Visual Design: Don’t Forget Your Audience


When I learned that I would have a few very special guests attending my visual design lecture this month, I redesigned my lesson plans.  While these lessons aren’t quite Slideshare-ready yet, I would like to share them with you over the next few days.  I promise to debut the new visual design Slideshare presentation before the end of January!

The new lessons focus on teaching my students 7 key rules for effective slide design.  Read rule number one: Slides Are Not Documents; rule number two: Apply The Picture Superiority Effect; rule number three: Slides Should Be Simple; rule number four: Slides Must Have Unity; rule number five: Display Data Clearly; and rule number six: Use Multimedia Wisely.  Today, we cover the seventh and final rule of effective slide design:


Your presentation should be based upon the needs, wants, and hopes of your audience. Your slides should definitely take the crowd into consideration.  Additionally, you should spend enough time on your slideshow to honor and respect your audience.

Consider a 30 minute presentation in front of a crowd of 200 people.  Each of those 200 people are giving up 30 minutes of their lives to watch you present, so 6,000 collective minutes are at stake during your speech.  Is that time your audience will feel is wasted?

Creating slides should not be a race… Don’t speed through this important process.  Instead of rushing and hurrying to build a Keynote for your presentation, spend time storyboarding, carefully searching for the right images, and, most importantly, tweaking.


Chiara Ojeda introduced me to the concept of “tweaking slides” because of her commitment to constantly improving, revising, and growing in this area.  Now, before I complete a deck or share new slides with my students, I always ask for her opinion.  Just as rehearsing your content helps your message and your delivery, asking for slide advice helps you design the best possible Keynote.

Nancy Duarte believes in the three-pronged presentation ecosystem.  Jim Endicott believes in the three-legged presentation stool.  If you hope to deliver a strong presentation, each of these three legs much be strong.  Spending more time creating and revising your slides will ensure that third visual design leg is just as powerful as content and delivery.


2 thoughts on “Visual Design: Don’t Forget Your Audience

  1. As always, great advice Alex. My only suggestion is that this should be the #1 rule, since the audience is the whole reason why we are there to begin with (although I’m sure you aren’t posting these in any particular order of importance).

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