Join Bill Shander for an in-depth discussion in this video Rethinking text-based slides, part of Data Visualization for Data Analysts.
- [Voiceover] So, you're probably thinking to yourself, "Isn't this a course on data visualization? "Why are you talking about text-based slides?" Well, here's the thing. Presenting information is presenting information whether in data or in text, whether in charts and graphs, or in paragraphs. You're presenting information all the time and while we're here talking about data, I thought it was worth a few minutes to talk about the rest of your presentations, too. Don't skip this movie. I do think you'll learn something from it. And, by the way, one of these two so-called text-based slides, is really a data slide. Yes, the same principles apply, of course.
Know your story, pick great headlines, know what you really want to say, do less, etcetera. So, here are two simple examples. One is purely text, and as I said, the other is, sort of a hybrid, as you'll see. This is from the report from the President's Council of Economic Advisors, reporting on the state of the economy in 2014. This is the opening slide in that presentation. It immediately followed the cover slide. Boom! Got it, right? Can't you see the overarching story? Do you get what's important? Nah, neither do I. Ok, so let's redesign this thing. Ok, I have two minutes to redesign, not enough time to do anything significant.
How about we at least break it into two slides? First progress, then changes. The two separate ideas deserve two slides. But of course, I would go further than that. These two slides may have separate ideas on them. Progress, jobs, this is one idea. Remove overview from the top. It's wasted space, it's a wasted idea, it's clear that this is an overview. The title already implies that. So, I added Jobs as a big subhead on the right, of the top there, right? That's gonna change from slide to slide.
For now, I'm still leaving the main point here in sentence form "By November, 2014 was already "The Best Year of Job Growth Since 1999." It's still a sentence, but, by using a little bit of typography, right, to call out the important stuff, my eye is drawn to the big red text. I get it, since 1999, the best year of job growth. Now the second bullet, right, about the progress, Jobs becomes Wages. See in the upper right-hand corner? Now we're on to a new subject matter and the two key ideas in this category rise to the top with one big idea that really pops, we're exceeding expectations.
Now another approach, of course, is just to abandon sentences and go to bullets, key words. Job growth from higher-paying industries, right? We don't need it to be in sentence form, we can just make it bullet-like. We're highly emphasizing the key points here. This isn't highly designed, right? This doesn't require design skills. It's just strategically edited. Alright, second example. This is an actual slide from a NASA presentation that I found on Slide Share about Mars exploration. If you read this slide, it's really interesting. There's a lot of information.
And there's even a bit of data, right, you have these three letter project abbreviation lists after each bullet. Those indicate which Mars exploration project led to these various discoveries. But as a slide, it's way too dense. It's terrible for speaker support since the audience will be reading rather than listening, probably like you're doing right now. And there's nothing drawing my eye to anything, so I took the liberty of doing a quick redesign. So, we have our headline, A Decade of Discoveries. And a little subhead here, or actually really, sort of a continuation of the headline, it reveals a diverse planet with a complex history.
I have bullets capturing the key ideas with details to follow. So, Diverse Mineralogy. It's a Wet, parentheses, Warm, question mark, Climate. Pervasive Water Ice, Climate Change, etcetera. And then details below it. If you wanna read the details you can, but you're not forced to, unlike the prior version of this. So the highlight really draws the eye and all the information is, sort of, less overwhelming, more organized and more compelling. And, of course, I can immediately see those project abbreviations to the right, and which ones apply to which discovery.
If I was presenting this to an audience, I would definitely build this on over several slides so my audience is paying attention to me and my story and not reading ahead. This isn't rocket science, but hopefully this short demonstration will help you think about how to organize your text slides a bit differently to have a bigger impact on your audience.
- Why visual communications matter, and how they work
- Communicating via story
- Communicating with color
- Using legends and sources
- Sketching and wireframing
- Rethinking slides, charts, and diagrams
- Rethinking your templates and brand guidelines