We are Word template designers too (Shhh!)

Word template designers

We didn’t want to shout about it, as it’s probably not cool at all: but we also have Word template designers here at Presented. (Obviously you already know that PowerPoint is our main cool-tool).

So if your company’s Word templates need some TLC, drop a line to team@presented.co.uk

How to make your presentations reflect the value of your business.

Step 1: Save time and stress by getting us, the experts, to do it for you!

The end.

I’m kidding, but also not kidding – you and your team have better things to do than slog away for hours in PowerPoint. We hear hundreds of sob stories every year about how many hours are wasted putting poorly designed presentations together.

We have the speed and expertise to take this pain away from you. And once you have a well designed set of slides – in a functional and easy to use template – you’ll find it easier and faster to maintain that standard. After all, most slides can be reused over and over, so if they already look amazing, then you’re set. It’s a worthwhile investment.

Step 2: Evaluate what your company is presenting

Many presenters think that what they do is fine – because everyone else is looking the same. But this should not be permission to keep producing low level presentations. A recent contact heard that his Sales team were satisfied with their presentations as they claimed to be “the best of a bad bunch.” His response?

“I don’t want us to be at the top of the shit pile!”

Step 3: Make some simple changes

So, don’t settle for mediocrity: improve your presentations and your results / conversions / goals will improve too. The design council reported that for every £1 spent on design, you get a £4 return*.

We can help you; working with us isn’t at all painful, and you’ll have something beautiful/valuable to show for it. If you prefer to make your own small improvements, here are some pointers:

1) Avoid bullet points & paragraphs.
Alternative ideas to a list of bullets include popping each sentence into a shape (e.g. a square) and laying those out on the slide in a grid. And avoid paragraphs: do we need to tell you this!? Reduce your text so that it’s good for your audience to experience. They don’t want to read, they want to listen. They cannot listen if you’re presenting them with loads of text to read.

2) Use diagrams, icons, images – that are relevant
I think everyone knows “less text, more images”. But it’s best to avoid photography as it’s usually distracting to your message. Indeed, having no photo is often better (from a communication point of view) than one that looks amazing but is purely decorative. One of the few exceptions is when you’re sharing a photo of your product.

Instead, text content can often be transformed into infographics, data can be visualised in charts instead of tables, icons can be used to code recurring themes, and diagrams that build with animation can dramatically simplify processes and other complex content.

We love to transform all sorts of content types. It can be challenging, but our team have loads of creative ideas and love the challenge.

3) Follow your branding.
If you’re following a company template: Stick to your colours. Stick to your fonts. Use Layouts within your Slides Masters (these should be included in any decent template). Obey where your content should be located – you might follow a grid, or have a simpler rule to keep within certain margins. It looks terrible if your slide titles are inconsistently located or styled, or if everyone is doing different things. Try using the Reset button, or use guides to visually confirm the positioning.

Finally – here are some before and after samples to illustrate some of the above points:

BEFORE POWERPOINT SLIDES:
 
AFTER POWERPOINT SLIDES:
We are here to help you. To discuss more ideas or if you’re convinced you need to stop wasting your own time designing and endlessly formatting PowerPoint and Word – just drop the team an email, or give us a call.
*https://www.designcouncil.org.uk/news-opinion/new-government-figures-show-uk-has-largest-design-sector-europe. 

Reduce cognitive load in PowerPoint presentations

Our working memory is limited. Our brains can only absorb a certain about of information when new ideas are shared or presented to us. To make your presentation truly memorable you need to consider the limits of working memory and ways to reduce cognitive load. It doesn’t matter how charismatic and entertaining you are, if you overload the memories of your audience, they simply won’t remember it all.

Key messages

When designing your PowerPoint presentation think about what information you want the audience to take away with them, what are your key messages (think in 3s). Make sure these points are emphasized and explained simply without any extraneous “noise”. Include a menu at the start of the presentation and reduce the text on your slides as much as possible. If you are presenting live you do not need to have every word on the screen – your slides should be a visual aid.

Complex content

One consideration is the complexity of your content – is your subject matter difficult to explain and therefore difficult to learn and remember? As a presenter it is your job to keep your message simple in order to keep your content memorable. This may mean that you are required to break down more complex information into smaller, simpler parts. Similarly, with charts and diagrams, break them down into smaller pieces and use animation and slide transitions to accentuate how everything comes together and highlight key numbers.

