If you’re searching for a fast and easy way to step up your presentation infographic game, give Venngage a shot. Venngage is a one-stop platform for all things infographics. With their extensive library of infographic templates and editing tools, you are bound to find a template that suits your needs.
Let’s face it, numbers, timelines and processes can be as difficult to present as they are to explain to an audience, so make it easier for them- use infographics. They help your audience break down lengthy and complicated topics you are presenting.
As we at HighSpark, regularly work with clients to develop and improve their presentations, we understand the importance of concise yet impactful visuals. Hence, we rely on infographics to break down large chunks of information into bite-sized, audience-friendly pieces. They also save space and time during a presentation.
Overall Thoughts On Venngage
Customised to meet your needs
To start you off on the right track, Venngage first asks you a few questions to streamline their search results to best fit what you might be looking for. They ask for some basic information: your field/industry, department and let you choose a minimum of 3 sample templates from a selection. After which, you can browse through their wide collection of sample templates and pick one you would like to work on.
Pressed for time and need something specific? Their templates are also sorted into categories by tabs located on the left of your window. This filters your search results- a time-saving tip! For example, if I wanted to quickly search for specifically business-related templates, all I would have to do is:
Locate the search bar at the centre of the webpage
Type in the keyword associated with the template style I’m looking for
Press Return/Enter key or the magnifying glass icon to start search result generation
Once you’ve chosen a template to work on, Venngage guides you on a step-by-step explanation on how to use their editing suite. This takes no longer than 3 minutes and would be a huge help for beginners. They’ll show you:
Where your basic tools are & how to use them
How you can arrange, align & scale sections on your infographic
What options you can use once you’ve completed designing (export, download, share, etc.)
However, if all else fails and you find yourself stuck, they also have an onboarding guide which includes a series of video tutorials instructing you on how best to use the functions/tools available you could watch.
If you’re a business-person, I highly recommend you upgrade to their Business Plan. You’ll have access to a wider selection of templates and layouts targeted towards business-related topics. I also discovered a unique feature Venngage has, interactive options. With this feature, your infographic can do more than the basics(inform, entertain, educate or persuade). You can add YouTube videos, survey polls and forms, which doubles up your infographic as a data collecting source. I could see this being useful for audience analysis or email marketing.
However, I highly suggest exercising some caution when it comes to data collection through a third party as I can’t say for certain how confidential all data collected is kept with Venngage.
Easy to find and use, Venngage’s tools in editing mode are organized into different categories. On page left, the available tools help you to insert and edit the content on your chosen template. Virtually everything on your template can be edited to how you like it- colour scheme, icons, fonts, etc. If you would like to be precise, Venngage has a function on its editing suite, that allows you to enable a smart guide, apply grids and margins for you to work with ease.
Want to insert photos? Click on the “Image Uploads” tab on your tools column, where you can drag and drop the image you would like to insert. The image should then appear on your template where you are free to scale it to size. If you’re worried about copyright, Venngage also has a library of stock photos you can use in your templates.
A neat feature they included allows you to replace an image you inserted but wish to change by double-clicking it. You can then decide whether you would like to change it to an icon, stock photo or one from the library of photos you’ve previously uploaded.
To insert graphics- icons, charts and maps or interactive elements, simply scroll through the column of categories on the left of your webpage. Once you select a category, a dropdown menu would appear, showing you various options you get to choose from. Based on my recent experience, Venngage’s wide array of icons is what sets them apart from others. They offered nearly every type of icon you could think of, in multiple colours, that were of good quality too. To add on, Venngage has helped us all by including a mini search bar in the icons category which helps us to quickly find the icons we might urgently need!
Using Venngage For Work
Easy to navigate and use, Venngage’s tools help to create detailed, put together infographics efficiently. Another tip I can share is that if you are looking for a way to speed up your editing process for branding purposes, you can explore the option “My Brand Guide”. It allows you to pre-set your brand logo and colour scheme which you can apply to any template you choose to work on within Venngage.
Pros vs Cons
Wide variety of infographic templates so you will never have to create from scratch
Straightforward editing tools
Can be customised to your specific liking
Extensive Help Guides available, easy-to-learn
Difficult to edit on split-screen mode (Mac users)
“Invite Team” option is great for group projects, but is limited by your account type: basic, free option allows others who join to view and comment only (subsequent team members added to the group need to upgrade their accounts to the same plan as the owner to edit designs created by other members and create designs to share with your team.)
Venngage has multiple membership plans: free, premium and business. Premium plans are charged by a quote and Business plans are SGD$49/month. Both premium and business plans have the option for monthly, quarterly or yearly payment (cost varies). For its price, their Business plan is great for those who are looking to invest in a one-stop platform for their infographic design as the editing tools and export options available are plenty sufficient for them to churn out brand-centered infographics regularly.
For those who are looking for a quick resource to spruce up one or two infographics, the free plan is your best bet- it’s basic gets the job done and allows you to share your work publicly. Given these points, I would use Venngage in the future for its ease-of-use and variety of templates. However, I feel that out of the 3 offered subscription plans, premium and business were the most worth it for their price.
