Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up your slide deck, part of Designing a Presentation (2013).
There are lot of different things you need to consider when you are setting up the slide deck for your presentation. Now this is an exactly mapping out the presentation itself, or even talking about the colors or fonts or anything like that. This is just the mechanics of that all, and so here's something that you need to consider. Number one is the projector; what type of machine is actually going to be projecting your message to the audience it's watching. There are several different factors involved here, and we'll talk about those in just a minute. Second, and probably most importantly, is the screen real estate or resolution that you're going to have to work with.
There are a wide range of screen sizes and projector sizes out there today, and you need to know exactly which type of resolution is going to be present in the room that you're giving your presentation. Otherwise you might design a slide deck that is completely the wrong size or aspect ratio does look unprofessional while you are giving the presentation. You also need to know where your audiences going to be loacted while they are wtaching the presentaion. This is going to be a big consideration on how you structure the presentation. How big the fonts are. How big the images are. How many bullets are on each slide. How you move and interact with the slides while you're giving the presentation based on the orientation of the audience relative to the screen. All of these things are very important.
Finally, the subject matter. This includes how much information you have in the slide and all different types of different variables that you need to consider. But we'll get to that in just a minute. First off, let's talk about the Projector. Is it HD or SD? Meaning high definition or standard definition. HD projectors are still sort of in their infancy right now, but you do see them from time to time. So you need to know if you need to be designing for high definition experience. Does the projector provide a 16.9 or 4 by 3 aspect ratio? This is basically like saying, do you have an old CRT monitor, or do you have a new flat screen, wide screen monitor? So you need to figure this out because how you structure the presentation in terms of template size really depends on aspect ratio.
When in doubt, you need to ask the IT guy. Every place you go to to give a presentation, whether it's at your own office or at a hotel conference center, has an IT guy. This is going to be your point of contact in finding out all the information that you need to know about the projector and system that you're going to be working with. Screen resolution is probably the most important thing to understand about designing a presentation. Because we want to design for the exact size and shape of the screens that we're going t obe howcasing our presentation on.
So these are some common screen sizes that we have available to us. 800 by 600 is probably one of the more common ones that I see from time to time when I'm out in the field giving presentations. Unfortunately this is the smallest resolution and some older hotels and conference centers still use this resolution for their projectors. This is going to be the most cramped and small presentation you've ever created if you run across this, but you just have to make due with what you have 1024 by 768 is becoming more and more the standard of today. 1024 by 768 is just like a standard wallpaper size for older computer monitors.
And this is actually what you see probably 9 times out of 10 when you go to modern conference centers. 1280x720 should be considered a luxury, in my opinion. Now, I just spoke at several conferences this year where most of the big time conferences are moving to a 1280x720 setup. The projectors are getting better and better at doing this, so 1280x720 I think will slowly become the new standard going forward but we can't really rely on that just yet. 1980 by 1020 that's a pipe dream for me personally because I really want that to be standard and I'm sure at some point it will whenever everybody in the world has these 30 inch high definition displays.
But as of right now I've only seen this a handful of times in really, really modern conference situations. So I wouldn't bank on ever seeing that If you're just doing some general conference sessions or presentations to groups and people like that in your business. So, these are the screen sizes that you need to remember. These are the screen sizes you need to make sure you know about, and these are the presentations you need to make sure you create themes for. So, 800 by 600, 1024 by 768. 1280 by 720 and 1980 by 1020. The next consideration is where is your audience going to be. Now, this could be different depending on where you are. If you're at work, if you're at a conference, if you're at a hotel, it doesn't matter where you are, the audience set-up is always going to be different. Here's some examples that I've come across in my line of work. So the first one is just a standard classroom set-up. You're there in the front, that's the little square. And then the rest of these are just tables with people seated behind them. The screen is most likely behind you or you have one on either side of you, that way both sides of the room can equally see this.
