June 13, 2012

An evocative slide show

Something I rarely see at conferences are slides like mine: image-based, minimal text, one idea per slide. So imagine my delight when Kevin Gascoyne started his presentation at the World Tea Expo with the following evocative slides. These are just a few of his slides, and you can instantly get a feel for what he was trying to convey.

Here's what he told me about the design of the slides:

"The idea was to follow the company's 'aesthetic' angle. More of an ambient backdrop behind me where the theme is clear from a key quote, and a pleasing image creates a setting.... I thought the stylish black and white ambient slides would contrast nicely with the colour of the lab results where I did have to focus on the data and there was a risk of things getting a little dry and the back row nodding off."

He also mentioned wanting to aim for a "Secret Garden" feeling, where the movie is in black and white until they enter the garden.

Kevin understands that the slides are there to enhance his content, and to help bring the audience into the world he's creating in his presentation. In this case, he's also bringing the quiet, calming world of his tea shop to an audience thousands of miles away in Las Vegas -- not an easy feat in a fluorescent-lit air-conditioned convention center meeting room!

The only problem with these slides is that they have some readability issues. On some, the text is very small, like on the computer monitor below. That's an easy fix (remember to create your slides with the back row in mind.) And there are a couple of typos and font inconsistencies here and there that are also easy to fix.

On some other slides, however, the text completely blended into the background image due to lack of contrast. The slide below was unreadable during the presentation; later Kevin grayed out the image so the text would show up.

This is one way to go, as long as you don't have to gray out all of your images. I attempted to recreate one of Kevin's slides, to show you another easy fix.

I've put a transparent box (60% opaque, in black) behind the text and made the text white so it stands out. You can also create a box with a gradient that fades out into your image at the top and bottom, easy to do in PowerPoint. You can play with the transparency level (but keep it consistent across all slides) and the color of the box. Be aware that, if you make the box in your PowerPoint slide, it may not work properly on other platforms, like Slideshare.

Image by Habib Shahnoor Munmun

It's not often we see beautiful slides at conferences, and I take my hat off to Kevin Gascoyne for his efforts. With a few tweaks here and there, these slides would also be more readable and therefore even more effective!

See my previous post about Kevin Gascoyne's presentation here.

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