Presentation Skills 2/3

Presentation Skills 2/3

Visual Design
By the end of this lesson, you are expected:
– To be able to improve a message with visuals;
– To understand how to design slides;
– To practice slide design.
What is the acronym (and words) used about “making a message stick”?
When designing the content of your message, use preferably what sticks:

Simple: Simplicity helps at many stages and, most important, it tells you what to say.
Unexpected: Pay attention
Concrete: Understand and remember
Credible: Believe and agree
Emotional: Care
Story: Act

How not to use Visuals…

We have all used PowerPoint and failed, at times, miserably at conveying our points.

This lesson will focus on how to create visuals that support the content design and we’ll address some other visual tools.

You can watch this 4-min video later on in the additional material section.
Link to the video:
Presentation Zen Concept

The mission of Presentation Zen is simple: to rid the world of bad PowerPoint. And “bad” goes beyond aesthetics. The book’s message is bigger: Our presentations – our lessons – are boring. We take material that once stirred us so much, and we reduce it to dry, uninspired text, effectively sucking the soul right out of it. And when we present, we read straight from those soul-sucking slides.

Let’s commit to better messaging and discover some of the key principles to improve listeners’ experience.

You can watch this video later on in the additional material section.
Link to the video:
The ideas were Restraint, Simplicity, Naturalness
Visuals for Who?

Are your visuals an extension of your notes or are they meant to be informative for the audience?

A presenter must be focused outward, on the needs of the audience, rather than on his/her own needs, and also has to consider designing visuals which will benefit their specific audience.

Get rid of the mirror!

Design Principles to create Slides

Here are seven interconnected design principles that are fundamental to good slide design.*

Pick the ones you are interested in. You will be able to study the rest later on.
Empty Space

Images can be used to help guide your viewer’s eyes through a slide to the most important elements.

The empty space allows for the appreciation of a single item. It is the empty space that gives a design air and lets the positive elements breathe.

Signal vs Noise Ratio

The Signal-to-Noise Ratio (SNR) is a principle borrowed from more technical fields such as radio communications and electronic communication in general. For our purposes, the SNR is the ratio of relevant to irrelevant elements or information on a slide or other display.

The goal is to have the highest signal-to-noise ratio possible in your slides; to maximise the ratio of relevant to irrelevant information in a display. In other words, to keep out the non-essential elements for audience’s understanding.

There is simply a limit to a person’s ability to process new information efficiently and effectively. Understanding can be hard enough without the excessive and the non-essential bombardment by our visuals that are supposed to be playing a supportive role. Aiming for a higher SNR is an attempt to make things easier for people.

Picture Superiority Effect

The picture superiority effect says that pictures are remembered better than words, especially when people are casually exposed to the information.

Use the picture superiority effect to improve the recognition and recall of key information. Use pictures and words together, and ensure that they reinforce the same information for optimal effect.

The effect is strongest when the pictures represent common, concrete things, and is connected to related words.

You can access the video and the link later on in the additional material section.

Contrast is one of the most powerful design concepts of them all because really any design element can be contrasted with another.

Contrast simply means difference. We are scanning and looking for similarities and differences all the time. Contrast is what we notice, and it’s what gives a design its energy. So you should make elements that are not the same clearly different, not just slightly different.


The principle of repetition simply means the reusing of the same or similar elements throughout your design.

Repetition of certain design elements in a slide or among a deck of slides will bring a clear sense of unity, consistency, and cohesiveness.


The whole point of the alignment principle is that nothing in your slide design should look as if it were placed there randomly. Every element is connected visually via an invisible line.

Alignment is about obtaining unity among elements of a single slide and throughout the presentation.


The principle of proximity is about moving things closer or farther apart to achieve a more organised look. The principle says that related items should be grouped together so that they will be viewed as a group, rather than as several unrelated elements.


Great design is not just limited to the realm of professional designers. With limited time, you, too, can apply a bit of design problem-solving to your slides by using signal vs noise ratiopicture superiorityempty spacecontrastrepetitionalignment, and proximity. These tools can greatly impact not only your design but your audience as well.

Video illustrating how visuals can reinforce the message (6 minutes).
You can watch it later if you don’t have time.
Alternatives to PowerPoint

The design tips shared were illustrated with PowerPoint though the principles can be used on any visual platform.

Here is a list of PowerPoint alternatives which come with features that can impress your audience:
– Physical Objects
– Prezi
– Knovio
– Apple Keynote

10 Presentation tools to win over your audience:
Jim Rohn Sứ mệnh khởi nghiệp