Leave PowerPoint Alone!
Several years ago I went to see Dave Gorman. He is a stand up comedian who tells stories of his extreme adventures! The first time time I saw him was his Are You Dave Gorman? show where he had travelled the world looking for other people called Dave Gorman. During the show he used PowerPoint – it was so slick, great slides, brllliant timing and really funny. It was one of the first times I had really seen PowerPoint used like this.
A few months later I then came across a book called Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. It has simple design principles that you could use to enhance your presentations and slides. The book was a breath of fresh air – I’d not really come across anything like it, this was about using amazing images, elegant use of typefaces, positive of content on the page. For many of us we’ve been used to seeing bullet points at presentations, poor structured slides and terrible images….slide and slide and slide.
I took some inspiration from Garr Reynolds and Dave Gorman and decided to overhaul my own presentations using striking images, new fonts and picking out key pieces of content. I tried this new approach at a number of presentations and the results were positive – it took a while to get the slide design right and I needed several attempts to get the style right but overall it really helped to give my presentations a much needed lift. …and I was using PowerPoint.
I read lots of articles about PowerPoint and how it creates terrible presentations. Read Garr Reynolds book, spend some time look at smashing magazine, download some new fonts and you might think differently about PowerPoint.
You don’t need to use all of the transitions, SmartArt and built in templates but you can use a lot of the in built animation features, timelines and control features. If people see a poorly designed website we don’t suggest that HTML is a poor tool – we point people towards great case studies and guides.
From the people I’ve seen using PowerPoint I’ve picked up the following tips:
Create a design style for your slides
Don’t clutter the slides with content
Use really memorable images – buy them if you need to
Use an impactful typeface
Match your image with your message
I’ve read similar articles about the use of PowerPoint in conjunction with Rapid elearning tools. Spend some time in the Articulate forums and you will see some amazing elearning projects that have been created using Studio 09 – PowerPoint is just part of the development platform. You can easily apply many of these techniques to your elearning designs.