We love PowerPoint. We just think it should be regulated, like (ahem) guns. Clearly not everyone should be allowed to use it. The PowerPoint decks we create at Spark obey certain rules—one idea per slide, limitations on number of words, hot visuals, powerful underlying logic or narrative. And while design skills help, design thinking, with its principles of empathy (for the audience, obvs), is of paramount importance. We like to keep tabs on the latest in deck design. We are sharing a few nuggets below.
We all know that moment. Someone pulls up a PowerPoint presentation and the title appears. The subject looks promising, and the introduction is strong. But then they pull up page one—of 89!—and you can't read the text over the busy background. Page two has a bar chart with labels so small that they look like gnats over skyscrapers. By page three, you've lost the plot entirely.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Go buy a copy of Nancy Duarte’s Slideology. Send it anonymously to the speaker. You're welcome.
Bells & Whistles
Prezi has long been the hipster alternative to PowerPoint, guaranteed to baffle those over the age of fifty. But Prezi’s CEO, Peter Arvai, has a more immersive vision in mind, namely using augmented reality to create a more integrated presentation experience. Depending on the direction their research takes, it could open up whole new avenues of interaction with information. We can't wait to try it.
AR may be the future, but PowerPoint is the present. Don't screw it up.
- For one thing, don’t use bullet points.
- Bullets have their place, but people usually make each bullet too long, sometimes even an entire paragraph, and a lot of information gets lost because they are presenting James Joycean stream-of-consciousness text rather than the essence of a thought that just guides the audience to the really big point they are making.
- People also forget to put space in between bullets, so that the bulleted list appears to be a big grey block with some dots next to it.
- Text in decks should be short.
- Really short.
- Absorbed-in-a-glance short.
- Seriously, isn’t this annoying?