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September 2005

The "Godin Method" of presentation design

Seth_1I have seen a lot of marketing professionals over the years give some pretty awful presentations. But Seth Godin appears to be one marketing "guru" who has given serious thought to how to design appropriate messages and accompanying visuals. Seth gets it. Can we call seth's presentation approach the "Godin Method"? (See the "Kawasaki Method" and "Takahashi Method".)

In an interview with Cliff Atkinson, Seth shares some of his views on presentations/PowerPoint:

"As a public speaker, I see far more than my fair share of presentations. Worse, a lot of them are from people getting paid to give them - and they're horrible. Horribly produced, horribly ineffective."

Many professionals who give presentations are not actually selling a product, so does all this selling and pitching stuff really apply, say, to academics, researchers, or to the guys down the hall in the accounting department? This was a question asked in the Atkinson interview. Seth comments:

"It seems to me that if you're not wasting your time and mine, you're here to get me to change my mind, to do something different. And that, my friend, is selling. If you're not trying to persuade, why are you here?"

A good question. A question I ask myself many times while watching (enduring?) highly paid senior managers and executives present information...one slide after another (...and another).

Seth wrote an ebook not too long ago that was a #1 bestseller on Amazon for about a year. I think the price was about two bucks for the downloadable PDF file. The money went to charity. The short book is well worth two bucks, but now you can get it for free if you agree to buy Free Prize Inside (it's on the honor system). The digital version is not copy protected so you are allowed to share the file with others in hardcopy or digital form. Spread the word.

I found slides demonstrating the "Godin Method" of presentation from the Ideavirus page on sethgodin.com. These particular slides (random sample thumbs below) are now over five years old. Back in the summer of 2000 there were probably not too many people with visuals like these...or today for that matter. Take a look at the slides. They are not for everyone, of course, but just click through the deck of 60 slides with an open mind. Perhaps you'll get some ideas for the design of your presentation visuals for a future talk. What aspects do you like? What design details would you change to fit your situation?

Sample thumbs from the July, 2000 presentation by Seth Godin:

  Power     Evang

  Past     200

  Light     Mouse

  Drug    Pum     


One presenter's early attempt with the Takahashi Method

PresenterJim in Singapore once again has shared some timely insights, this time on the "Takahashi Method." Jim has a tremendous amount of experience presenting in many different locations and situations, so whenever he shares his experience, I'm "all ears."

I'm happy to share tidbits from Jim from time to time here. To protect Jim's confidentiality, I have removed references to the name or location of this particular meeting or the products (services) he sells. Please trust me that these are valuable and important products from a large, respected international firm. Here's what Jim shared with me.

"After your blog (on the "Takahashi Method) I just dove in and put one together. This was my fourth speech in three days. I easily sat through 30 PowerPoint's this week (Oh the troubles I've seen...!). I discussed four topics in my presentation:

(1) Personnel issues
(2) Commissions earned (buddy rich is the drum roll)
(3) Updates on developments in the market
(4) Initiatives for growth in the practice

My presentation was the first of 15 presentations given in a row. At the first break responses were a bit mixed about my not using charts or spread sheets, etc. until I pointed out they were in the notes view (which people could access later). By the end of the day people were begging for something they could at least read and the Takahashi method was held in much higher esteem. Interesting technique but I think using English and using Kanji differ greatly and if you are not writing in a picture-based language images are still very important and are a lot more effective generally than words."

I agree that the idea of using just large text alone may not have the same impact in English as in Japanese. This is for many reason (which I will explain in future), but one of the reasons certainly is indeed the nature of the Japanese written language which uses Kanji (borrowed from the Chinese) and two kana scripts. English text can be very visual, depending on how it is presented. But Kanji, simply by its ideographic nature, may be even more effective in simple, large forms than Roman letters. Still, using some slides with large text or just a few words can be very effective if mixed in with other, various forms of visual support.