Clearing the junk to reduce cognitive load

The human brain prefers spatial, visual learning and it has been shown that people have 6x better recall when both verbal and visual channels are used together. Avoid extraneous data overload and make it easier for yourself – do not try to describe what can be visualised. Compare these two pie charts, created using the same data. The aim is to highlight the sales on a Friday compared to the rest of the week:

Reduce cognitive load - chart example

The chart on the left requires the audience to work – they must refer to the legend to figure out what’s what whereas the chart on the right tells an instant story. The amount of “junk” on the chart has been minimized and the Saturday to Thursday information combined to emphasise the point being made.

The use of imagery

In terms of imagery, spatial contiguity proves that learning improves when words are placed near relevant pictures. In other words, using images or graphics to support your text prompts learning. Just make sure your choice of visuals supports your key message. Imagery should “connect the dots” for your audience, so that they can understand more quickly what you’re presenting to them.

As you put your PowerPoint presentation together keep in mind the limits of human working memory – in other words, work to reduce cognitive load. If you aim for simplicity your information will be remembered.

Contact us

For more information on how we can help you create memorable PowerPoint presentations please contact the Presented team.

Do you need to create 2 versions of a presentation? Or can Notes View save you…

Notes View is often ignored

We all know that PowerPoint slides should be more visual and less text heavy. It’s better for the audience, better for your speech delivery, and better for engagement levels. Plus you look better when they are nicely designed. But even if you create a beautiful, light and visual set of slides – you’re then often faced with the challenge that half your audience won’t be at the meeting and want to be sent a copy of your presentation. Or they do attend, but still request a copy to review or circulate afterwards. You know this from the start. And so you “have to” add more text here and there to explain your stuff. And perhaps a bit more text here just to avoid confusion, or there to make another point, or for the sake of clarity, then maybe you make one more point. Just to be safe. And unsurprisingly, you’re left with a presentation that is frankly a disaster to present. It’s simply become a document instead (or a “slideument”).

You know of course, that you should put your script in the Notes View area, but even if you do this – they are unformatted and look naff.

The 2 version solution isn’t great:

So the widely suggested solution is to create 2, yes two, versions of your presentation. One beautiful visual thing for presenting, and one less charming but very informative text version for printing or email distribution. But you will possibly be doubling your work load and making last minute edits twice: most likely the night before. That might be manageable (yet annoying), but all too often colleagues will also make edits or give feedback… and the number of versions around can get confusing and overwhelming. And when you reuse these presentations in the future – that’s where you really start to edit in double, or quadruple…

Why text heavy slides are so bad:

It really is important that you don’t present these text heavy slides. The more text the audience is reading – the less they are able to listen to what you’re saying. Your slides are jammed, look a bit naff – so are not a great way to represent your company. For everyone, reading is like listening to a voice inside your head reading out-loud. Out-loud inside your head that is, don’t worry: they can’t hear you. (It’s the talking to yourself you need to worry about). So when listening to themselves read, your audience will struggle to listen to you, the presenter. This shouldn’t be a newsflash – but millions of presentations created every day ignore this.

The not-so big reveal: The solution = create ONE version!

Right, so just use one version. Use a beautiful light visual deck that will reflect your value. However, also use the Notes Area in PowerPoint to add the extra detail. Wait though, there’s more: You can style the content within Notes View so that it looks professional and complements your slide design. This is not the same as just viewing the Notes Pane beneath the slide (see images below).

Visual slide with Notes Pane in use, shown in Normal View. These would be the slides you present.

Take a look around PowerPoint – there is a Notes Master as well as a Notes View: use both of these to create pages that will work well by sending via email as a PDF.

Choose to print the Notes Pages within your Print Options. You’ll see something like this:

Slide within Notes View – formatted, designed, extra detail added. Select “Print Notes Pages” and print to PDF in the Print Options.

…and send that PDF to those who weren’t at the meeting. One version is the best solution. Plus, this enhanced one version contains your script (i.e. the image on the left, which you can see when you present using “Presenter View”).

