Archive for the ‘Design Opinion’ Category

6 PowerPoint mistakes — even good designers make (infographic)

In Design Opinion, PowerPoint Misc on August 5, 2014 at 9:28 pm
Even great designers make mistakes when creating PowerPoint slides. The key is to avoid these before the big presentation. Click the image to download a PDF of PowerPoint Mistakes.

Even great designers make mistakes when creating PowerPoint slides. The key is to avoid these before the big presentation. Click the image to download a PDF of PowerPoint Mistakes.


Flat Design in PowerPoint – Trend or Revolution

In Design Opinion on June 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm

I often look to web graphic design trends for inspiration in presentation design.

Flat design has taken the web design world by storm for several years. It’s so pervasive in web design that I hesitate to call it a trend. That said, I welcome this simple design approach that uses flat shapes and icons that can be created with rectangles, circles, triangles and other shapes without busy shadows and gradients. I believe it’s use in presentations borders on revolutionary.

Rooted in two fundamentals of design, simplicity and readability, I welcome this style to the world of PowerPoint design where it is imperative that we tell our message effectively. Here are the main reasons I think flat design was made for PowerPoint.

1. Flat design is universal and easy to recognize. Can you remember a time when public restrooms were identified with anything but these symbols?

Flat design is universal

Flat design is universal

When thinking in terms of slide design, easy to recognize graphics that are universally understood will go a long way in supporting the presenter (instead of forcing the audience to gaze at the slide in bewilderment)

2. Just like flat design lends simplicity to web design, it allows for a cleaner layout on your slides – without shadows and 3D elements you’ll find more white space and organization on your slide. This design style drives a minimalist approach with typography, white space and color.

Before flat design

Before flat design

After flat design

After flat design

3. Flat design is fairly easy to create using native PowerPoint tools. The top image below (yellow shapes) shows how basic PowerPoint shapes were used to create the next (blue) graphic.

Flat design elements can be created using basic PowerPoint tools

Flat design elements can be created using basic PowerPoint tools

Flat design created from basic PowerPoint tools

Flat design created from basic PowerPoint tools

While flat design may be a trend in the web design world, I find it a revolutionary approach to presentation design. The tenants of simplicity that this style brings to presentations could be responsible for eliminating death by PowerPoint. I hope it stays around.

Applying Insight Selling Technique to Your PowerPoint Presentations

In Design Opinion on September 7, 2012 at 3:21 pm

In a single day, two  of my clients discussed strategies on how they would like sell to potential customers. They used the term “Insight Selling,” citing the rationale that today’s customers are engaging suppliers only after they have done significant due diligence to determine their needs, identify a solution, and settle on a price they are willing to pay for that solution (57% have already made their purchase decision by time you are in the game). That means, salespeople are being relegated to a role of fulfillment and price competition by the time a customer reaches out to them.

Because no one wants to be in that position, the best sales people get to prospects before the typical sales funnel starts and begin to shape the nature of their demands by teaching with insight where customers learn.

So how does this apply to PowerPoint presentations? Take a look at this graphic. It details how one might use Insight Selling to shape a client’s demand. However,  I see this pitch deconstruction as a very “insightful” sales presentation flow: Image 1 — Data source: CEB. See their site at http://saleschallenger.exbdblogs.com/tag/insight-selling/

Insight Selling Presentation Flow

Image 1

Here’s how Eaton Corporation,  a U.S. based diversified power management company and global technology leader in electrical systems for power quality, distribution and control, is in part, driving their corporation to PowerPoint Responsibly.

Step 1 —  “The Warmer:” in this part of the presentation,   establish empathy with the prospect by demonstrating understanding of their problem. A simple example in this case might be, “We understand your company’s challenge to increase costs while improving productivity.” The prospect should be neutrally intrigued at this point.

Step 2 — Reframe: this is the opportunity to disrupt the way a prospect thinks about purchasing product for his company.  Example: “Did you know that the part you are currently purchasing needs to be replaced on average 10 times per year?”  Still intrigued, the prospect’s excitement level increases while he realizes that yes, the product he purchased has a similar failure rate.

Step 3 & Step 4– Rational Drowning & Emotional Impact: This is where a presentation personalizes the newly reframed problem for the prospect. Example: “That means on average, your company spends $___ each year in travel time and employee downtime to fix and replace the product .” The prospect might be feeling a little tense here.

Step5 – Value Proposition: Introduce a new way to look at the solution. Example: “Instead of just looking at purchasing less expensive parts to reduce your hard costs, consider purchasing a product that fails less and can reduce your variable costs.”  Things are looking up at this point and you’ve probably successfully disrupted the way he has been thinking about purchasing parts all along.

Step 6 — Our Solution:  Now, and only now, introduce the solution. “Not only will you reduce the number of times you have to replace Product A, you will also save money on repair, travel and downtime costs. That averages out to $___ kajillion dollars in a year’s time.”

