Developer Advocacy

The Art of Slide Design

Melinda Seckington shares how some simple design element tweaks can magnify the impact of your presentation.
Video

Summary:

  • How do you design effective slides?

    • How do you create slides that are compelling and help your audience understand what you’re trying to say?

    • Principles for slide design

  • Principles for slide design

    • Maximise Signal, Minimise Noise

      • Maximise relevant information rather than irrelevant information.

    • Make Important Information Stand out

      • Use contrast in your slides to make things memorable.

    • Show and Tell

      • Information recall is better when combining text and images.

    • Be consistent

      • Use consistent designs for slides with the same purpose.

  • Maximise Signal, Minimise Noise

    • Focus on one purpose per slide.

    • Slides are not your teleprompter.

    • Your slides are not meant as notes or references for people after your talk.

  • Make important information stand out

    • Colours

    • Shapes

    • Size

  • Show and tell

    • Photos

    • Icons

    • Shapes

    • Animations

  • Be Consistent

    • Use consistent designs for slides with the same purpose.

Scribble:

The goal of the presentation

  • There are endless motivations for giving a presentation and no two presentations will ever really be the same.

  • Yet, at the heart of it, they all have one thing in common.

  • No matter what your presentation is about, your number one goal as a presenter is to allow your audience to absorb your information

What are Effective slides?

‌Cognitive load

  • This is the amount of mental activity required to accomplish a goal.

  • So, mental activity being things like perception, memory, and problem-solving.

Effective slides?

  • Slides that help reduce that cognitive load.

  • Slides that help effective help your audience consume your information.

How do you create design effective slides?

How do you create slides that are compelling and help your audience understand what you’re trying to say?

Principles for slide design

  • Maximise Signal, Minimise Noise

  • Make Important Information Stand out

  • Show and Tell

  • Be consistent

Maximise signal, minimise noise

  • So this principle comes from the theory of signal-to-noise ratio.

  • The concept is that in every type of communication we have, there is a certain amount of relevant information, the signal, and there is a certain amount of irrelevant information, the noise.

  • We want to maximise relevant information rather than irrelevant information.

How do we do that in our slide designs? How do we make sure that the information on our slides is mainly relevant rather than irrelevant?

Maximise Signal

  • Focus on one purpose per slide.

    • So this is about maximising the signal.

      • The moment a slide has multiple purposes, it dilutes the relevant information.

      • So rather than having a single slide -- split them out over several slides.

  • Slides are not your teleprompter.

    • You’re using your slides to get a point across to your audience and you’re using your slides as reminders to yourself.

    • If you really need something to help you remember what to say, use your presenter notes for that because that’s what they’re there for.

  • Your slides are not meant as notes or references for people after your talk.

    • Your slides are meant for the audience that is there in the room with you.

    • If you need to share something with people afterwards, use a format that actually makes sense for that.

    • So a blog post or a video of a talk or anything other than the slides that are meant for your audience.

Minimise distraction

  • We’re trying to minimise noise.

  • Ensuring that we don’t have any irrelevant information.

  • Try to use common sense and just make your slides clean and simple.

Ways of being distracting

  • Too much text on one slide.

    • So the moment you have a slide like this (one with lots of texts), people stop listening to you.‌

  • Too much going on them.

    • So keep your slides simple and clean so that they’re not visually distracting.

So this is exactly the same images as before, but because there’s no overlapping and because there’s no text over it it’s much easier for the audience to process.

Make important information stand out.

  • Contrast the state of being strikingly different from something else in juxtaposition or close association.

  • Use contrast in your slides to make things memorable.

Ways

  • Colours

    • Choose a colour palette that has contrasting colours.

    • Besides using contrast within slides, you can also use the contrast between slides.

  • Shapes

    • Circles, squares, triangles.

    • Fonts

      • The way of achieving contrast is through using different types of fonts within your presentation. ‌

      • Using different fonts within the same phrase or sentence. So the contrast is used to highlight specific words.

      • Using different fonts for different elements on the slide.

  • Size

    • grabbing an element and making it bigger. ‌

Show and Tell

  • This principle comes from the picture superiority effect -- information recall is better when combining text and images.

Ways

  • Photos

    • Makes your slides more lively, more memorable.

    • Maximise signal, minimise noise -- make sure it’s relevant.

    • Completely fill-up the slide and then pair it in some way with text over it.

      • The audience will have a much more visceral reaction, which, again, makes it more memorable.

  • Icons

  • So the easiest resource for icons is the Noun Project. This website offers a ton of royalty-free icons of all different topics. And you’re bound to find icons in there that you can use. I even found one for Synergy once. And I’m really annoyed with myself for looking that up.

  • Shapes

    • Simple pie charts.

    • Building diagrams that are much clearer than relying on text alone.

  • Animations

    • Don’t misuse them.

    • Keep it as relevant as possible

Be Consistent

  • “The usability of a system is improved when similar parts are expressed in similar ways.”

  • Use consistent designs for slides with the same purpose.

Ways

  • Identifying patterns

    • So this is all about identifying your slide patterns.

    • What are the types of slides within your presentation? ‌

    • Helps as your audience has reference points.

    • They become easier to process even though it, kind of, might happen subconsciously. ‌

“I don’t believe that there is one true way of creating slides. So this whole talk isn’t about getting you all to create the same type of slides that I do, but rather it’s helping you to get a basic understanding of design and applying it to your own style and presentations.”