Creating your visual aids

Presentation Slide Design – Think Like an Advertiser


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Presentation slides are a lot like adverts. They’re your chance to visually tell your story – share something about you, your company, products or ideas with others. Like adverts, presentation slides come in all styles. But the best are simple, with one clear message and only one thing demanding your attention.

I took this picture of an Apple advert on the London Underground, where advertisers are given a huge billboard. They usually fill up the space with big images and lots of text – but here Apple show that you need none of that.

Presentation Slide Design – Less is More

The value your audience gets out of your presentation isn’t proportional to the amount you put on your slides. In fact, it’s often the case that the more you put in front of people, the less they understand and remember.

If you want your audience to remember and understand what you’re saying – regardless of how complicated it is, filter and distil your presentation until you’re left with the bare, essential facts.

Summarise these in your slides, then cut and cut the content in your slides down until you’re only ever displaying what’s truly valuable to your audience. What do your audience need from your slides?

  • Visuals to help them to understand complex ideas.
  • Visuals to help them to remember your key point.
  • Context to show how what you’re saying fits in to your presentation as a whole.

One image is plenty. Three words can usually make a point better than ten. And it is never a good idea to display information that you’re not discussing verbally.

Next time you’re designing presentation visuals, try to resist the urge to fill in the space. Instead, find out the one or two things that are truly important to show, and give them space to breathe.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey
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