This last step is really important. If you don’t drive everything presented in Steps 1- 4 back to your company’s product/service solution, you’ve just provide free consulting.

3 Steps to More Powerful PowerPoint Slides

In Design Opinion on February 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm

Step 1
Write your script ­ or notes. Do this in PowerPoint’s speaker’s notes section. Write one note page per idea. DO NOT start writing on your slides.

Step 2
Find a notebook (I have an 8.5 X 11 storyboarding sketchbook) and jot down your headlines, using each page as a slide. Based on your notes, draft a concise key takeaway that will give your audience insight in to the graphic you will create in Step 3.

Step 3
DRAW your support for your headline on each page that you created in Step 2. That’s right don’t touch PowerPoint. This is where you need to be creative — and not limited by what you think you can do in PowerPoint.  With your mind, paper and pencil the sky is the limit when it comes to brainstorming ideas.  And speaking of brainstorming, this is a great time to pull in teamates to develop great image ideas for your slides. Refer to your notes, then create an image that will help the audience understand and remember the key point of your slide.

You will finalize the image later in your PowerPoint slide. It is at this point, you can decide on whether you have the capability and grasp of PowerPoint needed to create the graphics, if you need to turn it over to an admin, or call on the help of a PowerPoint expert.

Are freelance designers missing out on a business opportunity?

In Design Opinion on January 27, 2012 at 12:56 pm
Business Opportunity Comparision
Because she’s willing to create presentations using the software that is most appropriate for an end-user, theWiz broadens potential business opportunities.

It’s the age-old issue: Mac vs. PC.  Which is better? Designers will tell you that the Mac, hands-down, is better for fine design. I won’t argue that point. I respect their devotion.

Now let’s discuss business. I’m in the business of creating great PowerPoint presentations for clients all over the world. I work largely on a PC —  because most of my clients are on PCs.  That said, these PC clients use various versions of PowerPoint, including PowerPoint 2000 (I haven’t run into PPT ’97 for a while), 2003, 2007 and 2010. And, God Bless ‘Em, a few of my clients are on a Mac, running PowerPoint 2004, 2008 and 2011.

And one client uses Keynote.

So, how do I deliver product for these varying end users/uses? I create the presentation materials using the software program that my clients use. End of story. That way, they have what they need to conduct business without dealing with compatibility issues because their designer created the presentation in another version — or program. An added bonus — I’m pretty smart about the potential problems they might face when their materials interact with other presentation software.  I help my clients understand these potential issues, how to avoid them or how to troubleshoot them.  And if all else fails, pick up the phone and call me for help.

That’s business. I get a ton of business because I evaluate end-user needs and use the appropriate software program to create presentations. I’m there for them when they face problems. For those designers who are Mac/Keynote devotees — and want more business — I’d recommend they become more computer/program/software agnostic and help out their clients a little bit.

PowerPoint Audiences are People, Too

In Design Opinion on January 12, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I “grew up” in the marketing and advertising world. For each project we carefully analyzed the target audience in an effort to create relevant and effective materials that connect with them emotionally and compel them to act. We leveraged information using market research, demographics and psychographies. That strategic approach to communications has served me well in my PowerPoint presentation design business.

And that’s why I always ask my clients to help me understand the audience(s) who will be receiving their presentation. Not surprisingly the audiences vary. They vary by age. They vary by profession. They vary by primary language. The differences are endless.

‘Good stuff to know — the differences.

But understanding what each member of your target audience(s) has in common with another, is what I believe makes for a better presentation. It’s understanding that each and every member of an audience is a human being (well, for the presentations I create, anyway). It’s understanding that human beings learn in very specific ways and that a 50-slide PowerPoint presentation stuffed full of paragraph-length bullet points and chart junk (God love ya, Mr.Tufte) does not facilitate learning.

Creating a memorable presentation facilitates learning. Now, I’m not talking about the goose-bumpy, aw-inspiring, keynote type of memorable (which is always a nice touch; right? but not everyone is capable of  delivering that sort of presentation). I mean, a presentation from which people, mere humans, can remember what was said.

So how does one make a presentation “memorable?” How does one help people remember what he or she said? I use science. Yep. It’s called the Redundancy Principal. It’s one of 12 principles developed by Richard Mayer and originally published in his book, Multimedia Learning. The Redundancy Principal states that:

”People learn better from graphics and narration thanfrom graphics, narration, and on-screen text.”

What does that mean for those of us who create PowerPoint presentations (or any presentation using any software program)? Each slide should be designed using  a relevant graphic that relies on the presenter to provide the narrative (vs. the narrative being on the slide. This positions the presenter as the expert — and who wants to listen to a presenter who is not the expert?). Headlines are also important. I’ll discuss that later.

Remember, PowerPoint Audiences are People, Too. Or, perhaps better said, ” … People, First.” By remembering this human element when creating your PowerPoint presentations, you’ll design slides that connect with your audiences in a very intellectual and emotional way.

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