10 Steps to Your Success

Create and Use Visuals

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Many business people today are expected to create their own presentations. If you are one of those people, this step will help you make effective, professional-looking screens. Take this checklist and make sure your screens meet these guidelines.

  1. Use readable, consistent typeface. Use sans serif fonts (Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica) for the text on your slide. You can use serif fonts (Times New Roman, Courier) for the titles. What’s the difference? This sentence is in Times New Roman and you can see all the curly cues on each letter. This sentence is in Arial and you can see the letters are clearer. Numbers with serif fonts are especially difficult to read on a screen.
  2. Limit the text to a few phrases on a screen. A good rule of thumb is six lines down and six words across. Certainly you may have a couple slides of eight lines but don’t make those screens the standard.
  3. Write phrases, not sentences. If you put sentences on your screens, you have nothing to add. Use the phrases as cues to remind you about the additional comments you will add. If you just read the words on your slides and don’t add anything, you will bore your audience.
  4. Put one heading on each screen. As soon as you and your audience see the screen the heading should make it clear as to the point of that slide. Put the company logo, department, product name etc. on the bottom of the slide or on the left-hand side of the screen. Better yet, leave out extraneous information not needed on a slide.
  5. Vary the look of the screens. Lay out a hard copy of your screens and make sure there’s a variety of looks throughout the presentation. Use tables to compare information, photos to show products, charts to explain trends and text phrases as a last resort.
  6. Use parallel structure on each screen. Have every bullet begin with a verb. Or have every phrase begin with a noun. This structure of the phrases makes it easy for you to link from point to point.
  7. Keep the background simple. You want a background that shows off your information. Customize your background in some manner so it doesn’t look like it came straight off a template from one of the software programs. If you have a photo-type background do not use it when showing charts and numbers. Be sure numbers are readable against the background.
  8. Use color with care. Choose colors for your screen that convey the appropriate message. Using red in a financial presentation does not convey stability and prosperity. Red has the image of danger. Most business presentations are limited in the color combinations. You usually cannot go wrong with a blue background.

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