Resources for designing information-dense yet attractive presentations
November 5, 2018 9:11 PM   Subscribe

I'm spending an increasing amount of time authoring presentations on information-dense presentations. Most of the templates that accommodate a lot of text have the aesthetic appeal of Khrushchyovka-style Soviet apartment buildings and the templates that have visual appeal are designed for the Steve Jobs style presentations where little of the message was on the screen in text format. Any suggestions on books/web sites/other resources that provide guidance on how to create modern but effective presentations when you need page after page of text?

Most of the content I'm writing (think explaining technical things that have a lot of command line, programming interface, or user interface options) is stuff that to me generally is best presented in book/website format but I'm working to accommodate multiple learning styles. Very often it's provided to the recipients in printed format so they can take notes on it during the presentation (and with the speaker notes printed out) so not everything needs to go on the screen, but I'm still finding it's denser than most attractive designs want to accommodate.

I'm fine with designing my own template for my needs but some current resources on how to avoid death by Powerpoint while still explaining that this is what options a, b, and c do for page after page would be lovely.
posted by Candleman to Education (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Read some Edward Tufte, maybe take a class.
Read the articles about the Gettysburg Address powerpoint.
For information-dense presentations, I like having notes synced to the slides, and the slides paginated so I can follow, esp. because my hearing is terrible, but also because seeing and hearing it is better.
The more modes of presentation, the more information is retained, up to a point. Say it, show it, do some complete the blanks stuff and ask people to answer out loud. Ok, we covered the algorithm for Deep Dense Info, let me ask what you think the results will be for Subset of Info. For Blah of Blah, will the result be 80%, 50%, 20% ? Toss candy or swag to people who participate. (that will wake them up.)
posted by theora55 at 6:46 AM on November 6, 2018

I guess what you're looking for is information design as a communications discipline, maybe that will be a useful search term/ bring up some tips?
posted by glasseyes at 10:32 AM on November 6, 2018

I came here to recommend Tufte too. Also, having seen way too many info-dense powerpoint decks, I would caution against trying to cram too much info on one slide.

Also, the whole notion of "learning styles" has been debunked. FWIW.
posted by adamrice at 10:32 AM on November 6, 2018

While there are many bad ways to do any presentation, there are individually bad ways to do particular types of presentations.

Questions you should be asking yourself:

What is the goal of the presentation? Is it to introduce? inform? entertain? or to provide an introduction for basic understanding that will be tested, or to study for mastery?

Who is the audience? How large is the audience? Is it in person? Can the presentation be interactive? In what context?

How long is the presentation? Over how many sessions is it being done?

How will you know if you were successful?
posted by lalochezia at 11:15 AM on November 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm sometimes forced to do this style of presentation which breaks every rule of well-designed slides, and it's painful for the presenter and the audience during the presentation, but then the audience appreciates the slides afterward.

An acceptable middle ground for me has been to include some superdense unreadable slides that I state in the presentation are for reference and context. For these, I use black text on a white background with no other design features except a small slide number. It's not going to look good no matter what I do, and anything else I might add will just be distracting.

In the presentation, I don't dwell on these slides. I create additional slides that break down the long text point by point, and my design efforts go into those point-by-point slides.
posted by Former Congressional Representative Lenny Lemming at 3:07 AM on November 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

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