Skill Level Appropriate for all
- When you're making a presentation, you have many tools for creating a slide deck, but you'll always here from me, my overriding rule is to keep them simple. Remember that your audience has not come to read your slides. They've come to see and hear and interact with you, you know, body language, tone of voice, things like that. In fact, if they can get the gist of your talk by reading your slides, you might as well do everyone a favor and skip the meeting and just mail them a report. I have some good examples of simple slides and what's fun is they're from my own company, LinkedIn, at our Content Week earlier this year.
This slide deck, LinkedIn has a pre-designed slide deck that's used throughout the company. It's based on the typeface Source Sans Pro. I'll get back to that in a few minutes. But even working from templates can be tricky if you're not thinking simple. This deck was put together by my colleague Morty Golding, he did a very good job of it, he was very sensitive to typography and to rhythm and to pacing and especially to simplicity and so let me show you a few.
The slide you're seeing was just taken in the room. This was the opening slide for the week and it really set the tone for the meeting. It was a fresh, creative meeting. This picture is of the Pacific Ocean. This is the beach right across the highway from the LinkedIn Carpinteria campus. It's gorgeous. Sunset on the beach, I'm not showing you this to say, "Hey, you need to come to work "at the LinkedIn Carpinteria campus," but, "Hey, this is what we get." Content Week 2017 was set in Source Sans.
I love a couple things. One, that it's very low key. Two is that it's been set in white so it kind of recedes, it's sort of there like it's in the air rather than some forceful display. Three, it runs horizontally and it picks up the horizontal movement of the horizon line of the beach. While we're here, let me show you a couple of typesetting details.
First is to pay attention to the line "Content Week 2017". "Content Week" has been set with normal spacing. "2017" is far smaller. You can see it's been set the size of the lower case letters. I like that Morty did this and I like it because, well, it's plenty big to see the year. Numerals are normally all caps size and it does tend to make them overly big, almost like they're shouting at you.
In setting the size of... Of the lower case type though, this is basically the size of small caps. Let me show you a few of the typesetting details. "Content Week" has been set in Source Sans Pro, a black weight, which is the heaviest weight. "2017" has been set in extra light, which is the lightest weight and the line, the date line and "Carpinteria" have been set in the regular weight, but notice they've been spread out, that the spacing is much wider. As a rule, that's the way to do it.
The smaller the type gets though, the wider it needs to be spaced. One thing or two things here that I would like to point out, one is that "2017" has been set in the size of the lower case letters of "Content Week". I love that Morty did this because "2017", numerals are normally the size of capital letters, which make them too big, too important or unnecessarily big and unnecessarily important. So by reducing it to this size, it keeps 'em very present but gets 'em sort of off stage.
The other thing I like is that if he had set this in the same weight, sort of Sans Pro Black, but shrunk it, it would look weak, because the stroke widths would get narrower too. He's avoided that entirely by actually setting it in a different weight, so there's a high contrast here between black and extra light. Let me point out this. To my eye, "2017" has been set too tightly. Kind of compressed like this.
And I'm looking at that compared to the wide spacing or the normal spacing here and especially the wide spacing here. This feels unnecessarily tight. So I'd like to fix that. The other thing I'm seeing here is that this line of type, "Carpinteria", is taller than the space he's allowed above it. It's just barely... But what's happening there is it's feeling to my eye just a little bit congested.
And so the fix for both of those things is very easy. Here you can see that "2017" has been spaced now to match "Content Week". And that this line of type... Has now simply been moved away... Just a little bit so this channel... Is bigger than the type size itself. And that just gives it a little bit of air, a little bit of breathing room.
Keep in mind when you're looking at type, I mean when you're looking really at any image on a page, you're going to see the positive lines of things, that's the print area. Keep in mind to look at the negative as well. That's the non-print area, but there's definitely a channel there that your eye can see and those sides, those sizes have correlation to one another. So I think we have a great slide here. Beautifully done.
