Whether you’re giving a speech with a visual aid, a flash talk, or a full-length conference presentation, you’ll most likely want a visual aid to support your presentation. Often these visual aids are in the shape of a slideshow or “PowerPoint.” Many people think…

…but DesignLab can help you develop your visual aid to engage with your audience and have a dynamic presentation!

There are two main ways of creating a presentation:

  1. Linear presentations, are a series of numbered slides that often contain bullet-pointed text, pictures, and clipart, and may include some minor animations. This is the standard way of developing presentations and may be organized with an outline or narrative story structure.
  2. Non-Linear presentations, sometimes called “spatial presentations” are intended to situate information in different contexts as well as represent processes and relationship in compelling ways. Non-linear presentations may have a logical flow or plan, but are intended to have a less-strict structure, so the speaker can change course as audience moves them.

There are also many reasons why someone may need to create a presentation:

Seminar/Class Presentation – These sorts of presentations are typically linear and vary in length, usually about 5-15 minutes, but maybe as long as 30 minutes. These types of presentations are intended to do one or both of the following: 1) Show your instructor you understand the material and can distill it into a shorter and different medium than a paper and/or 2) Facilitate a discussion among your classmates/colleagues regarding your research/ideas. Either way, a well designed visual aid will benefit your audience! Keep your text short and your visuals clear and easy to understand.

Conference Presentation – Typically presenting new research or updating colleague of the progress in a project, these presentations can vary significantly in length. One of the biggest things to remember about conference presentations is not to overwhelm your audience with too much text or too complicated visuals. Keep the slides simple and the visuals accessible. If you’ve never given a conference presentation before, talk to a colleague, mentor, or advisor for their recommendations and/or to see an example of their past slideshows. Your organization may also have their own template or required colors and logos. For example, UW-Madison has an entire website for their brand that has UW templates for presentations, as well as recommended colors and fonts to use.

Instruction / Teaching – As opposed to Conference or Seminar/Class presentations, when making slides to teach a class, it is common to have lots of texts and visuals. These slides are likely the basis for student notes, so having a more full/complete slide will benefit the audience. Still, don’t be afraid to use simple appear animations to not overwhelm your students.

Flash Talks – Flash talks, are shorter linear presentation styles, that focuses on distilling information quickly to an audience. These are a common type of class presentation. Typically flash talks are 5 minutes or less, and use a limited number of slides. Below are some unique flash talk styles:

  • PechaKucha-style Flash Talks: Officially, PechaKucha is a trademarked linear presentation format consisting of 20 slides that are mostly images, each shown automatically for 20 seconds, and accompanied by spoken text and sound effects. At 6 min, 40 sec total, presentations present ideas in a clear, engaging, and efficient manner. Pecha-Kucha presentations are usually delivered live but can also be recorded. Some PechaKucha-style variants include less slides.
  • Ignite-style Flash Talks: Another trademarked form of auto-advancing flash talks, like PechaKucha, these presentations also have 20 slides, but with 15 second intervals, making them slightly shorter. Some Ignite-style variants include less slides.

Voiced-Over Slideshow – These presentations are meant to be entirely visual, with little to no text on a slide. They are often pre-recorded, but can be performed live. The focus of the audience is meant to be entirely on the visuals and not the speaker.

Presentation Design Tip:

Avoid using the built in templates in PowerPoint and Google Slides. They are easily recognizable. You want to make sure your presentation is memorable, so looking like everyone else’s does not help make your presentation look unique.

A well-designed presentation that uses visuals effectively will keep your audience engaged. Get some eyes on your presentation before you present it by meeting with one of our DesignLab consultants!

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Recorded vs. Live Presentations

This section is coming soon.


Linear Animated Presentation (Recorded)

How to Give an Awesome (PowerPoint) Presentation

Flash Talk: Pecha-Kucha-Style (Recoreded)

How to Make a Pecha Kucha by Marcus Weaver-Hightower

Flash Talk: Ignite-Style (Recorded)

Why and How to Give an Ignite Talk by Scott Berkum

Non-Linear Presentation (Google Slides)

Swimming by Drew Bernstein

Instructional Videos

Designing (Live) Presentations

Designing Recorded Presentations