Master Presenting

Stop The Awkwardness—Present with Confidence

The Last Word in Slide Design

Epic Slide Project.007I’ve been designing slides for speakers for over twelve years. I’ve seen my share of good attempts and clunky designs, and I’m here to show you the quickest and easiest way to design slides that look beautiful for your audience. In less than an hour, you can have slides you’re thrilled to show off.

Too Many Words

You’ve all heard the cajoling, the statements of “slideuments”, and most presenters have a secret of why they have so many words on their slides—

Speakers use slides as a script so they don’t forget what they say. 

They lean on the bullet points, the many, many bullet points to remember their next line, to read a list, and to fill time. This debilitates our speaking, our connection with the audience because for two reasons. 

First, the audience knows how to read; they are most likely highly literate and they can read the slides themselves, but that leaves us in an awkward of being quiet while they read the slides. Second, if someone doesn’t read the slides and say something else, the audience has to read new information and listen to new information that causes a problem.

Our brain cannot parallel process; it can’t take in two different sets of new information. Our brain doesn’t choose one or the other—it actually choses neither.

The solution is to have simple and beautiful slides with the minimal amount of words. Our slides are the backdrop of our presentations and should be something that the audience wants to see as you speak. 

But how do you create these? How do you stand out? We have to come to acceptance about one simple fact: 

Stock Photos are Terrible

We’ve all used them. The look all business-y, dry and corny:
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The computer is clearly from a decade ago and it just looks cheesy. Even if you added text into it, it’s not recoverable. 

One of the solutions I found is the site: When you sign up, you receive 10 beautiful images that are royalty free and get a set each month (again, free). You can get ten additional images per month for $10 in addition to their entire royalty free catalog. You can use them wherever and however you’d like. You no longer have to scour the internet, searching for images or trying to take a photo of your coffee maker to talk about “energy”. Here are some examples: 

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The Simplest Method

The images are beautiful and I simply use this “trick” to make the slides look and feel natural (I only use Keynote on the Mac, but this will work with Powerpoint as well): 

  1. I create a shape (rectangle) and set the opacity to about 70% so you can still see through the image. 
  2. Over that box I put a text box and simply write one or two words.
  3. The color of the shape is always used in the photo itself so it doesn’t clash (the green of the dish, the blue of the bottle)

That’s it. Those are all of my secrets for slide design.

Now people will ask for more complex designs like charts and graphs. If you need charts or graphs, you can add those because you are relaying information. I completely understand. But for most speakers, they can simple use one beautiful, soft image, a couple of words to get their point across and make a great presentation quickly. 

This method frees us to connect with the audience, show we are confident in our message and allow our audience to take in the experience we are giving them.

If you want more information on slide design and how to create a great message, I offer a great FREE class here.

About Ryan McRae

Ryan McRae has presented all over the world from South Africa to Afghanistan. He has spoken and designed presentations for Fortune 100 companies and wants this tech-focused culture to be able to speak well and with confidence.

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