing to do with your speech topic) isn’t what visual design is all about.  My students are expected to keep their images classy and to remember not to cross that line into lusty territory.

This is key for your own visual presentations because people in your audience can obviously be offended by graphic, sexual, lustful images.  It’s also important that your visuals support your message and don’t distract your audience.  The visuals should work hand-in-hand with your content to reinforce that content.  Using provocative imagery for the sake of being provocative is a great way for your audience to remember your slides and have no idea what you were talking about.

Your slides should always be digital scenery behind you to reinforce and support your message.  Don’t blur the lines between professional and inappropriate.  Keep it classy!

More than sexy images, students feel that their multimedia (audio and video) can push the boundaries of professionalism.  Multimedia is still a part of your presentation, so make certain that video clips are appropriate for all audiences.  Some college students select a clip based on its ability to make the audience laugh as opposed to choosing something that supports their content, so this is why we cover the “no seedy multimedia” rule so thoroughly in class.

If you’re giving a presentation including multimedia, I would suggest reviewing the Motion Picture Association of America’s film rating system.  If you’re speaking to only children, obviously you’d want to keep your multimedia content at the G level.  If you’re speaking to a mix of children and adults, PG would be appropriate.  If you are presenting in the collegiate environment, as my students are, PG-13 is generally acceptable.  I tell my students to use their best judgment and to always ask me if they’re on the fence.

Do you use multimedia in your presentations?  How do you ensure it is appropriate for your audience?