With your script there you don’t need to worry about having a mind blank mid-way through. And colleagues or teams could present these scripted versions too and help the whole company to stay on message…

(The minor downside of a PDF is that you’ll lose any cool animation – still, you could email over the PPT as well as the PDF. If you’re sure they will look at both…!)

If you think this Notes View solution will help you or your teams, please get in touch.
We can help get you started. Good luck out there!

Zoom in PowerPoint

There is more than one way to zoom in PowerPoint presentations. There are ways to highlight individual objects, summarise your slides onto one or create a canvas with different areas to navigate.

Basic zooming

The basic way to zoom in on specific objects is to apply the Grow/shrink emphasis animation. Select your object, go to the Animations tab and select Grow/Shrink from the Emphasis options. Go to Slide Show mode and you will see your object will now ‘grow’. In the Animation Pane you can edit the percentage size and timings to match your zooming needs.

In the example below I used the Morph transition (available in PowerPoint for Office 365, PowerPoint 2016 and PowerPoint Online) to create the illusion of a moving magnifying glass:

If you would like more information on how this was done, please do get in touch.

PowerPoint zoom features

PowerPoint has added some new zoom features, you could give these a go to add some interest to your presentation.

Try this! Open any PowerPoint presentation and go to Insert > Zoom > Summary Zoom, select all the slides and click Insert. You will see that this pulls all slides into one “summary slide” at the start of the deck and creates a separate section for each slide. Now play the presentation in Slide Show mode and click through – each slide zooms in and out in sequence, keeping any animations. To show selected slides only, choose Slide Zoom. To show a single section only, choose Section Zoom. Here’s a video showing this feature in action:

Really sophisticated zoom in PowerPoint

We often get asked if we “do Prezi”. We can, but we don’t. We prefer to use PowerPoint to the highest level to replicate the animation that appeals to Prezi users. And with PowerPoint getting constant updates its features really are going from strength to strength.

Our designer Ana recently threw this slide together to show off the Zoom navigation feature. Below is a video of Philippa talking through the animation. PowerPoint’s big canvas zoom feature:

This type of animation is great for meetings without an established agenda so you can click where the audience’s interests take you. This is really good for presenting to smaller audiences. The “big canvas” feel of zooming around one page can also help with communicating ideas that break down into lots of smaller parts: whilst still retaining the feel of the whole concept.

We love what PowerPoint can do, and we’d love to help you present better. Contact us so we can help you with your next presentation.

Digital signage and PowerPoint

What is digital signage? The broadest definition is digital signage consists of any size screen displaying any type of content for any reason. More specifically then, those screens that you have noticed popping up everywhere – at bus stops, on the Underground, in restaurants, offices and shopping centres – these are all examples of digital signage which is being utilised to share information with you, entertain you or (of course) sell things to you.

Digital signage for a lobby

Welcome to our office

Digital signage is becoming increasingly popular because it engages its audience more than traditional static signage which can only display one message at a time. It can contain an ever-changing mix of visually striking images and videos and has the capacity to be updated or refreshed in order to keep the content current and relevant – a good example of this being live weather or flight information. What is being displayed can change as often as the content creator would like.

Digitial signage flight map

London to Budapest flight map

The market is growing rapidly as it is now widely used by many industries. Perhaps the most effective and creative users tend to be retailers who use it in their shop window displays or to promote special offers. But, museums, stadiums, hotels, restaurants, schools, colleges, universities, local councils, hospitals, GP surgeries and corporate buildings are using digital signage too for staff communications and information for guests or visitors. Third generation digital signage is interactive digital signage – which allows end users to interact with digital content via touchscreens, body sensors or QR codes on smartphones and tablets.

Digital signage burger order

New burger order page

So, you’ve decided you want to create some signage of your own but don’t know where to start? A quick and easy way to create digital signage is… here’s the big reveal… drum roll please… using PowerPoint! You can do this on your own PC or, even better, let the Presented team create an amazing presentation for you.

We link up with our friends at Presentation Point for their amazing Add-In “Data Point”, which can link to any RSS feed, database, excel file – for live updates to your digital screens, all from PowerPoint.

For more information on how we can help you create impactful signage in PowerPoint please contact the Presented team.