How to make accessible presentations for people with disabilities

Accessible presentations

The gov.uk website states that, “Accessibility means that people can do what they need to do in a similar amount of time and effort as someone that does not have a disability.” For PowerPoint presentations this means unlocking the content for everyone, including those with visual and hearing impairments.

PowerPoint presentations tend to be highly visual, and people who are blind or have poor vision can understand them more easily if you build your slides with accessibility in mind. For those with hearing difficulties this can be as simple as adding subtitles, but for visual impairments there is a longer checklist.

Real-time subtitle translation

Real-time subtitle translation comes with the most recent version of PowerPoint with Office 365. Go to the Slide Show ribbon to access Subtitle Settings. We can ensure that videos have closed captions set up. This is quick if the closed captions are ready to go, but takes much longer if we have to add the captions ourselves.

Screen readers

We can set PowerPoint presentations up so that they are optimised for screen readers. This means:

  • adding accurate alt-text on images;
  • putting content in the correct order* on the slides; and
  • using screen tips for hyperlinks.

*It’s worth looking at this point a little more closely. Text will be read out in the order in which it has been added to the slide, from the bottom to the top. To change the order, open the Selection Pane and drag the objects up and down in the list (this shouldn’t change how the slide looks unless you have overlapping objects):

Object order on a PowerPoint slide

Object order on a PowerPoint slide

Colour blindness

This is a little bit trickier, but there are online tools to check how presentations look to people with different types of colour blindness. The main thing is to ensure that there is sufficient contrast between the colours we use and that we are not relying on colours alone to tell the story.

Accessibility Checker

PowerPoint has its own built-in Accessibility Checker in the Review ribbon. If you have this running whilst you work you can review how accessible your presentation is as you go.

For a more detailed look at how to make accessible presentations follow this link.

The 10-20-30 rule for presentations

The ‘Power’ of PowerPoint

The 10-20-30 rule for presentations

The 10-20-30 rule for presentations

If you’ve had a desk job, you’ve probably used PowerPoint because it’s been the go-to package for presentations for YEARS. Quick question – how many of the presentations do you remember? Do you remember them because they were eye-wateringly good or a total snoozefest and ugly to boot? Chances are the majority of them were simply mediocre and unmemorable. So, it’s likely that you don’t remember much about them at all? It’s a shame really because PowerPoint is a great tool… in the right hands. So, what’s the formula for a great presentation? Guy Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule states that a presentation “should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.”

10-20-30

10 slides – think about your audience, ten slides is a digestible number and should be plenty for your key messages. If you need more you might want to reconsider what you are pitching and break it up into more bite-sized chunks.

20 minutes – if you have a presenting slot of one hour, you need to leave time for people to arrive late and leave early, as well as time for questions.

30 point font – presenters often try to put as much content as possible on their slides including the full script of the presentation! Because of this the font size is often so small that even those in the first row have to squint. As well as suffering from eye strain the audience cannot read and listen at the same time. So you have divided their attention between you and the slides. You should know your material inside out and only have key points on the slides. Your purpose is to talk through them in more detail.

Is the 10-20-30 rule still relevant more than 10 years later?

Well, for one thing, although still leading the pack PowerPoint is no longer the only presentation software in the game. Google Slides and Keynote are just two of the available alternatives. The way we present is also different. In the last 18 months or so with remote working becoming prevalent. With these things in mind, it’s interesting to examine whether or not Kawasaki’s rule is still a thing in 2021.

The state of 2021

We see a lot of presentations here at Presented and I can confirm that presenters are still stuffing all of the information into their decks. We advise on messaging to highlight key information and using infographics instead of reams of text, but the trend still seems to be more is more. AND we rarely work on decks with less than 30 slides, let alone 10!

Is it just me or does 20 minutes seem like a lot to ask of an audience nowadays? Thanks to the titanic rise of social media over the last decade, short videos (see TikTok with its three minute limit) have become standard. Audiences expect fast-paced content and for it to be both engaging and entertaining. In principle the rule still applies, keep it short, although for 2021 I’d revise 20 minutes down even further. Literally strim your presentation down to the barest of necessities.

Here’s a word for you – accessibility. We tend to think of it as relating to disability but here we should think of it as making our slides accessible to as many people as possible. So, use a nice large font if you are presenting in front of an audience. Go and sit at the back as a test. Can you read the words on the slide?  If not, pump it up, even if it means editing your wording down (especially if it means that, actually).

