The Art and Science of Creating Great Slides

I wanted to share a little bit of wisdom I gathered over the years, to help you build solid slides for your next presentation.  These tips won’t get you invited on stage to a TED talk, but they may help you convince a customer, or win an argument with your team.  Here it is!

  • There has to be a natural visual and cognitive flow from slide to slide
    • Visual flow
      Context switching is very costly for viewers to follow your presentation.
      Every time you change visual aspect, you force their brain to perform an adjustment taking them away from the content and what you say.

      • Consistent slides layout from one to the other:
        • Position of the title.
        • Size of the fonts.
        • Spacing between lines.
        • Position and alignment of the graphs.
        • Colors.
        • Type of icons, illustrations and graphs need to be consistent in their style, size and color.
      • Usage of punctuation must be consistent.
    • Cognitive flow
      The viewer should never feel lost.

      • Start with the big picture and slowly drill into details.
      • Slide titles match agenda items.
      • If you have sections, people need to understand in what section the slide belongs to.
      • Be consistent in your use of inflected forms of the verbs (base, -s, -ing, etc.).
  • Information density
    • Have a consistent information density on all slides.
    • It is pretty obvious when there is too much on a slide. Rework the content, break-it between multiple slides until you are satisfied.
    • Too little info in a slide with large blanks is… too little. It usually means you need to re-organize your slides and group information.
    • Use animations as necessary
      • Simple animations are the best. They should not be distracting from the content.
      • They can help to focus viewers’ attention.
    • Easy to read, short sentences.
      Actually, move away from full sentences as much as possible. Few exceptions are ok such as mission statements and quotes.
  • Visuals
    • Graphs
      • Always a title; Always a legend.
      • All fonts must be large enough for easy reading.
      • Don’t mix some 2D and then 3D graphs.
      • Combine multiple data points in a single graph when possible, to make data comparison and interpretation easier.
    • Screenshots & Images
      • Ensure you take a high resolution screenshot so that it looks sharp when resized.
      • Crop to just what viewers must see.
      • Ensure that colors match your overall slides palette.
        PowerPoint has some good features to re-colorize pictures or any type of icon.
    • Illustrations / Smart art
      • Again, keep a consistent color palette.
      • They must look really pro. It is easy to quickly create some arrows, and things of that sort, that don’t look so good.
    • Tables
      • Not too much information and not too little. It is an art but you can tell when you can compare a good looking from a bad looking table.
      • Use the same colors for all tables in your document.
      • Style and amount of info in each cell must be consistent across most cells.
    • Fonts
      • Don’t use fonts that are really large and bullets/sentences flowing on multiple lines.
      • Stay away from large bold or colored elements to bring attention. Usually means you have long sentences hiding the rest of the info. It also really takes away the viewer attention from anything else.
  • Grammar and orthography
    • With all the tools at our disposal, we have no excuse.

 

What are your tips to improve slides?

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Rice pudding in layers — Cooking Without Limits

From the traditional rice pudding, I prepared a beautiful dessert in layers with vanilla and chocolate. Sanna Tiisanoja from Sanna Essential Oils sent me a while ago some essential oils to use in my kitchen. I used the lemon one for this dessert and I loved it. With only just a drop of it, I […]

via Rice pudding in layers — Cooking Without Limits

A bientôt la France !

I knew the month would fly, and it did!

I am bringing the boys to the airport tomorrow morning. Need to be up at 3am!!!!
I had not spent a full straight month with them for a long time, and now I won’t see them for a month 😦

It has been another great week in any case, and we did a few things I had never done before such as the “Visite Insolite” of the Basilique in Lyon with absolutely outstanding 360 view of Lyon (merci, André !). We also did a treasure hunt in the old Lyon and the boys really enjoyed running from one place to the other.

These last few days were also the chance to see some friends, and a trip to the medieval village of Pérouges. Perfectly preserved. A great stop if you are in the area. One of my friends reminded me that their specialty is fried grenouilles. I love these!!!

