Thursday, August 18, 2011

Don't Forget Your Pants—Keep it Simple, Relevant, and Professional

We're running a blog series by guest blogger, Megan Skuller, a graphic designer at 24 Hour Company, specializing in proposal and presentation design. Below is the third in a series of four blogs by Megan about how to improve your oral proposals and presentations. Using real-world examples, Megan shares her top three rules when building visuals for your next project. This blog highlights her first rule.

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In a BNETvideo on YouTube called Present Like Steve Jobs, Communication Coach and author Carmine Gallo breaks down how the successful CEO gives presentations. This is something that Mr. Jobs is known for and has written about. Along with other good advice, Mr. Gallo says, “Inspirational presentations are short on words and big on pictures.” The last thing you want people to do is spend all their time reading bullets or trying to figure out overly complicated graphics rather than listening to and engaging in the presentation. All visual aids used should have a message and should always relate to what is being said. Everything should have a reason for being in the presentation or you need to take it out.

Watch the full video below:


Visual aids communicate on both a conscience and subconscious level. They should enhance, not detract. Starting with and sticking to a template is a key helper in creating a consistent, professional look. If your corporate branding does not already have a template, build one. As Mike Parkinson likes to say, “Consistency breeds trust.” Inconsistent changes in style and/or color looks unprofessional and subconsciously makes people distrust what they are seeing. Looking at the below example, which is more professional?


The graphic on the top uses too many different types of image styles and fonts. This disparity in design distracts from the message and doesn't make our eye want to read more. The graphic on the bottom uses similar styled photos, arrows, and fonts throughout the design. This uniformity draws our eye into the graphic and makes it easy for us to focus on the content—makes us want to focus on the content. If the author had taken the time to create a visually-appealing, cohesive graphic that conveys the information we need, then we can be assured that this company will deliver the professional and knowledgeable service we desire.

My next and final blog will cover making time to perfect your presentation. Check back next week!

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