Below are sample slides from Jim's presentation. These are just a few of the slides to give you a taste for his "Takahashi-Method" visual approach. Of course, without the speaker present, these visuals are essentially meaningless — the handout (or printed notes view from the PowerPoint) is what people can use later to recall content from the presentation and even read expanded detail.

    Topics_1    People

   Results     2900

  Buddy       5m

   Pd    Books

This particular visual approach used elements of the Takahashi Method along with high-quality, full-screen photographs, charts & graphs, and quotations. Obviously it was a way of using PowerPoint that is not "usual" in this particular industry (or any other industry for that matter), but in the end, it appears to have gotten the audience's attention, and was memorable in a sea of easily forgotten "typical PowerPoint" presentations.

Thanks very much to Jim for sharing his experience from the field.


The Kawasaki Method: an enlightened presentation approach

Guykawasaki2_1Following up on a recent post on Guy Kawasaki's highly touted presentation skills, let me point you below to an article featuring excerpts from a recent presentation by Guy which you may find interesting.

Remember that Guy's presentations almost always follow a "top-10" format — essentially ten slides and ten major ideas. That's it. Simple. Although it is not officially recognized as "a method" like the now mildly famous "Takahashi Method" in Japan, I will from now on refer to Guy's presentation style as "The Kawasaki Method." You may want to do the same. Who knows, maybe by naming it, an actual movement of sorts will develop across the planet. Guy's method — the "Kawasaki Method" — is not a panacea by any means or the perfect method for every presenter or every situation. It is one enlightened, simple method among others. No panaceas or "final answers" on presentation design or methods exist.

This article on the Always On Network features excerpts from a recent presentation by Guy for Autodesk's "Realize Your Ideas" tour. In the first part of this presentation,"Make Meaning," Guy shares his thoughts on public speaking and the genesis of the "top-10" format ("Kawasaki Method"):

"One of the things I learned about in the formative stages of my career was public speaking. I learned by watching lots of presentations, and one thing I figured out early on is that most CFO-level speakers — particularly CEOs, particularly male CEOs—really suck as speakers. They're boring; they're long; they wander around. I saw speech after speech, and I discovered that if there's anything worse than a speaker who sucks, it's a speaker who sucks and you have no idea how much longer he or she is going to suck. That's a horrible feeling.

To prevent you from getting that feeling, I've developed a Top 10 format. All of my speeches are in Top 10 format, because if you think I suck, I at least want you to be able to track my progress through the speech so that you know approximately know how much longer I'm going to suck."

                           — Guy Kawasaki

Read the rest of the presentation excerpts on the Always On site.


M.D. gives advice on presenting technical information

Doc_2"Ted," a medical doctor from the USA, contacted me recently to share his thoughts on giving technical presentations. Ted attends many presentations and presents quite a bit himself, usually on topics most people (people like me) would find very technical. His advice is refreshing to hear. Below are his thoughts on technical presentations:

"Always ask yourself how technical do you really need to be. If you’re a specialist speaking to generalists, do they really need all the details? This is particularly true when discussing your own research or work (where it’s easy to get carried away).

• Can you say: “The technical details are in the handout” (to be distributed after the talk) or “for those interested in the technical details, I’ll be in the lobby after the talk”?

• Can one complex slide be broken down into several simpler ones? Can you use simple graphics and complex descriptions?

• Most importantly: for a technical presentation the basics that you discuss in your presentation tips are really important: opening, informal tone, use a remote, work the room, using the blank screen feature, and, of course, Passion, Passion, Passion!!!

I once saw a great talk on the notoriously difficult subject of biostatistics in which the speaker started his talk by standing up in his sportcoat and tie and said “I don’t know about you, but I get pretty worked up talking about biostats so I’ve gotta get this coat off and get ready to rock.” It was funny but genuine and showed passion and informality right from the start. A nice move I’ve copied on occasion."