If you’re deciding between the two, I would also strongly suggest you try out the premium subscription plan before upgrading to the business plan as their features are quite similar, except for the “branding” tool and “My Brand Guide”. Another plus point Venngage has is that it is conducive for group work, simply invite team members to the current template your working on. This facilitates real-time simultaneous edits while saving you and your team time compared to other sites that allow only a single editor at a time.
Using imagery in your presentation is a sure-fire way to boost its visual appeal, increase recall and overall build a more persuasive presentation. Whether it’s a sales pitch or internal presentation, you simply can’t go wrong with using icons in your presentation. In fact, it might even help your presentation 6 Persuasive Presentation Techniques From The Science Of Influenceincrease it’s persuasiveness.
In the day-to-day work for the clients we work with, we use icons extensively as well. Even a simple technique like switching a normal bullet point for a relevant icon helps to not only improve the way our presentations look but offer viewers a visual reference as to what the bullet point is talking about.
In our presentation skills courses, we recommend using a variety of visual tools to accomplish this. These include photographs and stock imagery, as well as iconography and diagrams. Each tool can be used in different situations for varying objectives depending on what creative presentation ideas you have in mind.
Flaticon is an excellent free icon and visual image repository that allows you to download icons in PNG format (transparent background) in a specific HEX color of your choice! Before we had enough clients to get access to a library of professional icons, we used this extensively to churn out high-quality icons that were consistent with our client brands.
If you’re looking to invest in some specialised icons, they also offer a premium pack that you can purchase for more specialised icons.
Freepik is another popular repository for images and iconography. You can find PSD files, photos and vector files for your next presentation project. They add hundreds of new graphic elements every day and boast about 400,000 different visual assets available for download on their platform.
Iconfinder is home to more than 100,000 icons organized into neat little icon packs/sets. The only possible trouble you might encounter is that the styles of the icons vary greatly from completely flat graphics to skeuomorphic and some that look a lot like clip-art. You’ll be able to find some gems here for your presentation design if you look deep enough!
This is one of our favorite resources that we use all the time. The Noun Project was created to help the world (and very likely, designers) communicate through visual language. They have a really strong community of committed contributors that produce really amazing vector icons in various styles. The really cool thing about this site is that they have a native Mac application (which requires a paid plan) that lets you drag-and-drop icons directly from their app onto your software of choice! (i.e. Adobe Illustrator or PowerPoint) Similar to Flaticon, you’ll be able to pick the colors of the icons too!
This site is all about simplicity – telltale from the black and white color scheme. There are basically two ways you can use the simply drawn icons from here. Click the first tab and get access to close to 4,000 different icons that are neatly organized in more than 200 collections. Otherwise, download the ‘icon font’ where you’ll be able to insert icons using your QWERTY keyboard when you type in software like PowerPoint and such.
This repository has almost 60,000 flat icons all accessible within a FREE native application that works on both Mac and Windows. They offer a professional license for you to use all the icons for commercial projects at $19.90 a month.
The Material repository of icons is ‘officially’ meant more for UI/UX designs in iOS or Android projects. This doesn’t mean you can’t use those icons for your own presentations though! With more than 900 commonly-used icons at your disposal, add this one to your presentation icon arsenal.
This free icon library has all of its icons conveniently tagged. It’s not the largest library, but you might be able to find some that you can use for your presentation to communicate complex messages.
Vecteezy is one of the more well-known repositories for free vector art in various formats (i.e. svg, ai, eps and more). Besides providing high-quality icon sets, they also offer numerous flat designs for anything you can think of – from megaphones to silhouettes doing squats.
The Nova Icon Pack by Webalys is a 350-icon vector pack that you can download for free. It has icons for most messages you can think of and even icons about beauty and gardening. If your presentation needs to be visually consistent, using icons from this icon set an easy way to achieve that.
A marketplace of free design goodies, the Pixelsmarket icon section also boasts plenty of high-quality and really colorful icons packs up for grabs. Just head over to the website and you’ll be able to download these icons in vector or PNG formats.
Fribly is a gold-mine repository of visual design assets. In their section for icons, in particular, you’ll be greeted by superbly drawn icons of almost anything you can imagine – from household items to energy icons.
The Ego icon-set is a fantastic way to give your presentations a futuristic feel with the hexagonal-style drawings that the set contains. You get up to 3,600 icons if you buy the paid set, but the free set is good enough for most usages.
A design repository gem that not only offers icons, but also backgrounds and free stock images that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else. They have paid products that are more complex to execute such as cut-out images and the like. If you have the budget to spring for some, do consider purchasing the paid items.Otherwise, their free goods are pretty good too.
Pixeden is one of the longest-standing design marketplaces in existence. Similar to Creativetail, they have both paid and free products such as mockups and the like. They also have pretty comprehensive icon sets in the repository as well. Their latest product release: Orion Icon Library has 4,500 icons in 4 styles – Line, Solid, Color and Flat with an app similar to The Noun Project so you can always have access to icons of almost every style for your presentation design projects.
