Presentation Design – Why is “Good” So Rare?

Your job as a presentation designer is to make ideas into visual images. For your presentations to unambiguously require the least possible effort on the part of your audience to “get it”. The difference between a visual that works and one that fails is good design.

To appreciate of how good design adds to the quality of our lives, it helps to look at some examples of truly bad design that we all deal with on an everyday basis. Bad design abounds, and everyday our lives are a little less pleasant for it.

The really unfortunate thing about poorly designed objects is that countless unpleasant times might have been spared if only the designer had thought through his or her approach a little more thoroughly. The line between good and bad design is often fine. It can be no more than positioning a button in a spot not easily accessed by mistake; a label placed where it could actually be seen before the wrong action is taken; a multi-step process where you don’t have to get to step seven before you realize you did step three wrong; or a lever or handle shaped more like the movement it wants you to make.

When you acquire a more developed sensitivity to design, you begin to look at all things with questions such as, “Might it have been better to do it this way?”, or “What would it have taken to make it work like this?”

Then take a look at the last presentation you delivered. Do you suppose there were elements that caused even temporary confusion? And then when you explained the element, did they say, “Oh I get it – but why didn’t you just say it this way?”?

All bad designs cause the expenditure of more effort to produce the same result. The more effort it takes to absorb your message the less energy is available for processing the message itself. Effort causes discomfort. In the presentation environment, that can mean disaster because -for the very same reason- discomfort leads to disassociation from the message. That’s why professional trainers make certain the learning environment is as comfortable as possible – fresh water, good seats, frequent breaks. “The mind can only absorb what the buttocks can endure” is old but still relevant. Bad presentation design is a pain in the ass, and it stops message uptake just as quickly.

Now let’s step back from presentations for a few moments.

Think about the various devices – electrical, mechanical, architectural, digital, whatever – that you use or come in contact with on a daily or weekly basis. Keep in mind that anything manufactured for human consumption was first designed by a human. You know that some humans are more talented than others. If you’re like most people, you have probably been annoyed or frustrated with a device than was designed by one from the less talented group.

Next time you use your hair-dryer, notice whether the high-low switch works the way you would expect, or to affect a High setting you need to push the switch to its Lower position. Can you get water into and coffee out of your drip-style coffee-maker without dripping any of either? Where does your refrigerator spew more ice – into your glass or onto the floor? Can your friends operate your microwave without your showing them how?

Discussing how design affects our everyday lives is purposeful in getting you to think very hard about how your presentation designs affect the people you subject them too, and why it is worth the effort to do them well. And although it is kind and thoughtful to design in ways that enhance, rather than detract from, the quality of your audience’s experience, the bottom line is simple: good design goes down easier. You need every opportunity to get your audience on your side, and you must allow nothing in your control to discomfort the people you’re trying to persuade. As Edward Tufte says, “audiences are fragile; respect them”.

One last sad truth about bad design is that so many people who are frustrated by things that don’t work think it’s their fault! When people don’t understand what they’re told, or audiences don’t understand what they see on the screen, they often blame themselves – they believe that they’re either stupid or slow or perhaps they simply learn in other ways.

Ask yourself: Do your presentations have a less-than-evident “operating system?” Before someone can get your message (the function of your presentation) do they first have to learn and comprehend your design?

Your main goal when designing a presentation should be to keep your audience’s attention on your idea, your pitch, your proposal—your message. They should never be distracted by, or even really aware of, your design. Dazzling them with bells and whistles will help them remember the bells and whistles, not your message. You need to make your message the star so that nothing takes their minds away from it.

Your audience has gone to some effort to let you speak your piece. Thank them for showing up by rewarding them with good design.

New Rules for Financial Industry Preventing Potential Plagiarism to Public in Penned Presentations

There is a lot of talk about plagiarism online and in our schools. Regulators both private and public are cracking down in many industries, especially when it comes to securities and investments or those claiming to be experts and selling their advice via consulting or management fees.

In fact, the latest group of industry professionals to be warned about leading their customers to believe that they wrote something that they did not is Financial Advisors and Stockbrokers. Apparently, many investors are supposedly led to believe that they are experts when in actuality they send out emails, letters and notes using verbiage that was created for them by mutual fund companies, annuity firms or wire houses.

One gentleman, who wished not to be named told me that his brokerage firm sent him this little notation to remind him not to send out anything that was not from him or might lead the client to believe that he wrote it when he did not. Here is what his firm sent him from their compliance department:

We take this opportunity to remind all of our brokers and advisors that you may not present yourself as the author of any communication with the public if you are not in fact the author of the material. Credit must be given to the person or party that created the material. Although some vendors have stated that advisors may insert their name within a communication so that it appears the advisor is the author, FINRA has made it clear that this practice is considered misleading to the public because it attempts to establish expertise or credibility and may violate NASD Rules 2110, 2210 and 2120. No advisor should claim authorship of a communication, including books and newsletters, unless he or she did in fact author the communication.

It is good that the securities industry is holding themselves above the fray and doing the right thing by preventing plagiarism from their brokers and/or advisors. This is clearly a step in the right direction and it is good to see them stepping up to the plate.

Have an Appealing Presentation Due to an Exhibition Banner Stand

An exhibition banner stand is an excellent tool for those who need to improve their performance at trade shows or conventions. As success at a large scale event is part appearance and part staffing, it is vital that you make every effort to ensure that your presentation is as appealing to your clients as possible. When you participate in a trade show, you have to compete against all of the other businesses for client attention. It is for this reason that it is important that you are very careful about the design of your booth. As trade shows are an excellent venue for cultivating customers, it is vital that you do not allow this chance to go to waste. If you manage to keep the attention of new clients, you will be able to cultivate them more easily.

The first step in selecting an exhibition banner stand is to decide how you are going to use it. Do you need a one use stand that you do not want to keep for future events? If that is the case, you may wish to go with a rental. This allows you to participate in a trade show without having to store a stand for the future. Do you travel often and require a stand that is highly portable? Collapsible stands are the best solution. These are light weight and compact so that you can easily transport them to whatever meeting or presentation you must attend. Finally, there are full trade show stands. These are harder to assemble and disassemble but are designed to be sturdy and long lasting. These stands are often part of modular sets for large scale exhibits. When you are picking out your stand, it is important that you decide based off of what best fits your business needs. This is the only way that you can ensure that you are making the most out of your investment.

Having a high quality exhibition banner stand is not the only thing that you will need to have a successful trade show exhibit. You will need to invest in high quality banners that quickly grab and hold the attention of potential new clients. Holding the attention of potential clients is critical if you want to cultivate new relationships. The reason that this is so important is due to the fact that a client will only remember things that hold their attention for more than a few seconds. As you have the ability to control the atmosphere of an event, it is vital that you do so. This is the only way that you can ensure that your branding efforts are a success.

Once you have purchased your exhibition banner stand and your banners, you need to make certain that you take the time to properly care for your equipment after you have it. After the trade show ends, you need to make certain that you properly store both the stand and the banners. This will ensure that you can use them again in future shows. You should always store your stands and banners in dry places that are not directly exposed to sunlight.