Not long ago, I got a contact request on Linked-In from Bogdan Klopov at Visme. Visme are a new-ish presentation software company that I tried out a couple of years ago. The software is cool, with a drag and drop interface that feels like it’s a balancing act between things like PowerPoint and the simplicity of Canva’s Presentation Maker. If you need power, then Powerpoint is your best option but for other stuff it might be worth checking out. Visme isn’t for me (or any other pro communicator, I suspect) because it’s not functional enough but if you’re a more casual presenter it’s worth a look.)
Your experience might be different to mine, of course – have a look and let me know what you think! (Visme presentation software).
Software aside, Visme has a very strong blog about how to use the software and how to make presentations in general. This post, for example, links to some fun data visualisations that might inspire your next slides.
When Bogdan contacted me, he’d read a review of the atomicon19 conference I’d written and, despite not having been able to attend himself, had an opinion about my review. My opinion was wrong, he said, because I’d not mentioned the visual elements of the presentations. It wasn’t relevant to the blog, so I hadn’t, but technically he was right – I’d not mentioned it. In particular, Bogdan wanted me to promote a blog on their website called “100+ Creative Presentation Ideas That Will Delight Your Audience“
So here’s some thoughts on the presentations blog of 100+ ideas!
Don’t panic, I’m going to get more positive later, but stay with me for the first few paragraphs here! I’m going to look like a jerk in the process though… oops!
Let’s start at the top with the first idea – using neon colours. The example we’ve got is from Mountain Dew and it suits their style. (Incidentally, the video the slide is apparently taken from doesn’t feature the slide but that’s a separate issue.)
The key thing here is that you can’t go around using neon for the sake of it. It has to suit the presentation’s message. If your message is that you’ve got more money than class, this would work 😉 Nothing wrong with neon per se, just be careful about where/when/why you use it. Otherwise – like every other trick, it’s gratuitous and gets in the the way of the message.
Neon might or might not delight your audience, but the message is king. Audiences are only queen.
Similarly, there’s nothing inherently wrong with tip two – be minimal – if it’s done right. My irritation is that it wasn’t in the example on the blog.
There’s a difference between being minimal on your slide, and your slide being illegible! Trust me, no matter how big you make that screenshot, the text just isn’t going to cut it! 🙂
To be fair, the blog does say you shouldn’t do this with text-heavy presentations, so that’s cool.
Unless you have trouble reading, of course.
Speaking of having trouble reading, let’s look at tip five – using duotones. Now there’s nothing inherently wrong with using duotones but it does make it harder to make your presentation legible. Even the example in the blog, which I presume is supposed to be a good example, shows how very hard this can be. As the Visme blog says, slides done like this can be cool and edgy… but they can also be illegible.
Done with care, skill and caution it’s okay, but at your own risk! 🙂 Here’s an example presentation slide
Yes, I know you can read the text “Create Modeling slide” but it’s not as easy as if it was, say, in white. Brain-space that your audience has to spend figuring out what your slide says is brain-space they can’t spend on learning what you mean, what it means to them, and how to apply it. It’s the visual equivalent of whispering your presentation so your audience can barely hear it, or speaking in a very strong accent. If they’re straining to hear/make out the words, they can’t spare as much mental energy to understanding them.
To be honest, I’ve got the same problem with presentation tip number 13 – using a monochrome palette. The idea I can “create a presentation in shades of blue, or in shades of orange” means that I’ve slides will be blue on blue, or orange on orange. The army has a word for that kind of pattern – it’s called camouflage and for slide designs it’s often a bloody stupid idea.
Here’s a silly example of it to prove the point. Grey text on grey background.
Yes, you can read it, but not as easily as black text on a while background. Slides are for your audience, not to look ‘cool’.
About this point in exploring the post I realised I’d mis-understood the nature of the blog post – my bad!
Like changing a monochrome filter at the start of Wizard of Oz, when I came back to the blog in a better mood I suddenly realised that the point of the blog wasn’t to provide good ideas or advice – just to provide ideas. It’s up you, gentle reader, to apply some common sense and decide if these ideas do two things
- firstly, will your audience be delighted by whatever-presentation-trick-you-pick
- secondly, will whatever-presentation-trick-you-pick help you get your message over?
Let’s start again
Do these ideas make your slides look cool?
Lots of them do. As you can see from the images above, lots of them look very cool. If the coolness doesn’t compromised the usefulness, then think about it! And there are some very cool ideas in Visme which are hard to replicate in other packages.
The sideways slide transition is a nice example.
Slide transitions are always a bit of tricky ground and one of the most common places where people can’t resist bunging in something for the sake of it. No transition is like a square wheel though, so something that smoothes things over between slides can be very helpful. And I must admit that the horizontal transition effect looks very cool
And what’s more, it doesn’t get in the way of your audience’s ability to understand your presentation or concentrate on your content! (Side note: I’m not endorsing those designs, just illustrating the transition!)
So what now?
So now you’ve got a better idea of the blog it’s time to figure out how to use it. By all means go over and have a look – there’s a looooot of work there and with over 100 ideas, allow yourself some time.
Here’s the best approach – it’s pretty simple:
- design your presentation
- get an idea in your head of the sorts of things that would make it more visually appealing
- get another idea in your head of the things that would not help and/or fit with the content of your presentation
- to go the blog scroll through looking for things that work for point two but don’t fall foul of point three (simple!)
- apply that idea
- drink tea.