Similar to Iconfinder, they organize their icons into little categorized packs for you to download and search. Don’t be fooled by the name though, the interesting thing about this platform is that they only accept 15% of the icons contributed. You’ll only find top quality icons for your presentation here. They have about 10,000 icons in their repository currently but they are always adding more to the collection. If you’re going for quality over quantity, head over to their site.
This is more of a quick hack to find some custom icon sets made by some of the best designers in the world on Dribbble. Many of them leave high-quality resources up for grabs after clients reject them. Go ahead and do a quick search to see if you can find any ones that suit your presentation project.
The Linea icon set has about 730 icons in its numerous, neatly categorised icon packs. They all sport a distinct line-icon style that is very popular for businesses that want to look professional, or those that work with technology.
This might be the only icon site you really need to get started on your projects. They have more than 8,000 icons in their repository that split into varying styles like Flat, Line and Solid design styles. With more than 2,000 icons in each of these styled-packs you’ll always be able to find the right icons in the right style for projects of any setting.
Inscribemag is also an aggregator of some of the best design resources available on the web. If you’re looking for icons in particular, just head over to their ‘icons’ section to feast your eyes on some of the nicely-styled options like drop-shadows and social iconography.
The selection of icons on this site is a little limited, but still unique compared as to what you might get on the other sites. Consider browsing here if you’re looking for something you haven’t seen in the other sites above.
As its name suggest, this Blogspot page aggregates plenty of graphic assets for free, commercial usage. The only drawback would be that you might need to keep clicking ‘older posts’ to navigate previous resources that they may have posted about.
This is one of those resource pages we keep going back to. Graphic Burger curates some of the best free design resources on the web from sites like Dribbble and Behance. You’ll be able to find anything from fonts to icons for your presentations.
There are more than 24 free sites on this list to get you started with using effective icons in your next presentation. Coupled with the other resources we included in our previous posts about free stock images, I’m confident you’ll be able to start taking those presentations to the next level!
Here are links to some of our previous articles to get you started on the right path towards boosting your presentation visuals:
Presentations are not easy to do, we get that. They’re time-consuming, stressful, and more often than not, boring. But it doesn’t have to be that way. With the help of the right tools and tricks, you can create an interesting speech in a short period of time without much effort.
Here are 10 creative presentation ideas that you can incorporate into your next talk to give it that extra punch.
Presentation Idea #1.Share a Story – Make it Personal
In general, we recall life’s experiences through moments, not days. Similarly, it is human nature to remember intricate stories, not facts.
In a study conducted by two Stanford professors, they found that the students tested were able to recall words that played a part in constructed stories about six to seven times better than a random set of unrelated words. This is why presentation storytelling and using narratives is so powerful – it drives that important message home, and inspires action from your key stakeholders or audience.
To make a statement, and leave an impactful message in the minds of your audience, weave a story of a personal situation into your presentation. Share an anecdote, a short story, or a memorable incident related to your talk.
One good example to learn from would be fellow Singaporean Darren Tay’s speech during the World Championship of Public Speaking.
In his speech, Darren narrates an intriguing story of a school bully, and linked it to his message of getting the audience to face their own inner bully, acknowledging its presence, and overcoming it. If he had simply made a point, it would have been forgotten in minutes. However, Darren’s personal story made the audience empathise, driving the key message deeper into their minds.
Presentation Idea #2.Use the Hero’s Journey to Create Your Narrative
We’ve all heard of Star Wars, it’s one of the most successful movie franchises around. But how did it retain an enthusiastic cult even 40 years after its debut?
Well, fans have the monomyth (also known as the hero’s journey) to thank, as the application of this evergreen narrative pattern has allowed us to experience an individual’s journey from start to end. With a strategic sequence of actions, we witnessed a beloved character (Luke Skywalker) leave his world of comfort to face an awakening (The Sith), before returning stronger to conquer the ordeal at hand (as a Jedi Master).
In the original monomyth popularized by Joseph Campbell, there are quite a few steps which may not always be obvious in a hero’s journey. Justin Roiland – the creator of the well-known series ‘Rick & Morty’ uses Dan Harmon’s simplified edition of the monomyth also called the ‘story circle’.
Justin has credited this deceptively simple circle for the riveting yet seemingly nonsensical plot of the series’ episodes that has drawn a cult following of millions of fans worldwide.
This can be applied to your presentations as well. When you bring the audience on a journey, placing them in the shoes of the hero, you can influence them to see the outcome you’re seeking, and the steps needed to get there. Think of your slide narrative as a story, where you show them the beginning (the problem they face), the middle (the actions they need to take) and the end (the ultimate goal of your speech).
Presentation Idea #3.Break Your Presentation into 3 Big ‘Acts’
From literary classics like Three Little Pigs and A Christmas Carol, to slogans like the Olympics’ Citius, Altius, Fortius, it has been proven that characters or events grow on us when they are grouped in threes to emphasize an idea.
