Designing “Ted” Type PowerPoint Presentations

     Wishing for a great opportunity as a presenter or speaker to boost your reputation to the next level and think a “TED” experience might just be your ticket? Unless you’re a celebrity speaker, we all need to remember that our skills as a speaker or presenter may not be the main criteria for selection.  Great delivery skills aren’t the key, but the topic and its structure must be cutting edge. If the presentation requires visuals and PowerPoint or Keynote are your technology of choice, the quality of the visuals must match the topic. Before you plan your first “TED” talk, it might be great to practice creating your visuals.

     “TED” presentations and PowerPoint’s are “Ballroom” presentations. With “TED” type visuals it’s about designing with emphasis placed on all visual graphics being aesthetically pleasing, simple to understand and help move the story forward. Let’s break down the components that need to be designed and address them individually.

• should match and support your talking point
• should echo the saying, “a picture should be worth a thousand words”
• the original source should be large enough for you to manipulate and still result in a small file size
• use impactful, full bleed photos rather than “postage stamp” sized images
• select images that are aesthetically pleasing to the senses
• use imagery that is interesting, new and fresh, not cliché
• the audience should understand the image / graphic / slide within the first eight seconds

• use a minimum palette of colors
• create a palette that is harmonious
• use the colors within your image as your source for text and accents
• incorporate the psychology behind your color choice
• use black to transparent gradient autoshapes behind text to help improve readability
• use color changes to guide the audience’s eye

• choose clean, simple, san-serifed font types
• don’t mix font types- stay in the same family
• select a font that has a variety of styles to select (normal, bold, italics, roman, etc.)
• have the font match the message
• keep text to a minimum and treat as a graphic
• should be able to be read by people in the back of the audience
• adjust the leading and kerning of your text
• adjust / vary font sizes to create impactful text

• create simple data visuals
• eliminate all “non essential” or distracting chart components
• explain the story behind the data

• should be purposeful
• use transitions sparingly
• should guide the audience’s eye

• keep videos to a minimum
• only use audios that are supporting your slide / message
• both videos and audios should be “clean” for understanding

     Now that we have our components, the next step is to think like designers and create our visual presentation. Layout is essential in the design process. If you need inspiration, look around you at magazine advertisements, television commercials and billboards. Inspiration is all around you. The best layout advice I can give comes from the world of photography and is referred to as the “Rule of Thirds”.

     Place elements of your image that are important on specific areas of your slide. These areas are called “power points” and will create balanced, aesthetically pleasing slides. You won’t create your ultimate “TED” style presentation the first time. It’s going to take practice, so now’s the time to start so you’ll be ready when the first opportunity to speak at a “TED” conference comes your way. Until next time…


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