The 10-20-30 rule for presentations in 2021, yay or nay?

Weighing up the impact of how things have moved on in the last decade the rule still applies, with some slight tweaks. Short and snappy is key both in terms of the number of slides and the length of time you are talking. Size still matters, although for virtual presentations 30pts might be a bit excessive, so consider your method of delivery.

It’s just a guide folks, but if you are new to the presenting business you could do a lot worse than follow Kawasaki’s 10-20-30 rule for presentations. Or better still, contact us do it for you!

Using animation on PowerPoint Slide Masters

PowerPoint Animation

PowerPoint animation adds visual effects to your content (text, tables, shapes, charts etc). This brings your presentation to life, highlights key information and catches the attention of the audience. For some tips on how to add animation on text and objects click here. Most users know about animation in PowerPoint presentations. These animations range from subtle (such as fade) to more impactful/complex effects (eg motion paths). What users may not be aware of is that you can add animation on PowerPoint slide masters. This means that every time you use a master layout, the animation will be on the slide without having to repeat the copying of animation across slides.

How to use animation on PowerPoint Slide Masters

1. The first step is to access the Slide Master, so go to the View tab and select Slide Master. If you want to apply uniform animation to every slide, scroll to the top Master and apply the animation there. This is because the top master feeds through to all of the other layouts. Alternatively you can apply different animations to each layout.

2. Open the Animation Pane. Click on an object to select it and the apply the animation you want. The key with animation is to find a happy balance: too little and the presentation can be a little static, too much and you can befuddle your audience and leave them not knowing where to look.

When you are finished, go to the Slide Master Ribbon on the top left and click Close Master View to go back to editing the slides.

Look out!

There are a couple of pitfalls to be aware of. Once animation is added to a master it may seem that you can only remove it from the effected slides by taking it off the master(s). It will show in the Animation Pane with the word ‘Layout’ in front of it:

Layout labels from PowerPoint slide masters

Using animation on PowerPoint slide masters

However, there is a way you can edit the animation on the slide. If you right-click on the animation in the Animation Pane a little dialog box pops up:

Copy Effects to Slide to 'extract' it from the master

Editing animation on PowerPoint slide masters

Select Copy Effects to Slide and as a result the animation is now fully editable (if you select View Layout you can edit the animation for all slides which use the same layout).

And one more little thing, any additional animation you add on ‘top’ of the slide will only play after the master animation is finished.

Customise Theme Colours in PowerPoint to match your brand colours

How to Customise Theme Colours in PowerPoint

PowerPoint has default colours built-in to any new presentation or template. The bad news is that they aren’t great, but the good news is that you can change the colours to whatever you want. You can choose from a selection of alternative Office options:

List of Office colour themes

Office colour options

Alternatively, you can customise theme colours in PowerPoint to match your branding or a specific project or department.

First, make sure you have your brand colours to hand as RGB values. If you only have them in CMYK, you can convert them easily enough in InDesign or there are online conversion tools such as this one.

Customise Theme Colours in PowerPoint:

  1. Go to the Design tab
  2. Click on the down arrow in the Variants group
  3. Select Colors and click Customize Colors
  4. Edit custom colours to match your branding

Theme Colour dialog box

Create new Theme Colours

This allows you to change accent colour, hyperlink colour, and backgrounds for a look and feel that match your branding. The first of these colours will change the default font text colour and the second is for the default slide background. We find it’s best not to load colours into the first 4. Stick to text and background colours only.

The next 6 colours are Accents 1-6. These are important as they are used for charts, in order. Consider which colours you want to appear next to each other in a pie or bar chart, and load in as Accent 1-6 accordingly. These Accent colours also are used in the default table design options in PowerPoint (and Word/Excel).

Finally the hyperlink / followed hyperlink colour: it’s always a blue and dark magenta by default. So if you prefer something more in keeping with your branding then definitely specify different colours.

Adding additional colours with a VBA hack

For the more technical out there you can go one step further with this and add an additional row of custom colours to the palette. This involves editing the VBA of the PowerPoint file. It’s not simple, but you’ll find more information online, for example here.
We can do this for you of course, so get in touch if you need more than 6 accent colours in your PowerPoint template!

Advanced animation techniques in PowerPoint

The trick with animations in PowerPoint presentations is to get the balance right. Too little or too samey and the slides become boring and repetitive. Too much can slow down your delivery and dilute your message. Correctly used advanced animation techniques in PowerPoint can give your deck real zing and make it really entertaining and engaging.

