3 secrets that make your slides look modern for 2017

35mm-slideWhat does the term “modern-looking presentation” mean to you? If you asked a group of people that question, I’m sure you’d get a wide range of answers. But I’m also sure there’d be some common themes that most people would mention.

To me, there are 3 essential tips that make your slides look like they belong in 2017 – rather than back in the 20th century! In fact those 3 tips make your talk not just look modern but also feel that way to your audience.

In outline, those 3 top tips are:
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Slide makeover: 5 steps to replace boring bullets with audience awe

During your professional life, you’ve no doubt seen more slides with bullet lists on them than any other type of slide. The problem is, so have your audiences, too.

You can’t inspire a disengaged audience…

Because audiences see wordy bullet lists a lot, they’re disengaged by them instantly. And, despite your best efforts, you can’t inspire a disengaged audience to act on what you say!

So how can you use fewer bullet lists? Let’s work through an example to see what you could do instead, using this bullet-filled slide as a starting point:

original bullet-point slide

This is what the slide will look like when you finish the makeover:

bullet-point slide makeover - labels

And here are the 5 steps you can use to complete that overhaul:
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Dump text from your slides! Here’s how – without forgetting what to say (or skipping key details)

Shredded PaperHow many of your slides serve double duty? Let’s look at an example of what I mean

Suppose you have a slide with several contact numbers and email addresses on it, like the one shown below:
contact details slide

Slides like that serve double duty because they’re both:

  • Part of your slideshow during your talk
  • Used for reference afterwards, because people won’t remember all the details

My question is, if people won’t remember what a slide says, why show it during your presentation at all? That needlessly burdens your audience, who don’t know what you expect them to remember (or what details you might give them a copy of).

By all means, include details like that in a handout for people to refer to later. But don’t overwhelm your audience with details during your talk.

Many presenters give their audience a copy of their slides to look at afterwards – in effect using their deck as their handout. But unless you’re careful, using your slide deck as your handout has 2 big problems:
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What’s the best font for your PowerPoint slides? (A cautionary tale!) [Video]

danger thin ice - warning sign by a lakeDo you ever wonder which is the best font to use on your slides? If so, I’ve a simple answer for you:

Pick a font your
audience won’t notice.

(That is, unless you happen to be presenting to “arty types” – like graphic designers. In that case, pick a font your audience approves of. More on that shortly.)
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Simple, realistic backgrounds for cutout photos in Storyline or PowerPoint – [Video]

If you use Articulate Storyline, you may well have used photographic characters, which let you insert a headshot or other cut-out photo of a person:
Articulate Storyline character

Even if you use PowerPoint, you might’ve inserted a very similar portrait photo with no background, as they’re available from many suppliers (like Elearning Art, Elearning Brothers, and Articulate Global itself).

This 2½-minute video shows you a quick, built-in way to give a photo like that a realistic background, so it looks like it was taken in an office.

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Slide makeover: Take your introductory slide… [Part 2: Video]

In a recent post, I suggested changes you might make to this “before” slide, to make it look more professional:
weekly visitors6

That slide ended up looking like one of these “after” options:
weekly visitors8weekly visitorsA

But in that recent post, I didn’t show you how to make those changes. So that’s where this post comes in – the steps are in this 3-minute video:
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Slide makeover: Take your introductory slide from everyday to excellent [Part 1]

Do you use a slide that introduces you as a speaker? (That is, with your name, contact details such as your company logo or Twitter handle, and often your photo on it.)

There are certainly good reasons to use that sort of slide:

  • When you’re presenting online, if people can’t see you, having a slide with your photo on it helps people engage with you and your message.
  • Even in a big in-person venue (with no video feed showing your face), putting your photo on a slide not only helps people engage, it also helps them approach you after you’ve left the stage.

I’m betting that if you do use that sort of slide, it looks a bit like the typical example below. (If it looks quite different, I’d love to hear from you in the comment box below or via @RemotePoss on Twitter.)

weekly visitors6If your speaker slide does look like that, this post and a later one will help you make it look far better:

  • In this post, you’ll see the changes that could make your slide look much more professionally designed, so you leave the best impression on your audience.
  • In a later post, you’ll find video tips that step you through making those improvements in PowerPoint.

You might be thinking:

“What’s so awful about that slide?”

And if you are, you’re right – it’s not so bad. Yet it could be a lot better.

Let me show you what I mean, and then you be the judge. (Or, try out some of the tips in this post, and then let your audiences’ feedback be the judge!)

You’ll find the following topics covered in this post:

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Spotlight part of a picture with PowerPoint’s slide-background-fill [Video, part 2]

Do you want to highlight part of a photo or screenshot (or other picture) as though you’ve shone a spotlight on it? In this post, you’ll see just how to do that, with the 2nd in a short series of videos on using PowerPoint’s slide background fill option.

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Rotate meter needles in Articulate Storyline (or PowerPoint) – via David Anderson @elearning [Video to watch]

Easily rotate an object around any point

If you use either Articulate Storyline or PowerPoint, you might find this video handy. It shows you how to easily rotate an object around any point, not just its centre. So you could find this tip useful if your slides have things like meter needles, clock hands, or levers on them.

You can use the tip either to:

  • Control the angle of objects when you place them on your slide.
  • Animate objects to spin around a chosen point when people view the slide.

I was inspired to make the video after watching fab tutorials by David Anderson of Articulate. In his 9 videos (totalling 45 minutes), you’ll see all the details you need to show quiz results on a dial.

The 5th video in David’s series fascinated me

I’m new to Storyline, having developed just one course with it so far, and am learning how its states feature works. So the 5th video in David’s series fascinated me, because it uses states to show the learner’s score.

It can be tricky to place the meter needle at a certain angle though, because when you rotate any object, by default Storyline and PowerPoint rotate it around its centre. So then you have to put the needle’s end back to where you want it, which can be quite fiddly.

Using the tip in the 7-minute video below, the meter rotates around its end, so you don’t have to struggle to put it back.

(If you’d like to make the video bigger, you can click the Full screen symbol below the right end of the video’s timeline.)


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Using PowerPoint’s slide-background-fill to “cloak” objects [Video, part 1]

Make your slides look like you used Flash

Want to make your humble slides look like you used Flash, Photoshop, or another fancy (and pricey!) Adobe tool – when you only used PowerPoint? Well here are some videos to help you do just that.

In 2013, the Duarte blog featured an animation of objects emerging from behind a line, as though rising over the horizon. And in a great 12-minute video tutorial, last month Nick Smith of AdvanceYourSlides.com showed how you can use that same effect on your own slides.

To extend Nick’s method, the 4-minute video below shows how you can reuse the effect on any slide, without having to customise it each time:

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