понедельник, 8 июля 2019 г.

Takeaways from the Preparing Slides Course

About a week ago I finished going through the Presentation Skills: Designing Presentation Slides course on Coursera. It proved to be a rather helpful guide for someone fully depraved of the ability to assemble anything that looks good in PowerPoint. If you belong to this kind like I did, I fully recommend the course - that's a moderate investment that offers quick returns. Below are some of the key lessons that I learnt from the course:

  1. While working on slides I must ensure three things:
    • Focus – I should draw the attention of my audience to the most important idea on the slide,
    • Contrast – the slide should communicate what is most important and what is the detail of secondary importance,
    • Unity – the slide should focus on one thing or idea; I should search for things that can be removed.
  2. Slides should be functional, look professionally and entertain when possible. Order matters.
  3. There’s no such thing as “too much text” – rather “too much text out of context”. In other words, if the text is important it can be properly arranged and styled in such a way that the slide will be readable – the problem is usually how we present the text.
  4. Allowed level of complexity (e.g. of a chart on a slide) depends strongly on the readiness of the audience to perceive it. The size of the audience is a good proxy for that readiness: the larger the audience the less ready it is to try to understand complex stuff.
  5. Less decoration is good. Adding decoration doesn’t make the slide look good – introducing structure does that. Overall, I should try to remove as much decoration as I can – in particular in tables.
  6. You can achieve a lot in terms of readability by means of good structure and typography.
  7. Outside of the branding-related decoration/slide template I may use a maximum of two colors.
  8. One of which is the color of the main text – black, dark gray or dark blue.
  9. I may use another color for a couple crucial words or, better, icons and focal points like that
  10. Max 2-3 words should be bold.
  11. Bold means more important, italics means less important. Sounds controversial, but visually looks reasonable: bold stands out from the slide, while italics sort of leans to the background.
  12. Font size should be used to introduce structure, which should communicate importance.
  13. Photos should be large and few, icons – small and numerous.
  14. Bullet lists can be arranged horizontally and they look better and more readable this way – because it allows to introduce clearer structure and contrast.
  15. There are the Align and Distribute tools in PowerPoint – save a lot of time arranging stuff on the slide when building structure.
  16. Plus a dozen interesting and practical details about typography, colors and visuals on the slides.