This is slightly off beat for this bank holiday weekend however after reading a post on the 43 folders website about how Merlin Mann made his presentations better it got me thinking of how this technique could be used to improve presentations I have done.

Powerpoint makes it very easy to make presentations quickly, the problem is that they look all the same and do not necessarily use the best techniques for slide layouts.. From sitting through presentation after presentation at University you quickly see the good from the bad. Unfortunately the majority of presentations are bad, they are usually too long, have too much text and don't look nice.

One of my favourite points Merlin Mann makes in his blog post is about using stock images in his presentations. Merlin recommends using iStockPhoto for getting cheap stock images however there are a number of free stock image sites which have great libraries of professional photos. I use the Stock Xchng for almost all my images (like the bubbles at the top of this page) and have found it to be the best free site.

Other good free stock image sites include (from the forum):

http://www.adigitaldreamer.com/gallery/index.php
http://www.kavewall.com/stock/
http://www.stockvault.net/gallery/
http://pstutorialsblog.com/?p=44
http://www.morguefile.com/ (excellent)
http://yotophoto.com/ (excellent)
http://www.everystockphoto.com/ (excellent)
http://stock.deviantart.com/
http://www.imageafter.com/
http://www.photogen.com/
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
http://www.photolib.noaa.gov/
http://www.burningwell.org/
http://backgroundsarchive.com/
http://pdphoto.org/
http://www.public-domain-photos.com/
http://www.wpclipart.com/working/index.html
http://www.unclesamsphotos.com/

In my final year of University we had a group project to discuss digital technology and the motorist. While we got a good mark for the presentation I always thought we could have improved the slides, here are a few improvements based of the techniques Merlin has described.

The original opening slide:

Redesigned slide, I think half the car works very well here:

Original objectives slide:

Redesigned slide, here I removed some unnecessary text:

Original Audi Quattro Slide

Redesigned slide, here I made better use of the graphic as it is the most interesting point:

Finally the destroyed Gatso slide:

Redesigned slide, the border around the image is not needed neither is the title:

When I have removed unnecessary text it is usually because it's either obvious or should be spoken. In Merlin's blog post he links to a couple of presentation methods that are a useful read, the Kawaski method and the Takahashi method.

Hopefully this has given you some ideas for your own slides layout and that well designed slides do not take much more work - just mainly common sense.

Comments

I always use Keynote for presentations which is nice and slick but as you've shown the most effective presentations are the those kept clean and simple. I've noticed there is a growing trend for people to cut presentations down to just a handful of slides or even not use a computer at all. I guess the can distract the viewer away from the point you are trying to get across.