In the presentation sphere, this writing principle – the rule of three as we call it – has allowed contemporary speakers like Steve Jobs and Barack Obama to convey high-level information in a simple and catchy manner.
For example, when he shared with the world a decade ago that Apple would launch the revolutionary iPhone, Steve Jobs said:
“Today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class.
Thefirstone: is a widescreen iPod with touch controls.
Thesecond: is a revolutionary mobile phone.
And thethirdis a breakthrough Internet communications device.
These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.
Today, Apple is going to reinvent the phone, and here it is.”
Similarly, Obama struck a chord with the American people during his first inaugural speech with his frank 3-part statement:
“Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered.”
The rule of three helps to keep your content simple, yet memorable enough to help your audience remember the key messages you’re bringing across.
Presentation Idea #4.Ask Provocative Questions
It takes zero effort to ask easy questions. But what happens if we ask mediocre questions? The listener grows bored and begins to tune out from the conversation.
Posing provocative questions gives your presentation an edge over others, and allows them to think about your speech from a different perspective. Take Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech for example. He boldly addressed the marginalized Negro population, asking them, “When will you be satisfied?” Imagine the reaction that followed, and the rest, as we say, is history.
It seems challenging, but a question of such nature should not be underestimated as it can serve as a springboard for your audience to crystalize the problem which they have been facing.
Once you’ve asked the question during your presentation, seize the moment! Paint the less-than-ideal scenario that your audience faces, before steering them towards the aspired narrative that you can promise as a solutions provider. Don’t worry about the dozens of other questions they may have – leave them to the Q&A.
Presentation Idea #5.Use Evocative Imagery in Your Presentation
Did you know? Research has shown that our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. That’s like information transfer on steroids!
Not only are images processed more efficiently, but they also increase our recall of the information as well. For example, one of the proven ways to ensure that learners store memories for the long-term is by pairing ideological concepts with meaningful imagery. Astudy found that this effect increases over time, and users recalled three times more visual information than textual ones.
In another study from the 1970s, a Canadian psychologist, Lionel Standing, conducted an experiment where subjects were shown 10,000 general, boring images over a few days and tested on their recall after two days. The result was a 66% recall rate. A smaller set of 1,000 more vivid images were tested as well and the result was an astounding 88% recall rate for pictures such as a dog with a pipe in its mouth. Takeaway: We tend to remember things that are easy for us to visualize.
Other studies have also found that some visuals can cause an emotional, almost visceral reaction. Images can influence us to take action or become more cautious, take a liking to something or shy away from it. That is why some of the best ads of our time have used impactful images. In fact, presentation slides are not that different from a great ad. Both need to be brief, attention-grabbing, and influence audiences to perform an action.
A recent presentation that has used large, full-bleed images to great effect is Elon Musk’s PowerWall showcase. During his talk, he used a variety of different images to depict the scale of pollution and the potential of Tesla’s products.
Imagine if Elon had merely used text to communicate those grandiose ideas, the presentation would have inevitably tanked quickly (think something reminiscent of an early Bill Gates presentation).
When you’redesigning your next slide deck, try to incorporate a couple of evocative images for a more memorable, persuasive and captivating presentation.
Presentation Idea #6.Use Visual Metaphors
Many of us retain information well through visuals, and sometimes, it is the best way to bring a concept or message across, ensuring that it stays in the audience’s mind.
Take this image for example, which has been used frequently in dozens of presentations, and which you’d have most likely come across at least once. The hidden iceberg beneath shows a depth that’s not seen by people, and is commonly used by speakers to demonstrate or relate to something unseen, or an underlying issue.
When you’re choosing an image, a video, or any other visual, make sure that the link to your message is clear enough for the audience to see the relation, while still remaining a little mysterious for them to figure it out themselves.
Presentation Idea #7.Use Live, Physical Props
There are times where you wish to explain or emphasize a concept or an idea. Unfortunately, not everyone can visualize the same way you do, or know exactly what you’re thinking. In these cases where you’re sharing something abstract, physical props can make a huge difference in supporting your talk, and even add a level of novelty and intimacy when used appropriately.
One good example you can learn from would be Bill Gates’ TED talk. In his speech, he discussed about the issue of malaria, while releasing a jar of live mosquitoes into the audience to highlight or ‘shock’ the audience into realizing the importance of malaria prevention.
The move was dramatic and definitely impactful, but most importantly, it pushed the listeners to think from a different perspective.
When you choose your props, think of the main message you’re trying to bring across. Using too many can backfire and bore your audience, so use this technique sparingly.
Presentation Idea #8. Have Obvious Presentation Transitions
How many times have you delivered a presentation halfway, only to notice your audience members looking incredibly lost?
If you lack the time to work on your narrative, try to include transitions, which act as ‘visual signposts’ that guide your audience and you through the presentation.
