Your Questions: How can I make my visuals more appealing?

It seems every time we present, we use slides. You've seen the crowded, cluttered slides that make the audience groan and the speaker read them verbatim. Let's take a fresh look and explore some ways to make slides more attractive and more impactful. Take a look at your most recent slide deck and apply these guidelines.  

  1. More is less. Search out any unnecessary words, paragraphs, diagrams or other elements you can live without, and hit the delete button. 
  2. Be comfortable with white space. Visually, if the slide is too “full” no one will want to read it. Use more slides if needed, or fewer elements on slides.
  3. Remove unnecessary bullets. You don’t need to bullet everything. You can use bolding of key words or paragraph markers, especially when you have three or fewer items.
  4. Remove punctuation. If you are using bullets, most of the time you can simply leave the punctuation off.
  5. Remove boxes. Many times we place boxes around headlines, bumper stickers, and other elements for no good reason. Skip them unless you really need to use them for clarity. If you need to highlight an element with a box, consider a softly colored one without edges.   
  6. Don't use all caps. Sometimes people use all caps on headlines or to highlight key words. This is unattractive and generally unnecessary.
  7. Don’t underline words. Highlight important information with italicizing or bolding instead. Save underlining for links.  
  8. Vary headlines. Don't use the same headline on each visual throughout your presentation. Instead, use those headlines to tell your story. Make sure each headline means something. 
  9. Skip the templates. Avoid dark backgrounds and templates in general unless corporate mandates. Your dark text on a white background is generally crisp and clear, and easy to see even when the room is bright.
  10. Avoid decoration. Clip art, WordArt, fancy effects and transitions. Unless you are very skilled at making them an integral part of the design, just keep it simple and leave these out.  One exception: Smart Art is a way to quickly convert text into an attractive visual layout. 

Consider looking at your slides with fresh eyes. Or go talk with someone who has attractive, appealing slides and ask them how they do it. Since we are going to use slides, let's be sure they appeal to the eye and add value.