Slides have come a long way

It wasn't too long ago that slide presentations were delivered using a carousel and film mounted in 35mm slides. In the late 90's laptops and projectors started fulfilling this role and slides became a thing of the past. The electronic era began and in no time we went from physical printed products to electronic data sharing.

PowerPoint has become the standard for delivering presentations and is a competent slide manager.   When used to support the presentation, rather than becoming a substitute for it, the program is effective.  PowerPoint was created in 1984 and originally named "Presenter." It was later acquired by Microsoft and became part of the Office bundle.  

Visually slides have changed dramatically.   Blue blended background with yellow titles and white text has been replaced with fancy graphics and bright color palettes.  Blue is still a predominant color in business presentations and appears to be the color of choice for most, however, templates and graphics and dramatically improved.

Regardless of how good or bad a presentation looks ultimately it is the content that is most important and learning how to pare down the information to design a slide that looks more like a billboard is an art.  Slides should support the speaker by reinforcing the message with graphics and elements that are easy to see and understand.

A few basic graphics that can be found in most investor presentations include:

Competitive Matrix

Milestone or Timeline

Market Opportunity

Basic Presentation Knowledge

I have seen it all!  Literally, I have seen thousands of presentations: great, good, bad and just plain awful.

Presentation visuals are meant to support the speaker and should reinforce the verbal message. This means if the visual has text the audience is reading your slide instead of listening to you deliver your message. Text should be broken down into small sound bites using bullets to organize these important points and help guide the speaker through the items that need to be covered on that particular slide. By reinforcing key data with bold, larger fonts and color you can make the information stand out.

My list of the top five things to enhance your presentation is:

1.  Use the master template

The master allows you to organize data that will appear on all of the slides into one template.   This format master keeps the logo from shifting and the titles from jumping up and down.  As an audience member, we want to see consistency.   Set up your master once and use it on every slide.

2. Select colors that work when projected

Select your colors wisely it can mean positive or negative things, red infers trouble or losing money and green usually means good! A well-defined color palette for your slides is key.  Use a primary color for titles and bullets.  Black is best on a light colored background, and white or yellow on a dark colored background.  Using color for the content in your presentation can make it difficult to read and red on a blue background the most troubling.  

3. Fonts

San serif fonts work best in a projected presentation.  The delicate script and serif elements of other fonts are lost on the big screen.  Some examples of the best fonts for clear, concise presentations are Arial, Geneva, Helvetica, or Verdana.

4. Visuals

Use visuals to support your message.  A picture is worth a thousand words but be sure it is relevant to what you are talking about.  Graphics enhance a point when they are used properly.   Simplify the data as much as possible to get your message across with immediately.

5. Animation

Use sparingly!  Animation is good when you are conveying a message with multiple points or in steps.   You can set it to auto automate, allowing the speaker to focus on the content and the computer to animate the visuals.  My favorite animation is: swipe left to right.  Simple and effective!