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Presentation Design
Some Thoughts

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos

21 June 2017

This month’s Thought Leadership touches on a point near and dear to my heart: presentation design.

This Month's Thought Leadership

I really love a good presentation. I enjoy designing slideshows to pair with scripts. And it’s not just behind-the-scenes: I also adore getting up in front of others to share my thoughts and ideas. I can even appreciate watching other masters of the craft at work live, in webinars, on Youtube. There’s nothing more riveting than a great presention.

Less Is More

I’m not going to turn this into a dissertation on white space. I did that already. Nor am I going to explain the downsides of appearing so unprepared, and so unfamiliar with your message, that you need every word written for you on screen. I think that’s self-evident.

What I am going to do is share some of my thoughts on presentation design:

Prepare and Rehearse
Believe it or not, adequate preparation will not make you sound wooden. Rather, it’ll help you appear calm and confident. When you’re unprepared and unrehearsed, your body language will tell everybody how nervous you are. Get ready. Be ready.

Begin With the Script
You want to write. You want to say a LOT. We all do. Once you get our thoughts written down, take them and make a script. And from the script, highlight a couple of key points for each minute or two of speech.

Find Illustrations
If you can emphasize a point with a picture, that’s a win right there. An icon or a photo says much more than a line of text ever could. And it looks neater too.

Leave Behinds
Many people like to leave behind copies of their slideshows and use that as justification for polluting them with all kinds of junk. Don’t. PowerPoint, Keynote, Impress, and other tools all allow you to add your script to a hidden “Notes” section. Print this to leave behind.

Woman Falling Asleep During a Presentation

Final Thoughts

Slideshows are powerful tools, but they’re just a small part of the presentation. You’re the main part: your knowledge, your insights, your ability to tell stories, answer questions, and interact with your audience. Preparedness creates confidence and expresses competence, and it shows you respect your audience.

But if you stand there reading your slideshow like a bedtime story to a room full of grown-ups, you negate all of it and doom your presentation.

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos

About the Author

Jonathan D. Spiliotopoulos is a Partner with O’Brien Communications Group (www.obriencg.com), a business-to-business brand-management and marketing communication firm with responsibilities ranging from brand creation and creative concepting, to graphic design, web development, and more. He’s also an experienced teacher/trainer, presenter, a newbie dad, and is active in a number of communities and forums — online and in the real world — dedicated to helping others achieve their goals.

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