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August 04, 2009

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Saleem

Cool post. Just a thought on the top-right example slide (with the idea of the fade-in line chart over the tilted picture): It seems like slanting a line chart might make it hard to read the angle or distort the trend a bit.

garr

Hi Saleem. You point is a good one. I'm just experimenting here. Still, the data is very, very simple and the point (if I ever did something like this, which I have not) is just to show the trend as I talk about the declining birth rate. Thanks for your comment! -g

Peter

Few ways to do it right, countless ways to screw it up. :)

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."

susan

Love that first image - thanks for sharing it with us Garr!

Jesse

Splendid. This is clear, descriptive and something that many of us need to get it right. Using photos in pitch slides requires skills. Using photos in scientific slides or presentations is another thing. Small discussion on usage of photo slides would have been great.

Thank you Garr Reynolds for this clarification.

Florian

Not exactly another way to use image poorly...
When you use a full-slide visual, I prefer it when that visual doesn't match EXACTLY the idea covered by the speaker for that slide.
I prefer when there's a little gap or when the connection is not totally obvious.
The viewer will indeed wonder about the connection when first seeing the slide. Then, using the input of the presenter, we will actually create a personal-based meaning. By recreating this thinking process, I think understanding and long-term memorization is improved.

And if the visual can be thought-provoking or even frightening (Like the slide about blogging and sharks with the visual of a threatening shark in your PZ book), all the better.

jlbraaten

Good stuff here. I especially liked the advice about going full bleed or not. There's no "close to full bleed" that's acceptable. Noted and thanks.

AJ Kandy

Unless you use white backgrounds exclusively, inserting a piece of web clip art with a white background just looks unprofessional and cheap. Keynote and the latest version of PowerPoint both natively support transparent alpha channels in PNG and TIF images. It looks much nicer to have an image that's close-cut with antialiased edges, and you can get lots of graphics in this format from stock libraries. The best option is still EPS artwork which remains scalable - right now only Keynote supports that natively.

James Wood

Great points here. I have, unfortunately done these myself in the past.

Just a tip to avoid distortion (6&7) when using PowerPoint one can hold down the SHIFT key while resizing and it will maintain the aspect ratio of the original.

@Florian:

I agree with you, if the presentation is completely understandable without the speaker, then the speaker becomes superfluous. However, if the speaker cannot be understood without the presentation, then the presentation is carrying too much of the load of communication. Visuals should add and support the the spoken word, not replace it.

Presentations Training

Thanks so much for this article. As much as an artist I try to be when I design my presentation, I actually wonder sometimes whether I my creativity is an eyesore. Bravo Brava! Thanks for this!

Jill Cadarette

If your image can't become a full bleed without distortion and you can't crop it to fit, make your background black. It will appear as though the image is full bleed because the background won't show at all when presenting.

Florian

@James Wood :
Actually, I think I didn't express myself clearly. The speaker MUST be understood even without presentation to back up the context.

But having a visual that will support (and not paraphrase exactly what the speaker says) is much better since (to me), it triggers a thinking process and builts an unconscious association in the viewer's mind. Hence reinforcing understanding and memorization.

What is optimal to me is to still leave the viewer with some thinking of his own left to do when both seeing hte visual and listening to the speaker.
It should be very small thinking, almost obvious, but inducing that little effort will be worthwhile I think. Again, I may be wrong...

Spencer

@Jesse re photos in scientific presentations:

Digital cameras have been a huge benefit to those of us doing field-based science. A good photo of the process, phenomena, or study location helps communication immensely. My presentations alternate between full-bleed (or cropped) photos taken by myself and colleagues and simplified plots or tables.

As mentioned in comments above, I use a black background. I can crop images--landscapes look really good in a 16:9 format--and use the area outside the image to display annotations or numerical values.

sureshkv

Let me add one more dont and that is ´research your image well before using it!!´ and here is why.

I once made a major faux pas using an image. In my closing thank you slide (do we even need thank you slides?) to a french automobile company, I put the watermark image of a formula 1 champion driver (belonging to my client´s formula team) with the words Merci Beaucoup (Thank You in french) appearing slowly typewriter style. I was hoping there would be little chuckles or a joke or at least a general lightening of the mood at the end of the presentation. Instead, our client turned around and said, ´but he (referring to the driver I still had on the screen behind me) left us months ago!´ and I felt like someone just punched me hard.

tara

Vintage Garr Reynolds...Thanks Garr-loved the post
Tara

Robert Rawlins

It's funny how when reading this it seems like you're stating the obvious but I remember back to when I was working for a training and development company and the tutors would often generate their own presentations and they were almost blind to these rules.

Michelle

What size file do recommend purchasing (from istockphoto, for example) for best results on full screen powerpoint slides?

PS: I love your website and the great tips you give on Twitter!

Regina

My pet peeve is when the text color does not have high enough contrast with the image colors. Or is just not an attractive combination. I've also seen slides where the text runs right over an important part of the picture, for example, the lone subject's face.

Thanks for a great post!

Felix

Garr,

As a former KG student of Spring 2008, I was very surprised to hear that you teach there!

I've went through your book initially and had a thought, incidentally you raised it again.

In one passage of your post you said something about transparency boxes to help your text pop stand out more in contrast with the salient background. You also mentioned there are other ways to do this. What is the principle behind it? From what I gathered in your book and other books, it seems like there's the transparent box, the masking tape/note, or the paper clip to hold the text. Could you elaborate a bit more on the background box?

This is a great post.

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