These do not need to be complex; in fact, it can be extremely simple. In your presentation deck, instead of using the same background throughout, decide on an alternative color or style to differentiate your transition slides from every other slide. These will act as your ‘markers’ to visually indicate to your audience that you’re moving on to your next point. If they got lost anywhere during your presentation, you’ll be able to jolt them back on track.
Once you’ve decided on what these would look like, insert these at specific junctures of your presentation such that they stands out clearly from the rest of the slides.
Presentation Idea #9. Use Quotes to Make Your Point
As you’re about to conclude your presentation, you’ll probably see heads twitching, bodies fidgeting, and cellphones appearing. It’s not an uncommon sight – We generally have short attention spans, and knowing that a presentation is about to end tempts us to begin checking our phones and getting ready to leave.
To maximize your audience’s remaining attention, a good way to sum up your points and leave an impression would be through a quote.
You may wonder, “If I’m just going to echo what others have said, won’t that reduce my credibility as a speaker?”
Absolutely not! As long as you reference a line that is brief and contextualized to your speech, your chosen quote could serve as a springboard to bring your audience back to the ‘big picture’.
For example, the 2003 World Champion of Public Speaking, Jim Key, quoted Martin Luther King, saying, “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., one of the greatest dreamers of our age, said, “The time is always right to do what is right”.”
He then followed it up with his own interpretation: “That means if it’s right for us to dream as children, then it’s just as right for us to dream as adults.”, before highlighting his message – “The question is: do we have the courage to dream?”
Sharing a quote can also highlight your domain knowledge and preparation, especially if you are, or would like to gain stead as a market leader. You can craft a quote based on your own words, or modify a popular one to match your situation.
The power of quotes and their ability to add credibility to a story should not be underestimated. They can also serve as guides or ‘reminders’ to keep the audience and the story on track. With a simple quote, you now have a good springboard to launch your next talking point. Of course, do remember that you will need practice to pull it off smoothly!
Presentation Idea #10. Try Having One Headline Per Slide
Many people have frequently debated on the ‘right amount’ of words each slide should contain. If you’re daring, here’s a radical idea which you can try – having only one word or headline per slide. There have been two popular proponents of this method, Masayoshi Takahashi and Lawrence Lessig.
Masayoshi Takashi is a programmer who gained notoriety through his unusual presentation style at RubyConf. When he dabbled in PowerPoint for the first time, he found that having one word or phrase per slide worked well for Japanese text, and brought his audiences through the presentation effectively.
The second popular originator of a similar method is Lawrence Lessig, a professor at Harvard who began presenting in an unusual way: Having only one word, phrase and/or image in each slide moving in rapid succession as he spoke. His presentation decks usually contain hundreds of slides, which goes to show that your presentation should not be limited by a number of slides. Interestingly enough, the method was proven to be pretty effective in his lectures and he soon had a chance to show it off on the TED stage:
The Takashi method and Lessig method forces your audience to listen to you in order to understand the presentation, ensuring that you have their full attention. However, do be cautious as this should not be applied in every situation. If used in a more serious setting, it may backfire as it can be jarring.
If you’re unsure whether you will be able to pull this off, try to start off by incorporating this method in a couple of slides. The variety and change of pace can prove to be a refreshing one for your audience, keeping them engaged in your presentation.
So the next time you’re doing a talk, keep in mind these 10 creative presentation ideas:
Share a personal story during your presentation to get your message across effectively
Bring your audiences on a ‘Hero’s Journey’ using a monomythic narrative
Break your presentation down into three parts to keep your content memorable and bite-sized
Ask provocative questions to help your audience view things from a different perspective
Add meaningful images to create an impact and increase recall
Use visual metaphors to explain a complex concept or message so that it sticks
Support your presentation with live and physical props to stimulate the senses
Insert transitions to guide your audience through a lengthy presentation
Reference quotes to add credibility to your assertions
Experiment with using one headline per slide to keep things fresh and punchy
Phew! We’ve finally reached the end of this behemoth of a post. These should give you enough fodder to spice up your next presentation. If you think we’ve missed anything, leave us a comment below!
Ever attended a presentation and found yourself staring at slides that were filled with nothing but words, words and more words?
Or maybe you were the one speaking and thought that visuals would be distracting, and hence did not add them in.
Why is that the case?
Here is an explanation by Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional eDevelopment and writer of several books and papers on visual literacy.
“…unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2). Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched.”
In our line of work, we hear different words being thrown around all the time. Whether it’s slides, slide-pack, presentation decks, PowerPoint slides… It looks easy to do, but to really take it to the next level? Not so much.
Yet more often than not, executives are tasked with developing quality presentation slides quickly and then find themselves stuck, wanting the presentation to leave the audience visually enthralled, yet racing against a looming deadline.
If you’ve got your presentation’s story and structure locked down, great. The next hurdle is to buff up (or in this case, simplify) your slides.
Here’s the thing. The biggest problem that executives face when it comes to putting a presentation slide deck together is: Trying too hard to do too much. Worse, because most us aren’t visually inclined, the challenge is compounded.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of 5 simple techniques you can use to have your audience’s eyes glued to the screen each time you press the button on your clicker. Leave your colleagues jealous…even if you’re a beginner with no design experience.
