Principles that guide the Design for PowerPoint slides are quite different from the principles that guide print design. Learn the 7 essential differences and make your Slide Design more effective.
Most of us are self-taught designers when it comes to designing PowerPoint slides.We picked up our principles from various fields like Print design, Web design and the like.Sometimes, we fail to appreciate the finer differences in the various medium of expression and tend to treat them all the same way.
Here are 7 essential differences between Print design and PowerPoint slide design that help us create more effective slides for our presentations:
1. Print design has space constraints, Slide design doesn’t
When you begin designing for Print, you start by clearly defining the size of the output. You can’t use more space than what you are allowed. There are limitations of space and cost.
So, your main focus is ‘Space optimization’. You always think about ways to say more in less space.
When you design for PowerPoint slides however, you are not limited by space constraints. The cost of adding a new slide is zero. So, you can afford to make just one point on a slide and focus all your effort in making that point as clear as possible.
Designers who think from ‘Print’ perspective can’t come to terms with this ‘freedom’ and end up creating cluttered slides that overwhelm business audience.
2. Print documents are reader led, Slides are presenter led
In print, you realize that a reader has no oneto provide clarification if the message is not clear. So, while designing your print documents you make your message as self-evident as possible.
If you follow the same principle when you design for PowerPoint slides, the presenter becomes redundant. Since slides are only meant to support the presenter, you need to make your decision on what to include on your slides and what to move to the speaker notes.
Be careful not to let the ‘Print’ design habits come in the way of allowing your audience to think and engage with your presentation content.
3. PowerPoint slides gives additional dimension of time
In a printed document all the information is exposed to the reader in one go. The designer doesn’t have too much control in guiding the exposure.
On the other hand, a PowerPoint slide designer has the benefit of using custom animation. Information can be revealed in stages, thereby sustaining the attention of the audience throughout the presentation period.
Designers with ‘Print’ habits don’t leverage the full power of custom animation features to add clarity to their message.
4. Presenters can use ‘Pause’ button
In a printed document, impressions are made fairly fast. If the document looks too complex and boring, the reader may toss the document and move on. There is nothing that a designer can do to revive the loss of attention.
A presenter however has the option to blank out the slide by pressing B or W in the slideshow mode, check the understanding of the audience, engage them with a couple of questions to arouse interest and resume the presentation.
A presenter with ‘print’ thinking doesn’t fully use the power of this ‘pause’ feature while presenting. This affects the effectiveness of presentation delivery.
5. PowerPoint can link to other media
A print document doesn’t have the facility to hyperlink to more information. On the other hand PowerPoint slides can link to other media and programs.
For example, you can link to an excel sheet and do a live ‘If- then’ scenario to help your audience make a decision. You can show a YouTube video in your PowerPoint on product performance. You can connect the presentation to your website and browse the content on screen to demonstrate user friendliness of your site – ‘live’.
If you think only from a ‘Print’ perspective, you don’t plan these interactive elements in your presentations. Read here to know more about inserting flash or Youtube video in your PowerPoint presentation.
6. PowerPoint slide design may have the bad influence of default templates
When you start designing your print document, your software (like Illustrator, Photoshop or Coreldraw) doesn’t bias your thinking with a default template at the start. So, it is rare to see two print brochures looking similar in design.
PowerPoint influences your design thinking with its default templates. There are design themes that are inbuilt, that they are beaten to death in boardrooms. When designing for PowerPoint slides, start with a blank slide template.
If you go by your ‘print’ habits, you stand to gain here, by breathing in creativity and freshness in your design. If you succumb to default templates, your presentations gets lost in the host of clones.
7. Fancy typography affects transferability of your presentation
In Print design, we worship typography. We understand and appreciate the nuances and uniqueness of every font and font family.
In PowerPoint, you may have to let go of your attachment to ‘special’ fonts. Since you may need to email your presentations to those who didn’t attend your presentation – your special PowerPoint font gets replaced.
Your cool ‘Han Solo shadow’ font gets reduced to boring ‘Arial’ font or even ‘Comic sans’, leading to slide content which is messy.
There is an option of embedding fonts; you may want to avoid it in your design for PowerPoint slides, because it increases your file size unnecessarily.
Conclusion about Print Media and PowerPoint Design:
Print design and design for PowerPoint slides are quite different. Treating them the same way will affect the effectiveness of your message.
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