“Pardon me, is that Prezi you’re using?”
“No. Actually it’s PowerPoint.”
This was an actual conversation I had with a participant during a recent training session. Prezi has carried the label of “the next big thing in visual aids” for some time now. I’ve tried to learn it a few times, but it tends to make me dizzy. So I’ve stopped playing around with it.
I’m constantly on the lookout to find a better way to present visual information. I’ve highlighted some amazing Slideshare presentations in previous posts. Though I’ve pointed people in the direction of some amazing examples, I still can’t design amazing and engaging slides like some of those examples which have been produced by people with a graphic design background. But, I’ve found that a few simple tweeks to the way I’ve designed my slides can make my PowerPoint presentations a lot more interesting.
- Slide Transitions
I first noticed the difference that this element can play when I attended a session delivered by the chief operating officer of my organization. Instead of clicking the next button and having a new slide appear, he clicked the next button and one slide gave way to the next similar to the way a film strip would advance. It was a small touch, but it was unexpected. It was different. I liked it so much I started playing with the slide transitions element on a few recent presentations, and that’s what led one participant to ask if I was using Prezi. Be careful though, don’t overdo it on the slide transitions.
- Drop Clip Art, Use Simple Shapes
I have a limited budget and can’t spend much on artwork. Which means that often I can’t find free clipart images that express exactly what I want to express. Recently I’ve found that I can drop the idea of an image all together and use a simple design by inserting a few text boxes, a few shapes and lots of white space.
- Animate The Screen
This final tip uses a little more advanced PowerPoint design skill; it’s a trick I learned as I was trying to design a Family Feud-style board using PowerPoint for an activity (read more about it here: Survey Says! Creating Training Games Like Family Feud with PowerPoint). Beyond a game of Family Feud, this design element allows a PowerPoint presentation to be much more dynamic. Instead of simply animating a bullet-pointed list wherein each click of the mouse leads to a pre-determined order in the way things appear on the screen, using this design element allows a presenter to reveal concepts on the screen in the order that your learners mention them.
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