     — "Ted" M.D., USA

When we think of presentations by physicians, we may think of dark rooms, detailed slides, and a voice at the back of the room narrating in detail "the facts" before the audience. But I've heard from several medical doctors (practitioners and researchers) in the past few months, including here in Japan, who do not fit this stereotype and are giving thought to how they may present better, especially when they present their important work to non-technical audiences.


Train to Osaka: Finding inspiration in Japanese print ads

On_trainLike most people in Japan, I spend a lot of time riding trains. Trains here are clean, comfortable, and on time. The trains are also full of print advertising hanging and fixed to every conceivable space. This is not bad, however, as the print ads allow passengers something to read if they should tire of their magazines, books, or the audio files on their iPods. I enjoy scanning the print ads while I commute as this allows me the chance to keep abreast of new products and events, and also to study graphic design trends and observe the way graphics and print are used in the media.

For the most part, Japanese poster design — although usually very creative — is anything but simple or "zen." Busy, colorful, noisy, and intense seems to be the order of the day (these words also describe my first Japanese boss, but that's another story). So last year when I noticed the JT (Japan Tobacco) "Smokers' Style" campaign I was immediately impressed, delighted, and amused by the way the agency designed the JT posters. Depending where you are in the world, these green and white posters may not seem so special, but for me, given the clutter found in most posters and print ads, these poster where like a breath of fresh air (quite ironic given the nature of the campaign, I realize).

There are actually several different campaigns by JT. But two in particular stand out. One is called "The kind manners of Mr. Inhale" (called "Su-san" in Japanese). The "Mr. Inhale" campaign posters may be creative, cheeky, and colorful, but they also have less visual impact when compared to the clean simplicity of the posters from the "Smoking manners awareness" campaign ("Anata ga kitsugeba mana- ha kawaru" in Japanese).

  Mrinhale    Snow_face

Notice the difference in terms of impact and clarity between the two posters above. The one on the left is from the "Su-san" set. The poster on the right is from the "Smoking manners awareness" set.

I asked a local Japanese graphic designer I know, who works here with some of the largest firms in the world, what she thought about the JT posters from the stand point of effective visual communication. I asked her to compare the posters from the two different campaigns above. She much preferred the "Manners" posters for their clean, simple messaging. Here's what she said:

"It seems like they use different taste/artist for each campaign. The "Manners" campaign posters are indeed much simpler. It is one-color printing with green, the most eco-friendly color. The two simple colors, white and green, are a good choice for these messages. The "Manners" ads use a pictograph-like illustration. Pictograph is the ultimate form of universal design, and it is simple enough for anyone to understand: old or young, Japanese or non-Japanese. Also, there is so much clutter and noise in most print advertising that this very simple design actually stands out more. People see this on the street or in the train where it is filled with clutter. Also, it is a bit comic-like, so people like Japanese who grew up with comics are naturally drawn to it."

What struck me when I first saw the posters is how much they reminded me of the slides used in a PowerPoint presentation I once saw on the issue of environmental resource planning. The use of white space, simple colors, minimal use of text, and the consistent use of unique pictographs to illustrate systems, processes, and events really made for good visual support of a content-rich presentation to an international crowd. With some additional editing, I could imagine using visuals like these below for a presentation.

   Chart

   Love     Wider

EXERCISE: Take a look at the two sets of posters here and here. If they were PowerPoint visuals, how do they compare for simplicity, clarity, beauty, grace, impact, and overall visual support? Are there any principles or techniques in these examples that you can adapt to your presentation design project?  Perhaps a future project?

FYI
Here you can see links to the campaign's TV ads, links to all the posters used in the campaign, and a smoking manners screen saver (so if you want to give subtle hints to your coworker, this screen saver might do it). There is even a "manner poster maker" which allows you to type in your own text.

Download the "Manners Screen saver" here. The screen saver will circulate through several different posters. I guarantee no one else in your office will have this screen saver. Voice your smoking-etiquette evangelism! You can download the "Su-san" ("Mr. Inhale") screensaver too here.

See how manners are changing in Japan. Simple pie charts along with the graphical and written representation of the behavior in question.

