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:
- 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.
- 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!
There are also many different software programs that can be used to create visual aids for presentations. Below is a list of the software that we recommend for making a visual aids for presentations. We put the software in order from easiest to use near the top to most difficult near the bottom. We recommend using a software you know well or learning the software well enough to establish an easy workflow, so you can spend less time troubleshooting and spend more time on your poster. Check out our Software Support page for links to tutorials for all of these programs.
Microsoft PowerPoint: This software is available to UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff via Office 365. It is also installed on all the all computer lab machines. Using OneDrive will allow for collaboration between multiple creators. PowerPoint also works with Excel to easily make charts and graphs. This is the standard software for creating slideshows. We recommend installing the desktop version of PowerPoint for the best experience.
Google Slides: This software is available to UW-Madison students, faculty, and staff via Google Workspace for Education. It is a web-based system, so can transition easily between multiple computers regardless of operating systems. Google Slides are also very good for collaboration, as they allow multiple users to edit at one time. This software is based heavily on PowerPoint, and a close second in the industry to PowerPoint. However, it is more limited in functionality as opposed to PowerPoint.
Apple Keynote: This is a proprietary software program that is available only for Apple products. It is installed on all the computer lab machines, both in the labs and for checkout. Keynote does not easily allow for collaboration and files must be saved properly to be compatible with Google Slides or Microsoft Office. We recommend only using Apple Keynote if you *know* you will be presenting from the computer on which the slideshow was made or know you’ll be presenting from a Mac computer.
Canva: This online program has a limited free option, as well as monthly and annual subscriptions at a cost. Many of the functions of Canva are free, but there are certain elements available via a subscription. Canva templates are easier to modify than the other softwares listed above. Files can be exported as PDF or MP4 Video, but can also be presented online directly from Canva (similar to Google Slides).
Prezi: The online presentation software Prezi offers an canvas or whiteboard where text, images, sounds, and videos are placed and then presented by navigating or “zooming” through them. This spatial way of presenting can situate information in different contexts as well as represent processes and relationship in compelling ways. This online program has a limited free option, as well as monthly and annual subscriptions at a cost. There is also educational pricing available. Prezi files are created online and can be presented directly from the online site or be downloaded and presented locally. Explore Prezi with award winning xxamples.
Recorded vs. Live Presentations
This section is coming soon.