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Designing Presentation Slides

posted Jul 18, 2011, 1:42 PM by Eddie Woo
Presentations are a big part of my life. Just yesterday I spent almost three hours giving some as part of school development day (yes, while you students are enjoying an extra day of holidays, we're actually working!). Not just that though, presentations are an especially significant part of IPT. Students studying IPT have to give a variety of presentations throughout the course. Maybe because you're so used to giving them, many of the presentations are fantastic - informative, clear and well-delivered. But they all share an almost universal weakness.

When they use a slideshow to help, the slides are awful.

I mean it. They take time to design, and they don't really aid the presentation much at all. In the worst cases, the slides are the presentation - so that the audience ends up doing exactly the same thing as the "presenter", which is reading large gobs of text off a screen. The only difference is that the presenter is doing it out loud. It's not very engaging, and ultimately it's a poor way to convey data - if I have to read text, I at least want to read it at my own pace rather than be forced to keep up with the speed of someone else's speech and be unable to dwell on things that I'm actually interested in!

It's not all your fault, though. I admit that I am not a master at designing slides (which is why I hardly do, and always use simple ones when necessary), and I don't think I've ever explicitly taught anyone how to design good slides. The principles have all been stuck up in my head and I'm not sure I've done a good job at expressing them very much. Which is why I was so happy when I found the presentation embedded below, which explains how to - as the title says - make awesome diagrams for your slides.

Diagrams are not the only things included in slides, but they are probably one of the most helpful. And this guy, Enrique Garcia Cota, really knows how to design them well. The presentation is quite long (57 slides), but I reckon every one is valuable. Take the time to go through the whole thing and refer back to it the next time you design a presentation - I know I will.