Communicate More Visually with Less

ss_punchWe are less than a month away from the start of Fall Semester! Instructors, you are probably gearing up for new students, new classes, and a new semester. Now is a great time to review some of your lecture material as you do your prep work. We know many of you are using PowerPoint slides for your lectures so we wanted to bring back our presentation design series:

Communicating Visually: A PowerPoint Design Series

In this series we covered basic principles of good PowerPoint design to not just make your slides more visually appealing, but to ultimately help your students better grasp the content of your lecture and therefore improve their learning experience. We highly invite not just instructors but students and staff members to take a look at these principles and design tips to enhance your presentations!

Principle #1: Communicate More with Less

ppt_presenterIf you only change one habit in PowerPoint, make it this:

Put less stuff on each slide

Everyone has seen a slide with a list of bullet points, but students cannot be expected to attentively listen to the lecturer while frantically reading and copying a slide full of text. You may still need all the slide details, so here are two tips:

  1. Hide the slide
  2. Hide your notes

Both tips allow only you to see your slides and notes as you present instead of your entire audience. Click here to find out details on hiding this content.

Principle #2a: Communicate Visually with Imagery

Images are instrumental in connecting to the audience emotionally by enhancing a speaker’s key points and conveying more than words can describe. Images draw viewers into your story, can mark a transition point in a presentation, and serve as a mnemonic device.

For example, which slide grabs your attention?

ansp_butterfly_text          compfight_butterfly_egg

Click here for more on imagery!

Principle #2b: Communicate Visually with Infographics

Infographics visually illustrate a complex idea or system and can dramatically improve your lecture by simplifying processes you are describing, visually showing relationships between ideas, and creating another mnemonic device for your audience.

For example, you can turn this slide:

visual.ly_chickens   into this   visual.ly_chickens_infographic_crop

See more on infographics.

Principle #2c: Communicate Visually with Illustrations

Illustrations and icons can be just as useful in visually communicating your ideas to your audience. Always consider the audience prior to choosing imagery, as using an appropriate style for the clip art you choose creates support for your credibility.

For example, for a higher-ed audience, opt for clean, sophisticated clip art with a professional quality–

beaker_tableClick here to learn more about using illustrations in your presentations!

Principle #2d: Communicate Visually by Disguising Bullet Lists

Sometimes you can’t help but use a list of text. Instead of using a bullet list, disguise it through these simple text layouts, offered by Connie Malamed of “The eLearning Coach“–

  1. Organizing text into boxes
  2. Placing the content into a table
  3. Diagramming (see example below)

ppt_diagramPrinciple #3: Limit the Distractions

We understand that limiting text on slides and inserting graphics and different text layouts can be overwhelming. If you do not have the time to review your slides, consider helping your audience focus on the content you are delivering during your presentation by limiting the distractions. Here are two tips to keep in mind:

  1. You do not need an exorbitant number of slides
  2. Every slide does not have to be overly designed to be meaningful

Relying too heavily on PowerPoint during a presentation could occasionally distract your audience when they should be listening to you. Consider taking a pause from the visuals when you need to make a key point. Read more on limiting the distractions.

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