All About PowerPoint, Presentations & Life
Can slides be sexy? What were you imagining when you read “sexy slides”? Some super hot model in bare essentials selling your product, or something else? Fashion presentations can have the luxury of making bold and sensational slides and yes, they would be sexy slides.
But every slide can be sexy- marketing pitch, sales data, company introduction, product features and the slide you are presently working on. By sexy, we mean classy slides. Slides that have substance. That take audience’s attention away from their smartphones and fixes them to your slide. And that are remembered long after your presentation is over.
Do you want to create sexy slides? Or do you want to create cliché slides full of bullet points like the one below:
Let’s tear down this slide bullet by bullet and re-construct a slide that you and your audience deserve. Let your PowerPoint slides be worth every second of the audience’s time. In this article (and we will be doing a series of these), we’ll take up one real example of slide we have seen, and polish it step by step. Once we are done with all the steps, we’ll get a final design like this one:
Let’s get started. Take a blank slide and implement these steps:
Step 1: Choose a Textured Background
Why do that? Every element in the slide needs to serve a purpose. And the purpose of a textured background is to set context. Since the subject is “Challenges”, the slide needs to paint such a picture in your head. Apply the knowledge of color psychology for added impact. That’s the reason we chose dark red as the texture color, for it symbolises threat. Insert it in your PowerPoint slide and cover the complete canvas with it.
Depending on the main theme of your slide, choose the background color. Read this to know colors and their psychological properties.
Step 2- Soften the Background Texture
Like we said above, background helps in setting up context. It is added to enhance the message, not overpower it. Hence, you do not want the texture to be so attention-grabbing that the audience ignores the message in foreground and starts imagining having the same texture for their carpet or walls.
PowerPoint allows you to soften the image in many ways. One way is to blur the image. Once you select an image, the Format tab (Picture Tools) gets automatically highlighted. Click that and open the Artistic Effects menu. Locate the Blur option in the second row and apply the same (see the screenshot).
Blur effect applied:
Step 3- Add Visual to Slide
No second guesses for why this step is important. It is commonly said in blogosphere that our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than words. There's no scientific evidence for that but there is evidence that our our visual memory is far stronger than verbal memory. We are visual learners, not textual learners. Using visual alone is not enough; the type of visual you use is also very important. As you will see in more examples of slide makeovers at the end of the article, you’ll find that each visual carries its own personality and changes the personality of the slide too.
Let us choose, for this example, the simplest and first image that comes to mind when you say Coke- the Coca Cola bottle!
Step 4- Make the Visual Transparent
If you find an image with a transparent background, then skip this step. If not, you can make the background transparent in PowerPoint. Right, no photoshop required! PowerPoint has a feature called “Remove Background.” If the contrast between the foreground and background in the image is high, then this tool will easily remove the background. If contrast is low, then you will have to manually highlight those areas with pen tool and guide the PowerPoint as to which areas to keep and which to remove. The end result will be a transparent image that easily merges into the background.
So, select your image, go to the Format tab and click Remove Background.
PowerPoint detects the background of the image and turns it purple. If some portion of your subject turns purple, that portion would be removed (don’t worry, that can be fixed too using Mark Areas to Keep tool).
As you can see in the screenshot below, some portion of the Coca Cola bottle is outside the demarcated lines and is part of the purple background. Drag the lines to have the complete bottle enclosed. Use the Mark Areas to Keep tool to ensure all areas of the subject are retained by PowerPoint. See the + signs on the grey area of the bottle? Those are the areas we have told the PowerPoint to keep. Once you have made the changes to your satisfaction, click outside and you will have a transparent image with you. Yes, removing background in PowerPoint can be that simple!
Optional Step- Enhance the Image
Small changes can make a big difference to the overall look of a slide. Depending on the theme of the slide, you can apply Artistic Effects and add meaning to the slide. As we are speaking about challenges over here, we tried out various artistic effects available as default in PowerPoint and some of them were amazing:
Check out which one looks the coolest on your image. Simply select the image, go to Format (Picture Tools) and open the Artistic Effects menu. Try out the different effects available but do not get excited- the effect should add meaning; not look fancy.
