5 Easy Ways to Visually Revitalize A Mind-Numbing PPT
1) If you can’t find the right image, make what you need!
Stop settling for clip art and icons that just aren’t quite right or have a watermark through them! It looks tacky and unprofessional, and can be misleading if it doesn’t coincide with the message you’re trying to convey.
Creating your own custom images is not difficult. The image you see above was made with Google, Word, and Paint. I will admit–I do not have the slightest clue how to use Photoshop, but I get by in 99% situations with the same G/W/P method.
- Find your images with Google Images search. I narrow my search further using the size filter(large for best resolution) and color filter if I want it to coordinate with my color scheme.
- Add accent PNGs to your main image. The PowerPoint logo above is a “.png” file that can overlay the background image without a block white background. Just enter your keywords along with “png” and see what shows up. When in doubt, find background and accent components that both have black or both have white backgrounds so you can stack them on top of each other without seeing picture borders.
- Paste both images into a Word document, get them lined up, zoom in to desired size, and hit “Print Screen”.
- Paste into Paint–your screenshot appears. Crop down to the image you want and save as a .png or a .jpg.
2) Templates? We don’t need no stinkin’ templates!
Many stock backgrounds for PowerPoint are painful to view. Rather than succumb to odd-looking layouts and color schemes, I like to build my own theme, starting with a good background. My favorite background is to find a relevant photograph, ideally one that features attendees of the presentation. I may leave the photograph full-color for the title page, but then I convert it to a suitable background by tweaking color/tint, brightness and contrast.
The audience loves seeing a photo from a previous organization event, their office, the destination of a future meeting, etc. I think this technique looks amazing, especially in black and white. Way better than some of these goofy pre-loaded backgrounds and themes.
3) Chart the Course…Before AND During
People like seeing the bigger picture of the presentation and want to know where you’re taking them and in what order. Give a preview of your presentation’s outline at the beginning, but don’t stop there! Touch base with your “presentation agenda” each time you switch gears. It will make the transition easier for the audience. Plus, there is a certain satisfaction with being able to cross an item off the list–one step closer to the big finish, and the same addictive gratification that comes from striking out a to-do item with a big red Sharpie.
The key to implementing this efficiently is knowing your topics before you begin…or wait until the very end to create these slides. Make a single slide with all items highlighted. This serves as your table of contents. Duplicate this “TOC” slide as many times as you have categories. Move a copy to each place in the presentation when you’re switching gears. Change the font color for all section other than the one being featured to focus attention on the topic at hand. If you forget a section and try to add anything last-minute, you will be spending extra time formatting multiple slides to get them to match–much easier to perfect the TOC slide and duplicate for your Topic Slides once you have the TOC just right and the presentation finished.
I always sequence Title Slide, TOC Slide, 1st Topic Slide–this gives the illusion of an animation when you transition from TOC to 1st Topic. With the click of the mouse, all other topics seamlessly gray-out, leaving only the first topic of conversation lit.
Lastly, consider maintaining continuity by providing a reference for where we’re at in the process. Feature the topic subheading discretely on the slide.
4) Consider a Visual TOC
Many of us respond strongly to visual information. Consider using a visual table of contents to frame the conversation topics at the beginning of your presentation rather than a written agenda as demonstrated above. Photos or images are used to represent each topic area to be covered.
Tip 4 plays directly into Tips 2 and 3–the visual cue for the agenda item can then become the background for the slide after adjustment (Tip 2), and you may even create spacing slides between topic areas in which topic already covered or not currently being discussed are “grayed-out” while the topic at hand is left colorized (Tip 3).
5) Stick With Your Picks
Limit your playtime with fonts, picture frame styles, slide transition animations (if you must), etc. After you have explored your options, it’s time to make a decision and move on. Many PPT authors are guilty of creating slides with a raging case of multiple personality disorder.
Pick a font (possibly two; one title, one body). I like variation in my presentations, but not when it comes to fonts. I find one clean, sans serif font for the entire presentation. From that, I will use multiple colors, bold, italics, and sizes…but I will not vary the font type. I believe having multiple fonts on the same page creates an unnecessary cluttered and choppy look. Keep it tight and simple–minimalistic slides are capable of delivering maximum results.
After all, it’s really not about the presentation, it’s about the presenter.
Next, learn to engage your listeners with Part 2: Captivate Your Audience!