Effective Visual Communication: Vintage Slides from GE

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Duarte Design posted this amazing presentation on Slideshare earlier this week, and I absolutely love the idea that we USED to know how to design effective slides before Keynote and PowerPoint got in our way!

In her article, “Back to the Future: Slides Before PowerPoint,” Paula Tesch writes: “Here’s what we can learn from our slide-design forefathers:

  1. Slides were treated like they were valuable because they were expensive.
    In the 1950’s each element on the slide was crafted by hand, using an array of papers and tapes and a whole heck of a lot of White Out. If you had to pay money for every word and chart you put on your slide, you’d make some very different choices about what information you’d include. Just because our slides are free, doesn’t mean we should fill ‘em to the brim.
  2. These slides were created by a person whose only job was to create slides.
    Slide creation was once an art, typically practiced by specialized artists. Flash forward to today, you are responsible for three roles in developing a presentation: the content, slides, and delivering the presentation. you’ve got to contend with the content and delivery of the presentation, too. That leaves little time or energy to dedicate to your slides. We know all too well, good design takes time.
  3. Each slide had to be final days before the presentation.
    Frightening, right? Imagine being forced to finish your final deck a week before your presentation. Among other things, like giving you a heart attack, it would allow you time to rehearse. If you had an entire week to think about what to say during your presentation, you may not need to include so much information on the slides themselves. Also, all your valuable up-to-the-minute data would have to be relegated to a handout, where it should be. Hint hint.

Those slide designers toiling away in the olden days were probably dreaming about a tool like PowerPoint, after commuting to work via jetpack. Let’s do ‘em proud by appreciating PowerPoint as an incredible tool, and using it like they would. One idea per slide, plenty of whitespace, and keep (most of) that data in a document” (Source).

Click here to read Tesch’s article in its entirety on the Duarte Design blog.

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