See TV commercial promoting "smoking manners awareness" in QuickTime or RealPlayer.


Living large: "Takahashi Method" uses king-sized text as a visual

Ppt_4In the Japanese language Nikkei newspaper yesterday I stumbled upon an interesting article featuring stories on people who have started small grassroots movements — however unintentional — by doing something in a unique way. One such person is Mr. Masayoshi Takahashi who has gotten a lot of people interested in his unique way of presenting, now labeled the "Takahashi Method."

Takahashi uses only text in his slides. But not just any text — really big text. Huge text. Characters of impressive proportion which rarely number more than ten, usually fewer. The goal, he says, is to use short words rather than long, complicated words and phrases. Last year Takahashi gave a presentation at a conference using the method or style that he created. People were deeply impressed by his presentation — not the content, but his slides. Over the past year, blogs across Japan have been buzzing about Takahashi and his presentation style and people began calling it the "Takahashi Method."

Why this method?
About four years ago Takahashi had to give a 5-minute presentation at a conference. He wanted a way to get his message clear and powerful in such a short time and found that his method was excellent for having people understand and remember his presentation.

Takahashi is a computer programmer who did not have software like PowerPoint (the slide above says "I don't have PowerPoint"). He says he did not have access to photos or drawing programs either. So he was stuck with text. Still, he wanted to be different. He wanted to be effective. So he started thinking very hard about how to use the best word for each slide as he took the audience through his presentation. The words or phrases resemble Japanese newspaper headlines rather than sentences which must be read. His slides, though they are all text, are visual, visual in the sense that (if you read Japanese) they are instantly understood and support his talk. As he says, if you have bullets or sentences, the audience will read those and may miss what you are saying.

Is the method applicable?
I really like aspects of Takahashi's approach (in terms of slides). Takahashi says that the method is really designed for people who are not good at presentations and who are quite nervous about the idea of presenting. This method, then, is easy to do, helps the presenter get organized during planning and keeps the presenter on track while presenting. The method provides clear visual support for the audience and helps make the content more memorable. While it may not be a perfect method or applicable in all situations, it is still far better than the method used by most business people in Japan. Most slide presentations in Japan consists of boring reams of bulleted text (used later or simultaneously as "handouts") which many people can not read since the text on screen is too small (though that rarely keeps people from trying to read the slides anyway).

The slides used in my presentations are usually a mix of full-screen, high-quality photos, some charts/graphs, and slides with single words, short phrases, or short quotations. The idea of using very, very large type on screen is a good one. And though I think photos and graphics can be most effective, when we do use text on a slide, we would be well advised to keep it large and concise.

You can see all the slides here used by Takahashi in his recent presentation on "The Takahashi Method." The sample slides I feature below were taken from his presentation slides available on-line. In Photoshop I added a background screen to give the slides context.

  Method   Huge_text
(Left) "The Takahashi Method" title slide. (Right) "Huge characters" — He stresses using large letters on slides.

  Miyasui    History
(Left) "Easy to see." He states that small text is impossible for people in the back to see, so keep it "big." (Right) "History." Takahashi begins to talk about the background of his method.

  4_2    1_3
(Left) "Four" main points he'd like to discuss. (Right) The "first" point is....


Visual simplicity: Steve Jobs does it again

Earlier this week, some readers were asking me in emails for good examples of "simple yet effective" slides. Well, you can see some good examples — one man's examples — if you take some time to watch how Steve Jobs used slides to support his presentation in yesterday's special Apple event at San Francisco's Moscone West. Your own style and use of visuals will be different and unique to your own situation, of course. But I think we all can learn a lot by observing Jobs and being mindful of his natural interaction with the audience and his visuals as he tells "his story."

David Hornik over at VentureBlog also suggests you check out Steve Jobs' presentation to see a real "Master of the demo" at work.

Below I display some samples from Steve's presentation. You can watch the entire one-hour presentation in QuickTime on the Apple website.