This morning, I got up early to go get croissants at the nearby village. Always such a pretty walk and I saw some beetles (?) copulating. They were actually completely still. Nonetheless, quite an exercice when you have to hold to leaves :=)

Chatting with the baker he told me that he was up at midnight to start the work. I thanked him to allow us to get our treats in the morning. Poor man seemed to be already exhausted at 8am!

Two more days and Amanda and I are in Venice.

 

 

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Model X in the médiéval village of Pérouges. When latest technology meets history…

 

 

Collage Brullioles Nature

Morning walk to the village

 

La Vogue

We have a tradition every summer we go in France, we attend “la vogue” aka, the carnival. In the nearby village my parents live, it happens around bastille day every year. It is something the kiddos look forward and this year was no exception. I might be looking forward to it as much as them, especially driving the bumper cars! We also get to eat churros and win a few worthless toys from shooting balloons with a small rifle. Memories for life!

Countryside remains as gorgeous as ever as well, and I don’t get tired of my daily hikes by wheat fields and hay rolls.

Vogue

The sun is very manageable, in the shade

Noah, my older one, has been perfectly happy to hang out with his friends all day since the second day at the Club Med. And when I say all day, it’s really all day: from 7:30am to midnight. Good thing I don’t take that personally! I think it’s safe to say that he enjoys the Club Med.

Thomas is about the opposite and I have to force him a bit to go to the junior club from time to time. He is more happy hanging out with me or playing most of the day by the pool.

My own routine is well set with tennis lesson in the morning, followed by pool and some water games the club organizes (water polo, races…), lunch, catamaran, more pool, siesta, more pool, dinner, Scrabble. It turns out that I don’t completely suck at Scrabble, as I did one of my first scrabble combined with multiple words. Should have taken a pic!

My notation of that particular Club Med (Cargèse, Corsica) has gone a little bit down. Without AC, and without screens on the windows to protect from the mosquitos, it’s a furnace in the bedroom and it is very, very difficult to sleep. I gave the feedback. Let’s see if they will fix that in the future (though low likelyhood I go back to this one).

I have been super proud of Noah who joined a show with the Club Med and was the MC. First time he ever did Something like that and was, very objectively 🙂 amazing!

After 9 days of intense sun and farniente, it’s time to fly back to my parents where we are finishing the month of July!

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Corsica discovery continues

It was time to discover Corsica from above and below the sea!

For these past couple of days, we went for a boat day trip that allowed us to discover large areas of Corsica protected under UNESCO, and got a scuba diving initiation. 

The boat trip made me realize how mountainous is this island. It’s literally a huge chain of high and fairly new mountain that is out of water. It really makes for spectacular views from sea.

The scuba diving was super fun with the boys. We were lucky to have a slightly overcast day so we would not cook in our wet suits while waiting. Though this is not the same colorful underwater views of the Caribbean, spending that time with the boys was fantastic. Noah had the best time as you can tell from his huge grin getting back on the boat!

Club Med, Cargese, beautiful Corsica

It had actually been a long time that I had not had a vacation with the combination of hot temperatures, sandy beach, and warm and clear water. And you know what, it is exquisite!

It is only matched by the beauty of Corsica. The dryness of the climate, combined with the alpine style mountains diving all the way to the waters, picturesque old villages and countless picture card beaches, are just fantastic.

Club Med was also a really good choice for this stay. As soon as you arrive, you realize that there is a lot to do and the question is not what to do but how to organize your days to enjoy the most of all the activities! Though the boys have access to their own children camps, they have so far spent most of the days with me, enjoying Catamaran lessons, archery, or simply soaking the sun. I did a little excursion in the nearby village and, oh boy, it is really cute. No wonder Americans are always on awe when visiting Europe. Nothing like it in North America…

Ah, one tip when you go to Club Med, don’t plan to buy sun block in their little store. At €26, it makes you count each drop you apply, and you need each one with that sun!

Evenings have been filled with good food and board games. We are registered for little boat trips and some scuba diving in next few days. Going to be awesome!