Ever sat through a presentation that contained so much information that you couldn’t remember what the main message was supposed to be? Here are 5 simple steps that will improve your presentations, by focusing your audiences’ attention on the parts you want them to remember. These tips will draw their eyes to the most important information on each slide.
1. Text hierarchy
Size and placement of text can be used to instantly draw the audiences’ eyes to a particular word or sentence. In the example below, the large text on the top left immediately stands out because of the large size, thick lettering and the position in the slide. One trick with text hierarchy is to add contrast in how you use the text – it’s no good just to bold everything and make all the text large. The aim is to draw the audience’s eye to a particular area of the screen. If you try and make everything ‘stand-out’ on the same slide, nothing will stand-out as the audience won’t know where they are meant to focus their attention. Decide on what elements are the most important, then adjust the size and placement accordingly.
2. Colours and contrast
When designing a PowerPoint a few years ago, I was asked to make all the charts using super-bright colours, with the express purpose of making them all stand out. This doesn’t always work, as sometimes there are too many colours that draw the audiences’ eyes all over the slide. It’s tempting to ‘wow’ the audience with your use of every colour in the pallete, but it may be benefitcial to limit colours on a slide and make the element you want to focus on stand out.
You can even colour a whole slide to make it stand out in a presentation, with a contrasting use of colours on the surrounding slides.
3. Animation and movement
You can use both real and implied movement to direct the eye of your audience and make something stand out. But note that it is very easy to over-use animation in a presentation, and sometimes it can distract from the general message you want the audience to take away.
4. White space
Positioning of empty space is often just as important as the elemtent that are in those spaces. Giving an object empty space around it will help differentiate it from the rest of the slide and make it stand out. The example below shows a large amount of white space towards the center of the slide, which not only gives the audiences’ eyes ‘breating room’, but also draws their eyes from the white space to the text above.
5. Guiding the eye along a path
You can use grahical elements to guide the audience’s eyes to a specific section. This could be as subtle as a photo of a person with a specific eye direction, or could be a block of colour, or even a simple arrow. In the example below, the block text on the right is shaped by the shadow on the ground, which helps differentiate the sections of the slide and draw the eye to the contrast of the white text over the shadow.
These 5 tips should help you improve the focus of your audience on the central messages of your presentation. Make the central messages stand out, to make your presentation stand out.
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