When text is a good thing in a presentation

(Since some have asked: yes, commenting on this post counts for your weekly quota.)

I’m always advocating for minimal text on slides, which really comes down to wanting everything on the slide to have maximum impact. Usually there is a tendency for people to simply fill screens with ugly bullet points and meaningless clip art, neither of which enhance a presentation. My view is that it’s usually best to use the screen for strong images and the occasional key phrase, like a title or important data point, leaving the bulk of the argument for the oral portion of the presentation.

Sometimes, though, the text is the art. Although I wouldn’t recommend using these typographical techniques for an entire campaign presentation, they can be effective for certain portions, or for any video messages that you might want to make for your client proposals.

A couple of my favorites from the above link:

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.805422&w=425&h=350&fv=clip_id%3D3213842%26server%3Dvimeo.com%26autoplay%3D0%26fullscreen%3D1%26md5%3D0%26show_portrait%3D0%26show_title%3D0%26show_byline%3D0%26context%3Duser%3A1297679%26context_id%3D%26force_embed%3D0%26multimoog%3D%26color%3D00ADEF%26force_info%3Dundefined]

more about “Ana Ng Typographic video on Vimeo“, posted with vodpod

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.805432&w=425&h=350&fv=clip_id%3D3367304%26server%3Dvimeo.com%26autoplay%3D0%26fullscreen%3D1%26md5%3D0%26show_portrait%3D0%26show_title%3D0%26show_byline%3D0%26context%3Duser%3A1353356%26context_id%3D%26force_embed%3D0%26multimoog%3D%26color%3D00ADEF%26force_info%3Dundefined]

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.805444&w=425&h=350&fv=clip_id%3D1191402%26server%3Dvimeo.com%26autoplay%3D0%26fullscreen%3D1%26md5%3D0%26show_portrait%3D0%26show_title%3D0%26show_byline%3D0%26context%3Duser%3A533265%26context_id%3D%26force_embed%3D0%26multimoog%3D%26color%3D00ADEF%26force_info%3Dundefined]

In any case, it’s worth checking out. And as we near the end of the semester (and your team presentations), I strongly encourage you to visit Presentation Zen (where a recent post shows another fantastic text-based presentation) for tips and examples, and Ted for more inspiration.

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2 Responses to When text is a good thing in a presentation

  1. elwhite2 says:

    These video presentations are amazing! I just watched the one on Presentation Zen about the lost generation. I think it would be a neat idea for a the story line part of our presentations, however, I do not know if this would be a great format for a long presentation (15 mins). I have really come to learn the importance of keeping minimal amounts of text on a slideshow presentation. After having learned how to put together a more creative slide show, I have noticed the audience’s attention level has significantly increased. Most of the time, presenters do not realize how boring their presentation is until they focus on captivating their audiences attention, like most of us are working on for our big presentations.

  2. drgilpin says:

    I’m glad you liked them! I agree that they wouldn’t be good for a complete pitch presentation, but some of these techniques added in small doses could be interesting and have a lot of impact.

    I’ve found that just taking the time to step back and really think about the complete package of a presentation makes a huge difference in quality and overall interest level. While I don’t believe in blaming tools for human mediocrity, the ease of tossing together a few PowerPoint slides means that people often just don’t put a lot of thought into what they’re doing. I’m glad that you’ve found it useful to spend some time on the subject–it’s a skill you’ll always be able to use, in any job.

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