Design Tip of the Day

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Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen first introduced me to the signal to noise ratio.  Reynolds actually learned about this principle from Universal Principles of Design.  No matter where we hear this for the first time, the lesson is simple and applies to design everywhere: clean is better than clutter.

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A clean slide is one that has high signal that clearly comes across to the audience without noise.  A cluttered slide is one that has an unclear or low signal due to high noise and too much clutter.  Reynolds explains, “Ensuring the highest possible signal-to-noise ratio means communicating (designing) clearly with as little degradation to the message as possible” (Source).  Clutter will always degrade the message.

How can you work to unclutter your slides?  You can start with these five easy tips:

1.  Do not use templates.

2.  Do not use bullets.  Bullets kill.

3.  Do not use clip art.

4.  Do not use unnecessary, corny transitions or animations such as flames or comet.

5.  Do not use your slides as a document or teleprompter.

What other tips do you have for those of us who work hard to declutter our slides?

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2 thoughts on “Design Tip of the Day

  1. Great tips! I would add to that that when doing virtual presentations, the slide rules may be slightly different especially since participants may be distracted while participating.

    So a clean slide with a quick and clean descriptive sentence may be helpful in virtual trainings.

    • Hey there J Kenn! Thanks for your comment. I’ve seen the best virtual presentations from Slideshare. Have you visited the website lately? My favorite slideshow designers are David Crandall and @jessedee. I think they really depict what a virtual presentation should look like. What are your thoughts? Thanks! Alex

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