  Picture4
Discussing the popularity (and dominance) of iTunes for the legal downloading of audio.

  Picture11_1
Talking about the growth of iPod popularity, highlighting cumulative sales from Q1 2004 to Q2 2005.

  Picture12
Latest quarter fades to darker green as "6.2M" also fades in as Steve states that over six million have been sold in just the last quarter alone. Green, by the way, is a good color choice for showing sales growth as green connotates many positives such as growth, safety, money, harmony, and so on.

  Picture13
But is sales of 6.2 million good or bad? How does that stack up? To give the number perspective, Steve compares the "6M" to another popular device, the SONY PSP which sold "2M" in the same time frame.

  Picture25
iPod market share.

  Picture21
Here Steve is talking about the automotive category of iPod accessories and the fact that more and more automotive companies are featuring iPod connectivity in their cars. (Where are the bullet points?)

  Picture16
Steve continuing his talk on automotive accessories. Note that the slide would be meaningless with out the narration. This "zen approach" makes the slide very effective.

  Picture18
To stress the diminutive size of the new iPod Nano, Steve first teases the audience: "Did you ever wonder what this pocket is for?" he says, pointing to the mysterious "fifth pocket" found just above the right pocket in most jeans. "I've always wondered that...well now we know..." And with that Steve pulls out the iPod Nano to the delight (and gasps) of the audience.

  Picture19
A good solution to the problem of showing such a small product to a very large room: Turn your projector into a large TV screen. This is something you can actually do with any video camera and most projectors.


Guy Kawasaki: Presenter extraordinaire

Guykawasaki3_3You have heard me praise the presentation skills of Steve Jobs many times before. He's the high priest of presentations. But there is another master communicator with a strong Apple history known for his engaging and charismatic presentations: Guy Kawasaki. Guy is a Silicon Valley legend of sorts. He first gained fame over twenty years ago as a tech evangelist for Apple, "leading the charge against world-wide domination by IBM." Currently Guy is Managing Director of Garage Technology Ventures and the author of many popular business books including his latest, The Art of the Start. He is a sought-after speaker because he brings the rare combination of experience, great content, and a wonderful engaging style.

Presentation advice from the frontlines
I recommend you buy Art of the Start for two reasons: (1) because it is a relevant, useful book for any business person, especially entrepreneurs or future entrepreneurs, and (2) because Guy devotes an entire chapter to the "Art of the Pitch" which contains solid tips and advice for making effective presentations to people who can help or invest in your ideas. And when you think about it, most presentations are pitches, are they not? Most presentations are (or should be) about selling your idea to get buy in, agreement, financial support, research funding, and so on. Great content is necessary, but it is not going to sell itself. Not usually. We've got to pitch or sell our data and ideas to be effective. So Guy's tips on "pitching" are applicable to most business or technical presentations.

Allow me here to highlight just one idea (among many) from Guy's chapter on pitching. "Pitch constantly," Guy says. Forget about the idea of "rising to the occasion" on the presentation day. If you shuffle badly through practice and give it a half-hearted effort in preparation, you will surely be lousy on the day of the presentation. The best musicians and athletes, for example, perform in practice just like they do during the actual concert or event. There are no shortcuts. Says Guy:

"Familiarity breeds content. It's when you are actually familiar and comfortable with your pitch that you'll be able to give it most effectively. There are no shortcuts to achieving familiarity — you simply have to pitch a lot of times.

"Twenty-five times is what it takes for most people to reach this point. All these pitches don't have to be to your intended audiences — your co-founders, employees, relatives, friends, and even your dog are fine auditors."