Tip #1: Select a Few Contrasting Colors for Your Presentation
Too many colours on a slide deck can be confusing, and may even end up being a distraction.
Avoid trying to turn your slide into something that resembles a rainbow – that’s when you’ll know you’re on the wrong track.
By picking fewer colors, your slides will be less cluttered, and you’ll be able to bring across clearer messages enhanced with visuals that aren’t buried under Skittles!
It’s fair to say that most people aren’t really that good at picking colors anyway. The best way I’ve found to teach beginners to do this is to start from one of these areas:
a) Use your company’s corporate colors
Certain organizations have strict brand guidelines and colors to choose from, but this may not always be a limitation. Using these colors ensure that you’re on-brand, and the color palette is usually kept to only a few colors.
If you don’t have a guideline in your company, an easy way to create a palette is to pick colors directly from your company’s logo. If the logos are designed well, most of the time the colors should contrast really well on both light and dark backgrounds.
b) Trawl the internet for color palettes
When in doubt, the Internet is your friend. Visiting sites like Behance or Dribbble lets you find plenty of good work from some of the world’s best designers. My tip is to not endeavour to do anything close to that, as it will take up a lot of your time (which you probably will not have). Instead, pay attention to the colors they use, and let it serve as your inspiration.
Notice the background and foreground colors that they’re using, and try those out for yourself. Or if you run out of ideas, our friends at Venngage put together a post on 101 different presentation ideas to help you get started.
c) Decide on an accent and a neutral color
Notwithstanding all the advice so far, the rule of thumb here is to just decide on a single ‘accent’ color (which is anything other than white, black, grey or brown) as well as a neutral color (white or dark grey). This is also known as a monochromatic scheme – not like the name really matters, right?
With that alone, you’ll suddenly have ease of access to an array of simple combinations to use on your presentation.
In summary, if you have guidelines internally, use those. If not, pick your own colors, but always try to stick to a single accent and a neutral color to make life easier for yourself.
Tip #2. Less Text On Your Slide
Another thing that’s pretty common in corporate presentations is text vomit (this isn’t actually an official word), and by that, I mean: Too many words that can be verbalized.
If your presentation is going to be delivered live by you or someone else, you don’t always need all the words up there. As long as the messaging is clear enough, you’re good to go.
This might fall more into the realm of effective storytelling, but it’ll make all the difference when you start designing your slides. This is simply because you can only do so much to enhance what’s already broken, or in this case, overwhelmingly cluttered.
Here are some quick ways to reduce your word count:
a) Reduce text in bullets and headlines
Here’s a quick example, if you had a sentence like: “Singapore’s housing prices are at all-time highs, making it difficult to afford for graduates who intend to get married at a younger age. This results in delayed marriages.”
Try to do your pointers in ‘mini-headline’ forms like: “Singaporean graduates delay marriage due to high housing prices” This example isn’t a whole lot shorter, but it helps to make the message you want to get across as succinct as possible – if you want to elaborate further, do it verbally.
b) Convert text to visuals
Visuals are processed 50,000 times faster than text. Just look at the symbols below:
You don’t need text to tell you what those are because visuals have implicit meanings attached to them. Use this to your advantage by shortening your paragraphs and headlines by replacing them with visuals. Here’s an example:
If you convert some of the wordings into visuals and verbalize the text instead, you’ll get:
They key is not to replace everything with visuals, but to reduce as much as you can while ensuring that the message does not lose its essence. Some questions to ask yourself after you simplify are:
Does my main point still come across adequately?
Can the nuances here be understood with visuals instead?
Will people get confused?
Based on the answers, you can decide whether to replace a paragraph of text with a visual.
By reducing the text on your slide – you instantly get a better-looking presentation overall even if you haven’t yet touched on the design and aesthetic aspects.
Tip #3. Proven Layouts and The Rule Of Thirds
If this isn’t your first article on presentation design, you might have heard about the rule of thirds before. I’ve written about this extensively in other articles but I think it’s important to mention it again below to give you the full picture.
The goal should always be to get your presentation done efficiently and effectively. With proven layouts and guides like the rule of thirds, you’ll get it right every time without too much guesswork.
Take a look at these 3 slides below – they all look pretty different, but actually follow the same grid layout:
This is not by chance; if you build good layouts from the get-go, you’ll be able to copy-paste them into new decks whenever you make them.
A simple way to get used to grid layouts is to split your slide into equal parts like thirds, halves or quarters. That way, you’ll always know how much space or slide real-estate you have to play around with. If you’re unsure of where to place your photo, you’ll know once you find empty spaces that require balancing.
As you go along following these layouts, building them for presentations will start to become second-nature, and you’ll know instinctively where to layer elements when appropriate.
Another quick way to look like a ‘pro’ without too much effort is to use full-bleed imagery wherever possible – you might have seen this used by more notable presenters such as Elon Musk or Steve Jobs, where they use high-resolution evocative photography to enhance their presentations.
