7 Deadly Sins of Visual Design: Lust

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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?

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