This week we’ll look at the third piece of Reynolds’ book that explores the design process of a presentation. Simplicity is a key idea found in the Zen arts such as the tea ceremony or haiku. As we explore these chapters, you’ll realize that simplicity doesn’t necessarily mean easy, in fact, it’s hard. While simple solutions are not the easiest to find for the presenter, they’ll be the easiest to use and process for the end user.
Amplify the Meaning
The use of slides and visuals in your presentations should be used to help tell your story; they should flow naturally with your talk rather than be a distraction to what you’re saying. Choose visuals that are powerful and produce greater clarity for your audience. Visuals should evoke emotion for your audience and help make your words memorable. Reynolds highlights three concepts in Zen to keep in mind when considering design in a presentation: Kanso (simplicity), Shizen (naturalness), and Shibumi (elegance). Think open space and careful reduction of the non-essentials to obtain simplicity in your design.
A good picture is worth a thousand words—this is an important element in the design process for presentations. Use slides and visuals that contain images that direct the eye to the important elements of your presentation. Images are a powerful and natural way to communicate and can significantly increase your audience’s retention of your presentation. A good quote can also enhance your credibility and will be more effective than a long list of bullet points to read on the screen. Project Zen suggests four principles that are important in slide and presentation design:
- Contrast – This helps the viewer focus on the point quickly. It can be achieved through the use of space, color choices, text selection, or positioning of the slides images and elements.
- Repetition – Use the same or similar elements throughout your design to create a sense of unity, consistency and cohesiveness.
- Alignment – Every element of your presentation should connect with an “invisible line.” Your audience may not be aware of this concept, but the end result will be a sense of unity and quick understanding.
- Proximity – Your audience should never question what graphic or image belongs with which text or subtitle. Look at your presentation and evaluate if things are grouped together, that it appears organized, and consider the path that your eye naturally takes.
What is the end result you want to achieve through your presentations? Hopefully you want the information you present to stick; to be something people remember as they walk out your doors and into their every day lives. In creating a design for your presentation, the effective and strategic use of visuals and images will help create a memory of the story you present and the bottom line of your message.
Think on This
Consider an upcoming presentation: What images or visuals could you use to enhance your message? Why are images so important in making a presentation memorable? What are you communicating in the design of things in your ministry? (Think of things such as your lesson presentations, hard copy communication pieces, websites, or even your room design.) How can you make your message memorable for the kids, students, and families you’re ministering to each week?