To my eye, this is a perfect table. What I like about it is one, it's super easy to read. The type is crystal clear. "Today's Agenda" off to the side and then this, just this simple list of times throughout the day. I like that the type is, that each line of type fits its box. It's not too small for its box, like a fish swimming in an aquarium. It's not too big and crowding the space that it has, but rather each line has just been given the right amount of space.
I like that the colors are very low contrast and I like that the two, it's all just kind of a monochromatic theme and I like that the two lines in the lighter tint are all it takes to break those two pieces out and make them special. I would call this, wow. I would call this the perfect table. It did exactly what needs to be done and no more and no less.
I love this slide. There's a beautiful sensitivity to typography and to simplicity to... There's just a single thought on the slide that is so important and the entire segment of the presentation pivots on that thought, so it works, it's on the wall, you read it very quickly and it works as a memory hook. I love the sensitivity to the type in that he has light type and bold type combined and then it's signed at the bottom with a line of, basically of small caps.
There's not a list of bullet points, there's no animation, there's no splashy colors, there's no special effects. I can't overstate the clarity and professionalism of this. You're slideshow really is not a song and dance. This is a perfect slide. I mentioned Source Sans as the company typeface. I think Source Sans is a great pick, especially for presentations because it is unusually readable. It's also new, it's crisp.
Let me show you a few of the things that make it readable. Let's zoom in here. And... The type on the top is Helvetica. That's a very common... It's widely used typeface for presentations. It is similar to Arial, that is also very widely used, but it's a more complicated typeface than Source Sans, which you see on the bottom. If we look just at the cap R, you can see this curvy leg coming out of...
The main body of the R, where in Source Sans, it's simply straight. With the E in Helvetica, you have an oval that almost completely closes. This channel in here is very small, where in Source Sans, this is more egg-shape. Kind of a wiggly line. And much more open here. So there's a lot more white and as this type gets smaller, that amount of space in there becomes important.
The A, similarly in Helvetica is actually pretty sensuous. It's a very curving A... With curves coming off of curves. But because of that, it's fairly complex. Oh and it also closes here, just like the E did. Where you can see with Source Sans, this is a much simpler line. This area, this counter remains open, the stroke goes straight down, it doesn't curl like this and...
The bowl comes straight off the vertical stroke. So it's just a simpler typeface. There's less to it. And you can see that particularly when we zoom back from a little bit. Both those typefaces are readable, but Source Sans is more readable, there's less detailing, it's more open and it will continue to be more readable the smaller it gets. Which brings up another thing: You want to size your type for the room you're in. We were all in a pretty small space.
There was, you know, the back of the room was pretty close to the screen and so type could be pretty small, but if you're in a typical auditorium, your type, the smallest type you put on that screen needs to be big. The next slide up, I really like, this is obviously from a template. "Next Play", the round photograph and Ryan's name are all centered in there, but still there was some sensitivity here in a couple things. One, Morty brought the cover or the lead slide, scenic, into this.
This will work as the theme for the entire slide deck as well as for the entire week. That sunset picture just became the anchor point for the week. The second thing I'd like you to notice is that the color of "Next Play" and Ryan's name is the same color of the background of the basic slide. It sounds simple, but not everyone would know to do that. What it does is create continuity from one slide to the next.
I love this slide. How simple can you get, yet it's completely engaging. Typographically, it's like a break in the program, it's a point of relief. It doesn't look like the others other than it's typeface. But it retains a simplicity. It's just a single question. The audience gets a small break and then we move on. Finally, hard to believe this is from a template, although it is. It's gorgeous, it's a bit abstract and it's so engaging.
By having... Almost nothing going on, everything is going on. It keys us up for what the presenter is about to say. This is just a beautiful slide. So that's a quick look, six good slides from a good slide deck. Again, keep in mind simplicity. Keep in mind beauty. There's some truly beautiful slides in here and if you can do that, great, without creating a song and dance or animation or effects or that kind of thing, those are not beautiful things.
That's the thing to keep in mind. And that's your design for today. See you next time.
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