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Part III: Slides and Other Visual Aids > 10 Tips for Planning Successful Slides...

Chapter 9. 10 Tips for Planning Successful Slides and Visuals

When considering what type of visual representation to use for your data or ideas, here are some rules of thumb to consider:

  1. Use slides sparingly. One of the biggest problems in technical presentations is the overuse of slides. A useful rule of thumb is one slide for every two minutes of presentation time.

  2. Make slides pictorial. Graphs, pictures of equipment, flow charts, etc., all give the viewer an insight that would otherwise require many words or columns of numbers.

  3. Present one key point per slide. Keep the focus of the slide simple and clear. Presenting more than one main idea per slide can seriously detract from the impact.

  4. Make text and numbers legible. Minimum font size for most room set-ups is 20 pt. Can the audience read everything? If not, be prepared to provide additional explanation in handout material or highlight the areas of the chart where you want the audience to focus.

  5. Use color carefully. Use no more than three or four colors per slide to avoid a cluttered look. The colors used should contrast with each other to provide maximum visibility—for example, a dark blue background with light yellow letters or numbers.

  6. Make visuals big enough to see. Walk to the last row where people will be sitting and make sure that everything on the slide can be seen clearly.

  7. Graph data. Whenever possible avoid tabular data in favor of graphs. Graphs allow the viewer to picture the information and data in a way that numbers alone can’t. Information on how to graph data is provided on the following pages.

  8. Make pictures and diagrams easy to see. Too often pictures and diagrams are difficult to see from a distance. The best way to ascertain this is to view it from the back of the room. Make sure that labels inside the diagrams are legible from the back row also.

  9. Avoid unnecessary slides. If something can be stated simply and orally, such as the title of a presentation, there is no need for a slide.

  10. Use builds and animation very sparingly. They can interfere with the content of your message.



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