PRO TIP: if you have a lot of objects then before adding advanced animation, open the Selection Pane to name your objects. This will help you to keep everything in order:

The Selection Pane - advanced animation techniques in PowerPoint

The Selection Pane in action

Which advanced animation techniques should you use, and how do you apply them?

It’s all sequential

Adding a sequence of different animations, from simple entry to more complex motion paths, can create some amazing effects without the need to click though. Open up the Animation Pane and use a judicial mix of On Click, With Previous or After Previous. The Delay function is also worth exploring.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Repeating an animation is a simple way to highlight a key piece of information. You might add a motion path to an arrow to repeatedly point to certain graphical elements, numbers etc. You can have objects moving in the background of a design to bring the design to life for the duration of the slide. To set any animation to repeat, go to the Animation Pane and apply an animation. Then you will need to right click on the animation and go into the options for Timing. There you can set how many times you want it to repeat or to set it to repeat continuously until the slide ends.

Gotta bounce

A hidden gem in the animation world is the “bounce”. It is a nifty effect that can be applied at the end of a motion path – instead of slowing to a halt, the animated object bounces a little. It may sound like nothing, and it is subtle but it can look very slick, especially when combined with Auto Reverse, which simply moves the object back to its starting point.

Feeling triggered

We love triggers here at Presented. But what is a trigger animation? To put it simply, you add an animation to one object and then add a trigger to a second object which activates the animation on the first. For example, you might have a number of textboxes you want to open and close in a particular order whilst staying on one slide, or you might create an interactive map and want to be able to highlight sectors separately. You need to create buttons and add triggers which open and close the textboxes or bring in the required data. Make sense? Perhaps a short video will help here:

Let’s talk about Morph

The Morph transition allows you to move from slide to slide with smooth animation, creating the illusion of movement. Try it! Add some objects to a slide, and put some off the artboard too. Duplicate the slide, add the Morph transition and drag the objects around, on and off the artboard. Now, go back to the first slide and play the Slide Show to see how the objects animate. Cool bananas? It looks like you’ve used advanced animation techniques, but you’ve simply selected a clever transition. There are lots of videos on YouTube about Morph, here is a good example.

More about advanced animation techniques in PowerPoint

For more examples of advanced animation techniques we have used in PowerPoint why not browse our interactive portfolio, here.

How to reduce PowerPoint file size

Introducing the Zip trick to reduce PowerPoint file sizes

PowerPoint files can be huge, and this can be a problem – for example if you are hoping to email the file some servers have size limits for attachments. There is a simple trick (thanks to Echo Swinford for the knowledge) using Zip to investigate what might be causing the problem. Let’s look at the process:

1. First, make a copy of the file

In File Explorer, select the PPT and Control-C, Control-V in the same folder.

2. Right-click on the copy and select Rename 

3. Add the extenstion “.zip” to the very end of the file name

Make sure to put the .zip after the existing file extension (.pptx) – do not replace it. The file now becomes a zipped folder. It’should read “filename.pptx.zip”

A zipped PowerPoint presentation in a folder

A zipped PowerPoint presentation

4. Now Unzip the folder to access the contents

5. Click the folder “ppt” > “media”

In the media folder you will see a list of all the image files in your presentation – jpegs, gifs, MP4s etc. Sort by Size or Compressed size, so you can see the largest easily.

Images in the Zip folder

Images in the Zip folder

6. Change view to large icons, or double click on the images, to identify them

Once you’ve identified which images are pushing up the MB count, go into your original presentation and reduce the file size for each image in PowerPoint. Select the image and in the Picture Format tab click on Compress Pictures.

Compress Picture dialog box

Options for image compression

Choose “Apply only to this picture” to keep a better control of image quality throughout. Of course you can choose to compress all the pictures but sometimes the PowerPoint compression tool can give a low quality result.

You can also delete the cropped areas of the pictures. The tool here gives a guide on recommended resolutions – we go for 150 ppi if a small file size is crucial.

Obviously you can also use PhotoShop to really keep control on image quality and size.

7. Resave your presentation and check the reduced file size

Spot the difference.

Zip to reduce file size

Hey presto my file is no longer massive

So that’s how you use Zip to reduce the file size in PowerPoint!

Now you can delete the Zip folder and you’re done!

For more advice on how to reduce file size in PowerPoint, there are plenty of How To videos on YouTube, like this one.