Editing and Design Powers Unite: Form of a Winning Presentation!

Posted on August 27, 2009 by Comments Off

Kiersten Lawson, Managing Site Editor, WE Studio D

Powerpoint Presentation RehersalA recent BusinessWeek article by Carmine Gallo warns readers of “How to Give a Lousy Presentation.”

We copyeditors within WE Studio D were unsurprised to see #1:

1. Misspell words. Failing to check the spelling on your slides shows a complete lack of care. If you don’t care enough to proof your presentation, your audience will care less about you and your message. It’s the easiest way to look unprofessional.

Foregoing a proofread is deemed more unprofessional than turning your back to the audience and reading your slides word for word. Worse than telling a dirty joke! More offensive than not practicing your presentation in advance or committing dangerous design sins such as the use of color combinations more seizure-inducing than late-90s Japanese cartoons.

I’m sure my designer colleagues and I could debate which is worse — the embarrassing typo or the overstretched image — for some time. Even after multiple cocktails and games of pool, the sensibilities we each hold most dear would likely remain unswayed. But I bet we all could agree on cardinal presentation sin #4:

4. Use a really small font size. If you really want to drive people crazy, say something like this: “I know you can’t read this, but if you could, here is what it would say…”

Because believe you me, where there’s small font, there’s lots of it. And not only is it a design catastrophe to cram way too much text on a slide, it’s a fundamental communication failure. It’s a clear signal that you can’t distill your thoughts and present your message in a simple, compelling way.

Take it from someone who’s proofread her share of PPTs over the years. Move 90% of those words to the notes section, focus on clarity and creativity, engage a good designer and editor, and remember what my high school drama teacher used to say when I was rehearsing the soubrette role of Nancy Twinkle in Little Mary Sunshine: Slower, Louder, Diction.

And good design and a proofread.

Photo credit: Ian Ruotsala

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