Slide simplicity
Sample_slideGuy takes a very "zen approach" to his presentations and the supporting PowerPoint. His talks usually evolve around ten key points, no matter the topic. His visuals, then, will consist of ten slides each with one key message spelled out. That's it. Simple. The visuals keep Guy on track and help him tell his story and give a strong feeling of organization to the tone of the talk. Guy kindly agreed to do a couple of presentations for me while I was at Apple. His 10-points/10-slides approach was very effective and allowed the audience to focus on his words, his face, and his personality...this made his content far more accessible. You can download slides from Guy's keynote presentation for the WOMMA 2005. In this presentation his visuals follow the 10-point/10-slides guide (though he includes an eleventh, "be a mensch" for good measure).

Brendon Wilson has posted transcripts of "The Art of Positioning & Presentation" talk from the Art of the Start Conference. Scroll to the middle to find the section on presenting.You can download the audio files from Guy's presentations (and others too) from the 2005 Art Of the Start Conference.

Business Training Direct has a good article featuring Guy's ideas on presentation simplicity. Cliff Atkinson also has a good, short interview with Guy worth reading. And here in an interview with Technation, Guy talks about "The Art of the Start" and many other things as well.

Mensch extraordinaire
Garrguy_2Guy talks often about being a Mensch — and from what I've seen he backs it up. When I first met Guy in his office at Garage in 2001, before I ever had a chance to ask if he'd like to present at one of our future Macworld events, he volunteered. He then accepted several other opportunities to give of his time to user groups. Guy can make a lot of money by public speaking, no doubt. But he also "gives it away" quite often. Now that's a Mensch.


What is good Presentation design?

Garr_tedxtokyoOccasionally, I'm asked by colleagues or clients to send samples of "great slides" or "good PowerPoint." I usually hesitate to send examples of slides since my answer to the question, "what does a great PowerPoint slide look like?" is "...it depends." In a world which often thinks in terms of absolutes — this is good, that is bad — "it depends" is not the most popular answer.

Context matters
However, as far as design is concerned, it is useful not to think (judge) in terms of right or wrong, but rather in terms of what is appropriate or inappropriate. That is, is it appropriate or inappropriate for a particular context? "Good" and "Bad" are indeed terms we use when talking about design — including PowerPoint/Keynote slides — but I'm personally cautious of this kind of thinking, especially when judging a design without its full context available. So much depends on how the visual is placed within the context of the presentation, and the content and objectives of that particular presentation are of paramount concern. Without a good knowledge of the place and circumstance, and the content and context of a presentation, it is impossible to say this is "appropriate" and that is "inappropriate."

Simple but not simplistic
If there is one important precept worth following, it is the idea of simplicity. The best visuals are often ones designed with an eye toward simplicity. Yet, this says nothing about the specifics of a visual presentation. That will depend on the content and context. For example, even the best visuals used in support of a presentation for one audience on, say, quantum mechanics, may appear complicated and confusing to a different audience.

Simplicity is often used as a means to greater clarity. However, simplicity can also be viewed as a consequence. A consequence, that is, of our careful efforts to craft a story and create supporting visuals that focus on our audience's needs in a clear and meaningful way. Ok, simplicity is great you say, but how simple? What is the formula for simplicity? If you can't give me concrete examples, you might say, at least give me a formula for making powerful, simple visuals. But do static formulas for achieving simplicity exist?

Presentationzen.002
(Click for larger view of this slide)

In Living Zen, author Robert Linsen (in speaking on the simplification of needs in everyday life) says that a "simplification of existence" is a consequence of an "effective experience of Zen." In other words, as one discovers their true nature, "needs" such as possessions or status are reduced or seen for what they are: superfluous. This raises the question then: "What are the minimum or maximum needs for an individual?" To this the author responds

"No one can define them or draw up a system around them. That is where we should exercise our judgment....Use depends for each one of us on the place and circumstances. If we were to codify the laws concerning it they might soon become a great bondage for us."

Here the author is not necessarily speaking of design and presentation visuals, of course, but we can see how we can apply Zen principles to everyday life including design, even the design of slides and other visuals. Simplicity is an important design principle. But simplicity in design is as much art (small "a") as science. It is, therefore, quite difficult to offer up prescriptions or "rules" for appropriate design. Without full knowledge of the context and circumstances, such rules could become "a great bondage," so to speak, leading to inappropriate design choices or recommendations.

