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…


Choose the “RIGHT” Presentation type… Ballroom, Boardroom or Classroom

A Ballroom audience A Classroom Audience

     One of the biggest problems dealing with the success rates of presentations has to do with matching the audience with the correct presentation style. There really are different styles of presentations and most presenters tend to mismatch their presentation with the audience they are presenting to. According to Dr. Andrew Abela in his book Advanced Presentations by Design, matching audiences with the correct presentation type results from knowing the motivations of your audience. Most “ballroom” presentations consist of an audience whose motivation for attendance and attention is low and reading text on a slide even lower. These audiences need to have a presentation that is high energy, visual and interactive. The accompanying support technology (PowerPoint) needs to consist of high amounts of imagery and other “attention grabbing” elements such as videos, color and animation. If you ask a “ballroom” audience to watch a “boardroom” presentation, chances are you’ll lose your audience. Boardroom audiences have a higher motivation to “read” text on a PowerPoint slide; “ballroom” audiences won’t.

A Boardroom

     When you use text in a “boardroom” presentation, make sure you don’t “bullet point” your audience to death. Expert David Paradi recommends turning text (or bullet points) into visuals that will quicken understanding since audiences learn quicker through visuals than reading text. Use charts, graphs, tables and diagrams to create more “visual” slides. If you absolutely have to use large amounts of text in your slide presentation, expert Bruce Gabrielle recommends creating “selective reading blocks” in place of bullet pointed lists. Designing selective reading blocks allows for both quick scanning and deep reading. The final presentation type we’re dealing with involves “Classroom” presentations and they need to be a combination of ballroom and boardroom presentations based on the level of audience / class to whom you’re delivering a presentation. Prior demographic analysis of each “class” is essential for success of each presentation. Bottom line, if both you and your presentation are going to be successful, you have to know to what audience you’re presenting and what type of presentation you need to deliver.

     Until next time…