Flat-pack presentation training…

There’s a great post here by a Garr Reynolds on his ‘presentation zen’ blog on the lessons you can learn from IKEA posters… yep, you heard me right… CLICK HERE for the whole thing, which is well worth looking at, but in summary they are…

(1) Make it visual.
Slides are visual aids, not “text aids,” right? Again, it must be noticed (we notice compelling visuals), understood, and remembered (we remember images). We are visual beings…

(2) One slide, one point.
Don’t be afraid to tell your visual story over many frames.

(3) Make type big. 
As designer Robin Williams says, “Don’t be a wimp!” People are indeed too wimpy when it comes to text on a slide. Have some grapes!

(4) Contrast rules!
 Contrast is perhaps the most important principle of all. You can achieve contrast in many ways, size (big/small) space (near/far), and color (light/dark, warm/cool), etc. IKEA achieves great contrast with color by using a vivid warm color which comes at you (yellow) and a cool color for background (dark blue) on the side of their gigantic building. White and black (the greatest color contrast) is also often used in the IKEA billboards. Although I do not recommend the IKEA brand color scheme (unless you work for IKEA or one of the Swedish Olympic teams), IKEA graphics make good use of contrast.

(5) Don’t be afraid to bleed. 
The frame (billboard or slide, etc.) seems bigger and more engaging when an image is bled over the edge such as those pictured above, as if the entire image is too big to fit. This is a common effect but ignored by many presenters who are careful to keep every element within the slide frame.

(6) Rule of Thirds. 
…usually the eye is drawn to the large image first and then the large display text (although personally I think my eye goes to the type first, but I’m oddly attracted to fat and clean sans-serif typefaces). There are many more examples of the rule of thirds applied to slides in Presentation Zen (pp.151-152) and in Slide:ology (p.161)

(7) Empty space. 
The rule of thirds is useful for achieving a more balanced look that utilizes empty space. Others will tell you to fill that empty space for myriad reasons including that “it looks more serious” if every bit of the slide is filled with text, data, and images. Resist the urge to add more. There are no prizes given for making your slides as dense as possible (besides, the competition for that dubious honor is fierce anyway). See this recent Dilbert comic on this issue.

(8) Have a visual theme. 

The IKEA signs are all different but they are clearly from the same “brand” and follow a theme, yet there is no decorative template. For slides you do not need to follow a pre-packaged template found in the software, but there does need to be a visual theme. This can be achieved by using the same typeface, the same genre of photography, same background color, and so on. You do not have to use your company logo on every slide, however. If you don’t have a visual theme across a slide deck, putting your logo on every slide to “tie ’em together” will not help much and it may just imply that your visual brand is one big mess tied together with the ubiquitous logo. Keep it simple.