Using the rule of thirds, you’ll almost always know where to place text when using full-bleed backgrounds. Basically, insert your text or any other element into the empty space where the lines intersect. Instantly, you’ll get a decent looking slide that looks way better than anything the rest of your colleagues can put together in a minute.
The only instance that might be challenging is when you have a busy image that does not have sufficient contrast to ensure your text can be seen. The fix for that, however, is pretty straightforward: Add either a gradient or solid fill shape – this can be done with a couple of clicks on Keynote or PowerPoint.
Many resources online, including some of our SlideShare content on presentations tout using custom fonts for your presentations – basically ones that aren’t installed by default on your machines.
If you have the prerogative to do that, awesome. There are plenty of great sites that offer really high-quality fonts that you can use in your presentations: Font Squirrel, LostType, f just to name a few. Using large san-serif fonts will help you get your message across boldly and sometimes, the beauty of the typefaces alone are enough to constitute the whole slide.
Problem is, if you can’t use your own personal computer when presenting, or you have strict corporate guidelines on the use of non-default fonts, you’ll be back to square one. How does one get past this?
Designers that work heavily with fonts use these terms to describe the space between them: tracking, leading and kerning. Respectively, these represent the horizontal spaces between letters in a sentence, vertical space between paragraph lines and space between single characters.
The only thing that you need to worry about is the tracking – which known to few is controllable in PowerPoint and Keynote but makes a huge difference to how your drabby old default fonts look:
For sentence-cased fonts, reducing the space between the letters makes them more aesthetically pleasing at larger sizes and the best thing is it only takes 2 clicks to do this!
If you have words in all-caps for fonts like Century Gothic, you can even try to space them out wider to have a really clean, premium style for your headings.
It’s a really quick trick that we use a lot in our business, and I’m sure that this one simple tweak will help you make a big impact.
Tip #5. Using Gradients
Here’s where it’ll start to get a little technical. It’s one of my personal best-kept secrets when we design presentation decks, but it is slightly more difficult to execute.
Gradients have long been a feature in presentation software such as PowerPoint and Keynote, but in my opinion, it’s been grossly under-utilized. Here are a number of ways you can easily start using gradients to boost your presentation slides easily:
a) Using a gradient background
Don’t you just hate seeing that plain, white slide with the placeholder ‘Click to add text’ on it? A quick way to give your slides an extra punch of sophistication is to add a radial gradient as a background – lighter center, darker edges.
That way, if you have any headlines or images in the center, the focus is literally ‘drawn in’ to whatever is placed there. At the same time, it leaves your background looking less monotonous than just a solid color.
Once done, just place it in your ‘Master Slides’ and all your newly created slides will sport the same background! Neat, right?
b) Use gradient boxes to frame text
As mentioned earlier in Tip #3, when your text can’t be seen on a busy background, adding a shape behind it can work great.
If you’re looking to have a more subtle shape, using a gradient is a great way to have contrast but not have it steal the attention from the background image.
Simply select one of the color anchors and turn it to 0% opacity, this creates an effect where the gradient gradually becomes transparent from your first color. This way you get legibility without sacrificing the background image.
c) Light to dark gradient shapes
Flat solid shapes in your presentations can look dull after awhile. Using different shades of gradients in your shapes can add that extra bit of interest and also be used to draw the eye to different parts of your slide.
As mentioned earlier, if you keep gradients within the same color but different shapes (monochromatic style), it’ll naturally look good without too much guess-work.
I’ve just given you 5 quick ways to look like a pro in presentation design drawn from our experiences working with our clients.
Did I miss anything out? Leave us a comment below to let us know!
Have you ever sat through a presentation where the data just looks so.. dull? Or overwhelming? Don’t worry, we can relate.
Don’t get us wrong. Data is wonderful, and plays a key role in our decision making – especially in business. But, it can get a little boring sometimes. Furthermore, we tend to tune out after 10 minutes of listening, where it becomes easier to focus on anything except the presentation.
So, now that you’re the one conducting a business presentation, why not avoid giving your audience the same misery you’ve experienced?
Here’s the thing. As presenters, we often make the assumption that the more content crammed into slides the better. After all, more information does show that you’re more knowledgeable about what you’re sharing, right?
In fact, when you first begin creating your presentation slides, one tip is to start by thinking of a headline that summarises your content succinctly. Think of it as a ‘Twitter-friendly headline’ as Carmine Gallo would say. This helps you focus on your key message so you can decide on which relevant information to include.
Data such as statistics and facts are fixed, but should not be rigid. If you have not decided on whether the information should be placed on your slides, ask yourself: What is your motive in presenting the data to the audience? If it’s just for the sake of showing, would it not be better placed in an appendix or word report?
The purpose of a presentation is to convince the audience to buy into what you’re selling, be it an idea, product or goal. That means it’s not just about using facts and figures – it’s also about appealing to their emotional side and gaining their trust. You need to craft a persuasive presentation
Here’s where data storytelling comes in.
