How To Create An Effective Slide: An Introduction

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When you make the decision to stop thinking of slides as documents and to start thinking of them as truly visual, as “digital scenery,” you will be able to create effective slides.  You already know the ingredients of a slide.  Next, it’s important to understand how to use, arrange, and apply those ingredients in a meaningful way on a slide.

Sometimes, students ask me how learning these design concepts can help them outside of the presentation world.  Since I teach Entertainment Business and Music Business students, it’s important for them to know that these principles are universal.  Knowing universal principles of design does help create strong slides, but it will also help them with branding and marketing.  It helps them with communication materials they develop: flyers, websites, ads, billboards.  Once my students understand these concepts, they realize just how important design is to our everyday lives.

For slide design beginners, Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology is a must-read along with Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen and Presentation Zen Design.  Reynolds even has a DVD called Presentation Zen for my non-readers.  If you’re already a step up, check out Universal Principles of Design by William Lidwell.  It’s a fascinating read and serves as more of a design encyclopedia.

Before we can dive into using, arranging, and applying ingredients in a meaningful way on a slide, we must first learn more about arrangement.  Those elements include contrast, repetition, alignment, proximity as well as hierarchy, flow, unity, and whitespace.

First, remember C.R.A.P.: contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity.  Garr Reynolds calls these the “Big Four” in his book and DVD, Presentation Zen.  The other four Duarte refers to as “elements of arrangement” in Slide:ology.  Those elements are hierarchy, flow, unity, and whitespace.

In this series, we will learn how to create an effective slide using these elements.  Next time, we’ll focus on contrast and its importance on a strong slide.

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