Visual makeover
Having said all of that, below are a few slides demonstrating different visual treatments in support of a single message. The context is a presentation on gender and labor issues in Japan. The purpose of the slide is to visually support the claim that "72% of the part-time workers in Japan are women." This statistic is from the Japanese Ministry of Labor. The figure "72%" is something the presenter said she wanted the audience to remember as it is discussed again as the presentation progresses. So how to design a slide that is subtle, simple, memorable, and fits into a theme that is appealing and attractive?

  Original_72    Ppt_chart

BEFORE. Above (left) is the original slide. The problem with the slide on the left is that the clip-art used does not reinforce the statistic, nor does it even fit the theme of women in the Japanese labor market. The background is a tired, overused PowerPoint template. The text is difficult to read. And as one trainee commented: "it's ugly."

The slide on the right (above) was an effort to display the same information in a pie chart. Besides using an overused template, the visual displays the pie chart in a distorted and inelegant fashion. For the sake of clarity, it is usually best to avoid 3-D effects. Also, rather than giving the slide a title, a declarative sentence that states the point directly may be more appropriate.

  Woman_text    Woman_fig

AFTER: All the slides were redesigned to match the theme above. The slide on the left was the one used for the presentations. But the one on the right could also be used effectively. Notice that either slide (especially the slide without any text) would be virtually meaningless without the presenter's narration. The handout that followed the presentation expanded on the relevance of the statistic and gave it context. The five-page handout proved to be a good reference for those who attended the presentation and for those who did not.

  Pie_new    Woman_alt                     
Using a pie chart is also a good way to represent this simple statistic. Here (left) the large text at the top can be easily seen. The text reads more like a headline — a declarative sentence — rather than just a title or category. The slide on the right is another possible way to support the message. In this case a completely different template was used.

More Before & After Slides
Here are a few more for you to consider. The slides here have an aspect ratio of 4:3, which works well for comparing side by side on a website, but for most conferences and other speaking venues, 16:9 will increasingly be the norm and it does indeed offer a more cinematic experience. The principles here include making the elements of a slide large enough to be seen from the back of the room. We may not need much text on a slide (text discussions are for the handouts), but any text on the screen must be able to be read quickly no matter where someone is sitting in the audience. (Click slides for larger view.)

Before                                                      After
(3) Design.232   (3) Design.235
Before                                                      After
(3) Design.236   (3) Design.237
Before                                                      After
(3) Design.238   (3) Design.239
Before                                                      After
(3) Design.240   (3) Design.241
Before                                                      After
(3) Design.135   (3) Design.136
Before                                                      After
(3) Design.242   Data-chart
Before                                                      After
(3) Design.067  Data-chart2

From sketches to visual slides
In Presentation Zen 2nd Edition I outline an analog approach to preparing your digital presentation visuals. Near the end of the process is when we really start thinking about what visuals we'll want to use. This is the time when I start making very rough sketches of how I want the slides to look. I use sticky notes in my own sketchbook. Below is a sample of just eight slides from a much larger set. (Click images for larger view.)

Sketchbook    8_slides_order

Should you design your slides to look like this?
The design choices are many. The examples above are just a few attempts at improving the look & feel, impact, and effectiveness of the original slides. Should you design your slides to look like this? That's your call and depends on your specific circumstance. Also, the particular examples above do not deal with technical presentations. If your presentation is on a less technical topic such as leadership, HRM, marketing, etc. then simple slides like these can be very effective. If you are giving a very technical presentation to a technical audience hungry for data, then your slides may look quite different. But even for a very technical presentation, embracing simplicity of design and striving for the greatest clarity possible must still be the objective. How you do that will depend on a great many things.

Related books by the author
Presentation Zen (2nd Edition)
Presentation Zen Design (2nd Edition)
The Naked Presenter
The Presentation Zen Bento Box (with video and sketchbook)