Step 5- Use an Impressive Font for the Heading
Let’s get started with putting text on our slide. The heading is as important as the visual element. In 99.9% of the cases, the headline is placed in the top right corner. Because of its strategic position, the title is the first thing that audience reads. So even if you do not use a very impressive font, it will still be noticed. Just keep 3 things in mind:
- Keep it short and crisp. Make a sub-headline if the complete message cannot be encapsulated in the main heading.
- Do not keep it all caps if you have more than four words. It’s difficult to read all caps. Since our title was only 3 words, we could keep it caps.
- Highlight the most important word in the title using a different color or size.
- Do not use Italics for a serious topic. Sans serif fonts (without a tail at the end of the letters) are more appropriate for titles than Serif fonts.
Using Custom Fonts: We used a customized font for this slide. If you do not want to do that, you can use any impressive Sans Serif font like Century Gothic. If you choose to download a font and install it in your PowerPoint, like we did, make sure to save the text as an image as the font will not be on the viewer’s system or the laptop you play your presentation on. Another limitation is that since you will have to save the text as an image, you won’t be able to edit the content, its size, colors, etc. A safe option is to keep a copy of the text (that you are going to save as an image) outside the slide so if you need to edit something, you can do so easily.
Choosing Font Colors: Pick the color of the title from the slide elements itself- a shade of the product or based on the feeling you wish to evoke (greys for serious mood and bright for cheerful news):
Minor addition- Notice clearly, we added a thin line to the left of the title to draw subtle attention of the audience towards it.
Step 6- Turn Bullet Point Sentences into Keywords
Now to the most important step and the biggest reason that made the Before slide so ugly. Bullet-point sentences and paragraphs! First of all, audiences can’t read all this text and hear the presenter speak it out at the same time. Secondly, even if you wish to take a printout of the slides and distribute them, you can create two slides- one for the presentation and one for distribution.
Bullet points should NEVER have complete sentences and full stops. Take out the most important words in the sentence. This will drastically reduce the content on your slide without sacrificing any important point.
Take a look at the text editing we did below. There was absolutely no need for the paragraph below the title- what’s your script doing there. Look at the third bullet point now- the entire paragraph could be summed up in 3 words- unfair competitive practices. You can narrate examples of those practices. That ways, your talk will have extra information than your slide. Did we say anything wrong?
Now, you have drastically less text on the slide and all points are covered. You can further highlight the most important word in the points. Here’s how your final slide looks:
Could we have designed the initial, bulleted slide in other way(s)? Yes, check out some more options below:
Additional Slide Designs Layouts
Alternative Slide Layout #1
Didn’t we say earlier that the choice of the image makes a great difference to the overall look of the slide? The image below can be interpreted in both ways- challenges that is causing Coke to spill (which is what we want) or just a pretty visual of Coke. You could also keep the title on the right and thus have 50:50 space allocation to image and text.
Alternative Slide Layout #2
The below layout is a simple yet effective design layout. It is also easy on the eyes as the audience can quickly read from left to right.
Alternative Slide Layout #3
Just a small change as compared to the above layout- creative positioning of the Coke bottle and positioning of the bullet points.
Alternative Slide Layout #4
Perhaps the image used in the layout below is the most effective visual to represent challenges before the brand. The crushed can adds more meaning than a simple bottle, don’t you agree?
Alternative Slide Layout #5
Here is another aesthetic design. The ample use of white space makes the design look sophisticated and is super easy on the eyes.
Alternative Slide Layout #6
A rich contrast makes any design come to life. Contrast any bright color against white, and the color scheme won’t go wrong.
Could anything else have been done with the initial, bulleted slide?
Yes. Have one message per slide - split five bullet points into five slides. Use a relevant visual to show each challenge the brand is facing. Of course, it will increase the number of slides but the time taken for the presenter to explain each point, and the audience to read each slide will be the same as reading all 5 challenges on one slide.
Get more ideas by clicking the below link:
How was the slide makeover? Got any creative ideas that could have been implemented here? Do share your feedback in the comments below.