Tag Archives: Slide Presentation Design

Create a Presentation as you Travel

By using the SLIDING method you can create a presentation anytime, anywhere.

Create a Presentation as you Travel
Image by Cicava via FreeImages.com

I was speaking with two presenter friends of mine, Alan and Barbara, about the problems we all face when it comes time to create a presentation.  The first presenter, Alan, said that the biggest obstacle he faced was finding the time to create a presentation because he travels so much.  In response to this, the second presenter, Barbara, who travels even more than Alan, said she was actually at her most creative when she traveled, and came up with some of her best ideas while sitting in an airport lounge.

As we talked further I realized why their responses were so different.  When it came time to create a presentation the first thing Alan did was turn on his computer and open a presentation software app, like PowerPoint or Keynote.  Meanwhile, Barbara wouldn’t even look at her computer until well into her creative process. At Sliding.ca we subscribe to the process used by Barbara.  And, not surprisingly, to the use of our SLIDING method as a part of that process.

The SLIDING method:

  • Search for any information or materials that can be used to convey your message.
  • Learn about your audience; what is it they need and how can you help to fill that need.
  • Identify the information that directly relates to those needs.
  • Delete any and all information that doesn’t fully support your message or distracts from your message.
  • Integrate the information so that it is grouped logically and concisely.
  • Navigate through the information so that it has a sense of flow and rhythm.
  • Gauge your results and then go back and repeat the process.

The beauty of the SLIDING method is that most of the steps can be utilized anytime and anywhere.  In the early stages all you need to create a presentation is a piece of paper and a pencil.  This is the Search step of the process. By its very nature it is a relaxed, informal, free-flowing process.  Unfortunately, the moment Alan took out his computer his creative process became subservient to the mechanical processes of the machine and the constraints of the environment he was required to work within.

Barbara, on the other hand, found herself free to create in a much more organic and open way.  Whenever an idea would pop into her head, she would simply pull out her notebook, jot it down, and go back to whatever she was doing when inspiration struck.  The beauty of Barbara’s approach was that any idea that popped into her head could apply to and be used for any one of a myriad of topics she might be working on, or might work on in the future.

Conversely, the process Alan used to create a presentation forced him to think in a much more linear fashion.  It became about the words and how one sentence followed another instead of being about the ideas and, ultimately, the message he hoped to share with his audience.

Sitting in an airport lounge energized Barbara.  She loved the hustle and bustle and told me how she would get many of her ideas from watching the travelers pass by and wonder where they came from and where they were going to.  She would jot down descriptions of the passersby, notes about where she imagined they came from, and story lines about where she imagined they were going.

After gathering all this material, without ever needing to go near a computer, Barbara would draw on the ideas she had written down in order to create analogies and metaphors designed to help her to connect and communicate with her audience.  The next step of her process, and the SLIDING method, would be to Learn about her audience and which of the many ideas she came up with that would apply to their particular needs.

Whether sitting in an airport lounge, sipping coffee in a quiet café, or hard at work at the office you can begin to create a presentation without ever having to take out a computer or type a single word.  Then, when you are finally ready to commit words to screen and build the visual portion of your presentation, your message and your plot will be clear in your mind and you’ll have a story to tell. And, as we all know, in the 21st Century if you don’t have a story to tell, nobody’s going to listen.

In this article, I’ve focused on the Search portion of the SLIDING method. If you’d like to learn more about the entire SLIDING method and the seven key elements of a well structured, memorable, and effective presentation, go to our Sliding.ca home page and register for our monthly newsletter.

And remember, the next time you have to create a presentation, begin with paper and pencil; you’ll enjoy the freedom.

 

Cheers, Patrick

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Dodging Bullet Points

And a bit of Kevlar for those bullet points you cannot dodge

Chris Rock has a great line: “we don’t need gun control; we need bullet control.”  Applied to presentations, I think we need “bullet point control.” Here’s why.

 

Why do we use bullet points?

  • Generally, bullet points are used to separate elements on a list.  That sounds reasonable, but it’s not always necessary to use bullet points to achieve that end.  Here’s an example.
  • Search for content and metaphors to help you create a knowledge base and an idea pool for your next presentation.
  • Learn about your audience and your messages so you’ll effectively be able to filter out superfluous elements from your presentation.
  • Identify which elements of your knowledge base are appropriate to transmit the specific message to a particular audience.
  • Delete every idea that passed the initial scrutiny, but fails to pass now that you have a renewed perspective of your collection of ideas.
  • Integrate all those different ideas into natural or logical groups.
  • Navigate the groups created in the previous step and arrange them in a way that has flow and shows contrast.
  • Gauge the effectiveness of the presentation and then go back and make it better.

Bullet points may make it easier to read and separate the elements of a list, but slides offer very limited real estate, which we have to use to our best advantage in conveying our message.  Because of this intrinsic limitation, I believe bullet points should be restricted to documents and speaker notes.

 

How do we dodge the bullet points?

Every time you’re faced with the need to present information on a slide in the form of a bulleted list, ask yourself the following questions:

  1.  What can I do to reduce the amount of text on my slide (leave only enough text to convey your message effectively)?
  2.  Are the elements of the list part of a system or a process?
  3.  If they are not part of system or process, what can I do to separate the elements of the list?

In response to question number one I’ll utilize the same example that I used previously. Here is that list after trimming it down to its core elements.  As you can see, this list is now much easier to read.

  • Search
  • Identify
  • Learn
  • Delete
  • Integrate
  • Navigate
  • Gauge

Of course, you must be wondering what you’re going to do with all the information that you removed.  The answer to that question is twofold:

  1. You will share that information verbally when you display the slide
  2. You will include the information in your handouts.

In response to question number two, if the elements of your list are part of a system or a process, then use a diagram to illustrate the relationship between the components of your list.  Using Search, Identify, Learn, Delete, Integrate, Navigate, and Gauge as an example, this is how we chose to display the steps in that list using a diagram:

The SLIDING Method Img.001

Fortunately, PowerPoint, comes with a large collection of diagrams (Microsoft calls them SmartArt), or if you want something slightly different (please, no 3D effects: such as volume, shades, reflections, et cetera), you can try the diagrams on sites like:

Finally, answering to question number three, to make the separation clearer while avoiding boring bullet points, you could use other design elements like blocks, position, and/or colour (or a combination of them); as these examples show:

No bullet points agenda 1 No bullet points agenda 3

 

What else can I do?

To create a more memorable and easy to follow experience for your audience you can also use animations to build your lists or diagrams.  By bringing in one element at a time, your audience will pay more attention, and it will be simpler for you to talk about the list, process, or system.  Consequently, it’ll be easier for your audience to absorb and remember your message.

If you found that using bullet points was unavoidable, this is the Kevlar to protect your audience from those bullet points.

 

Recap, please?

Make your presentation bulletproof by following these simple steps:

  1. Reduce the amount of text on each slide.
  2. Separate the elements of your list, use visual tools like space, colour, blocks, or diagrams, and then
  3. Introduce each of those elements separately using animations.

 

Join the movement; say no to bullet points!

 

Cheers, Gerardo.

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