This would allow you to actually have a smaller screen size. 1024 by 1768 for instance, if you had two screens, that way both sides could see it equally. That would also change the amount of information and font size and image size that you would have on the presentation as well. The next one is more of a big style conference setup, you're right in front of the screen, the screen is projected behind you, very large, almost like a movie theater like setup. People don't have tables necessarily they just are seated right like this, and this is actually one of the more common ones that I see at bigger conferences. This allows you to have big, bold graphics, big bold typography, but it does not allow you to have a small defined list of bullet points and things like that, so if you're really trying to get into a technical presentation, this is probably not the best set up for you.
This is one of the more common room you see in the corporate world, it's kind of a boardroom setup. You're going to be seated somewhere around her controlling probably a TV somwhere on the wall. So you need to be considerate of of the fact that some of your audience members may or may not be able to actually see the presentation while you're giving it. Meaning that you should keep your information scarce on the presentation slides themselves, and just know it by heart so that you can convey that information to them. And they could take notes or write it down, or whatever they need to do. Here's another common horse shoe like setup, where you on the front you got a podium may be of to the one side, you got a desk up there, if you need to do a demo in one single screen.
This screen is usually push back a little further and so the people in the back of the room have a little bit of a harder time seeing smaller point text. Are there any needs for photos and videos in your presentation.
And will you need audio in your presentation. These are all important bullet points that you need to keep in mind while setting up your slide deck because how much info you have to cover determines just how big each slide needs to be. Or how much info needs to be on each slide. If we're trying to follow the rules of good presentation design, we're trying to keep the amount of slides to a minimum. While also trying to keep the amount of info on each slide at a minimum as well. Remember the presentation needs to be engage and from start to finish. You want to make sure that audience is just drawn in and focus on what you're talking about.
You don't want to bore them to death with nonstop bullet and nonstop information. So you have to consider that and figure out how to structure this deck appropriately. The data. Are you going to be showing a lot of charts and graph? If so, you might want to construct the deck in such a way that you create a theme around this, that has big spaces left for big data points, charts, graph, that kind of thing. Are you going to use a lot of photos and video for this? If so, you need to understand, again, the place where you're presenting. Do they have the ability to show video? Is the setup of the audience conducive to show big things like photos and videos? Sound consideration is also big here.
Do they have an audio system that you can play through inside of wherever it is you're giving this presentation? These are all things you need to learn ahead of time and prepare for. As you start to understand the areas that you go to most often, you'll get a lot of this information already and you'll just know how to set up a presentation based on the area that you're going to. For instance, when I go speak at certain conferences that are at the same place every year, I know automatically what the resolution is. How big my text should be where the audience is going to be seated? Whether or not I'm going to have audio or video support.
And it's just a lot easier that way. It also allows me to do exactly what I'm going to talk about during the last part of this, is using a presentation app and developing templates based on certain areas that you visit. Now, a lot of people design their slides in different applications. Some people use Photoshop, some people use Illustrator, some people use InDesign for instance. But I find that PowerPoint and Keynote are the best applications for designing presentations in the end. Now you can do graphics and all kind of cool things in the other applications, but actually aggregating everything together into a presentation app to finish it off is definitely the way to go because a, if you’re not able to use your computer at the place where you’re giving this presentation.
You may actually have to have your presentation in one of these formats to use on the machine that they have for you. And, B, you also need to make sure that whatever app you're building this in has the ability to quickly and easily switch screen or slide size. Both of these applications have the ability to instantly switch from, let's say, 1024 by 768 to 1280 by 720, allowing you to create different templates for different venues. And that's my final point. Create your self-templates. You should have one theme that you use consistently and you need to have that theme in several different formats. 800 by 600, 1024 by 768, 1280 by 720 and also in a super HD format what ever that may be.
So at the end of the day constructing your slide X is a really important piece of the puzzle. Probably more so than even the fonts and colors and images and things like that, that you use. Because, none of that's going to look good if you haven't taken all of this information into consideration. So, review all the points that I've given you here. Write them down. Start building your own template. And prepare yourself to build slidedecks for several different applications and venues.
- Exploring the tools of the trade
- Setting up a slide deck
- Developing a slide theme with fonts, images, and colors
- Creating a storyboard
- Choosing software
- Using images as backgrounds
- Exploring the rules of slide typography
- Building charts and graphs
- Creating text and image focal points
- Effectively using animations and transitions