The Art of Data Storytelling
“Numbers have an important story to tell. They rely on you to give them a clear and convincing voice.” –Stephen Few
Data storytelling is visualising data effectively. But despite so, it needs to be more than just creating visually appealing charts or graphs. It needs to be able to communicate the message across via the data presented. Basically, it all boils down to a combination of these three elements: data, visuals and storytelling.
When your story is coupled with data, it helps to explain to your audience what’s happening in the data and highlight the important points.
It helps enlighten the audience to insights that they wouldn’t see without charts or graphs. Visuals ensure that the data attracts the audience’s eyes to look at it – to be interested by it.
If you can combine these three elements together, you’ll definitely make your data come back to life.
Below is a video of Hans Rosling who is able to blend data and storytelling beautifully, so much that it can captivate anyone seeing him present:
Now you know how a good data storytelling is executed, learn how to prepare one as well. Here are our 3 proven tips that help boost your data storytelling:
1. Make It About Them
It is easy to talk about statistics. ’34% of children between the age of 7 to 9 in Singapore suffer from myopia’. ’13.3% of Singaporeans are smokers’. However, these are merely figures to the audience.
For example, if you’re sharing about myopia to a group of parents, ‘34%’ sounds rather insignificant, doesn’t it?
Here’s where the problem lies. The percentage of children suffering from myopia seems small, and using a pie chart gives the impression that the probability of it happening to their child is low. In the end, the figure you’ve shown is easily dismissed and forgotten.
Business presentations, especially those that you seek to convince with, are often filled with so much information that the audience becomes accustomed to it. Numbers lack the emotional impact that gets them to think, ‘okay, I need to pay attention because it concerns me’. So if you want to make an impression, you have to make it personal.
Start by amplifying the meaning behind your numbers. The beauty of data is that you can represent it in various ways to form different perspectives and opinions.
In this example, you can make it personal by asking the audience to look to their left and right. Tell them that amongst themselves and the two people beside them, one will have to tackle this problem with his or her child. Now the perspective has shifted. Instead of dismissing it as a low probability statistic, people now see themselves in the position, and they immediately realize the urgency to address the issue.
2. Get Your Audience to Fill Someone Else’s Shoes
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it” – Harper Lee author of the book ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’,
In many situations, we frequently emphasise the need to empathise and presentations are no different.
Your audience is generally eager to see you succeed. Unfortunately, they have short attention spans and will eventually start to drift off. To make things interesting, and increase their understanding of what you’re saying, giving them the opportunity to see things from another perspective.
Here’s the first example: Let’s say you’re delivering a sales presentation on HR software.
“After making the switch to our HR Software, 55% of these existing users have a 120% jump in productivity”
Sounds alright. You heard the benefits loud and clear. But… you don’t see the need to do anything about it right? There is no motivation to make you do so.
Now take a look at this example:
“John is a HR Manager who used Program X. He feels so frustrated with the system as it caused him problems with managing his staff, tabulating salaries, and other issues that added on to his workload rather than reducing it. Then he made the swap to our HR system. Instantly, his burden was lightened. Salaries became easier to calculate, employee holidays were easier to manage and John no longer has to worry about the system breaking down. 55% of other users like John found a 120% jump in productivity”
Do you feel inclined to do the same as John? That is the power of storytelling. Its main goal is to get your audience to feel the pain of maintaining the status quo, and envision the positive results if they go with your suggestion. It makes the character relatable to them. Makes the audience understand why the problem is a problem and how the solution can help them.
Charts are fantastic, they demonstrate what we want to say without using dozens of words that clutter the slides. With a quick addition of a few bars and lines, we remove the need to explain the numbers individually.
But what happens when your charts get too complicated? You’re back to square one. Charts are intended to help the audience visualise data. But when ‘data-dumping’ occurs, your audience is once again faced with the task of digesting the information in the short span of time when you show the slide.
As we’ve said earlier, data is fixed but not rigid. You may not be able to change the figures, but you can change the way it is presented.
Let’s assume you’re sharing a comparison set of statistics between two companies.
Start by asking yourself, what is the intention of presenting these figures? Is it to show an increase or decrease on a certain month? Is it to show the difference?
Once you’ve figured out the purpose, remove all the unnecessary data. You can leave them in the appendix if needed, but since you’re not going to talk about it in your presentation, eliminate it.
The next step is to ask yourself what your audience requires to understand the chart. Are the guidelines needed? Do they serve a purpose, or will eliminating them make it look clearer? Is it necessary to label every single point on the axis?
Based on that, we can remove unnecessary lines and details, to keep the chart simple.
Once you’ve removed the lines, you can add labels to the key points that the audience should focus on.
Wrapping It Up
Remember, this isn’t school work, where the reader has to see every single step you are doing. These people whom you’re presenting to need the easiest way possible to understand what you are trying to say in the shortest amount of time.
Data is integral in showing why the audience should trust your presentation or you. The beauty of your data should be shown visually as well. Remember to keep these three tips in mind when working on your data, and have fun!