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A Christmas Carol

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4 Important Design Concepts

If you pay attention to these four concepts as you put the visuals together, the end products will be effective.

1) Make it BIG!

Naturally, you'd like everyone in the audience to be able to actually see the visual you plan to use. This is complicated by not always knowing the size of the audience you'll speak to, or the size of the room you'll use.

As a rule of thumb, if it looks right on the computer screen, it's probably too small. If it looks big, it's still too small. Aim for outrageously large. Here are a few hints on estimating appropriate sizes during the design phase . . .

That, by the way is another good reason to plan ahead. If the visuals are done before you actually need them, you can try them out for size and re-do them if necessary.

Make it BIG

2) Keep it Simple

The visuals you use should introduce only the essential elements of concepts you'll discuss. The audience ought be able to get the point of the visual within the first 5 seconds after it appears. During that short period, don't say anything - allow the audience to absorb the information. Then, when you have their undivided attention, expand upon what the slide has to say.

For this approach to be effective, you'll have to include only the most pertinent information in each visual. You should limit the text contained on each visual and restrict the contents of tables or graphs to include only the information most pertinent to your topic. A common pitfall, particularly for those new to the possibilities of computer graphics, is creating artistic rather than useful visuals.

3) Make it Clear

If the information in the visual isn't easy to see or read, the audience will be trying to figure it out instead of listening to what you have to say. That's the first step towards losing

the attention of an audience or confusing them. Bad move . . .

Here are a few hints to help make the information contained on a visual more accessible to the audience. You should consider carefully as you Choose a Font for the text, Select the Size of the Font you'll use, and settle on a Color Scheme.

There is an entire industry out there devoted to creating new and exciting font styles. Feel free to experiment, but the old standards tend to be the most clear and the easiest for an audience to read quickly

One size doesn't fit all.

The decision about what size of font to use is tough. You'll find that the larger the text, the easier it is to see from the back of the room. On the other hand, you'll be able to fit less text on each visual (that isn't necessarily a bad thing). There are two rules of thumb to keep in mind:

* Use one visual to illustrate each concept. Here's a chance to learn more about using visual aids and the progressive disclosure of information to make learning a complex concept easier.

* We tend to see most fonts printed in a 10 - 12 point size, in textbooks and on computer screens. Larger text looks strange, and we tend to overestimate how big text sizes larger than 18 point will actually be when projected onto a screen. If the text looks big enough to be the right size (18-24 point), it's probably too small. Make the text so large that you feel it must be too big (36-48 point) - it will probably be just about right.

Another decision about text size has to do with the text format. There are no rules about whether to left, center, right, or fully justify blocks of text. On the other hand, a mixture of upper and lower case characters is easiest to read.

4) Be Consistent

Your goal in all presentations should be to educate and inform your audience. You won't satisfy this goal if you sidetrack or confuse the audience. Make sure the stages of your presentation, and the visual aids you use, follow a logical sequence. Use transitions to help the audience understand how successive stages are related to each other, and to the big picture.

One effective strategy is to begin and end the presentation with an identical pair of visuals, which summarize the main points you hope to convey



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