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Point, Click & Wow! -- Chapter 5: Create High-Impact Slides

Special book excerpt: Crucial concepts for your presentations By Claudyne Wilder
Point, Click and Wow bookEditor's Note: Claudyne offers Point, Click & Wow! free when you purchase her CD: Slides That Win showing over 200 before and after PowerPoint slide examples (put in promotional code: pmaster). You can copy and use these designs. Find out more at wilderpresentations.com.

Here's the fifth chapter of a special book excerpt by Claudyne Wilder and Jennifer Rotondo. With this book, Point, Click & Wow!, you'll learn how to put together more compelling presentations with hundreds of tips and techniques you can't get anywhere else. This chapter shows you how to consider the design for your slides.

Now that you have decided the type of technology you plan to use, you can consider the design for your slides. For example, by using a remote mouse you can animate more images on your slides. If you don't have a remote, you don't want animations. If you carry your own LCD projector, you can use the watermark image, knowing that it shows up when you project it on the screen. If you have to depend on someone else's LCD projector, you may not want to create watermark images, as some projectors don't show them on the screen. You need to know your technology before you begin.

Slides are a key ingredient of any presentation. The role of slides, however, is one of the most misunderstood aspects of presentations. Slides are not intended to display the presenter's entire script, or even most of it. Slides are also not intended to display every specific issue. They should highlight the key messages. Word slides should not dominate the presentation. They should focus the eyes and minds of the audience on the main point while the presenter is speaking about it. Think of them as eye-catching billboard advertisements, not as full-page text ads.

There is a difference between creating slides and creating high-impact slides. Here's an example of what happens when you just create slides. A certain company's employees give talks on their products all around the world. They also train people inside other companies to give their seminar. They hired a graphic designer to produce the graphics for their presentations. The slides he created were gorgeous, but the show had one major problem. The graphics made it more difficult for the presenter to speak in a logical and systematic manner. The graphic designer did what he was asked to do -- create graphics -- but he was not the presenter. What looks pretty is not always easy to speak from. Animations and interesting images don't always make the speech any more understandable. The design may be stunning, but it is of little use if a speaker can't speak from it with style, enthusiasm, and clarity.

Four Elements of High-Impact Slides
The presentation lacked the four key elements for high-impact slides:

1. Emotionally engage the audience
2. Be understandable
3. Look aesthetically pleasing
4. Create a story waiting to be told

These four elements should be the core of every slide. Here's what they mean.

Engage the Audience. The slide must encourage the audience's participation?either out loud or in their minds. Unfortunately, after seeing the first five slides, many audiences wish they could leave. The slides should engage the audience's interest so that they want to hear the whole presentation. Most importantly, they should emotionally connect with the audience. Many people make decisions on emotion and then rationalize with the facts.

Be Understandable. The slide should, literally, be able to be understood in terms of its readability and its major point. Ever heard the saying, "Perception is everything"? Your graphics need to represent your message accurately and be designed so the audience is able to perceive the meaning.

Look Aesthetically Pleasing. So many slides break all the rules of design. In fact, many are quite awful to look at. A high-impact slide is appealing. One's senses come alive.

Create a Story Waiting to Be Told. Every presentation is a story. And every slide shares a piece of that story. When a slide is done well, the presenter can easily continue telling the story. Slides do that when they enable the presenter to speak with intelligence and add value to what the audience sees on the screen.

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