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The dangers of being seen as “slick”

February 23, 2010

I recently read a great post over at Dave Paradi’s powerpoint blog about the dangers of having “too much design” in our presentation slides. By too much design he means “When there is too much design in the graphics and movement” with the consequence being “the risk is that it is perceived as slick.”

The point is very valid because in reality when a presentation is well and truly effective the audience will not be commenting on the slides, either negatively or positively, they will be commenting on the content that you are trying to convey with these slides. In the e-book “Keep it simple” by the chaps at 37signals they say the same thing about website interfaces, the best ones are so good that you don’t even notice the interface.

One of the points he made reminded me of the quotation above which I read a while back in the Presentation Zen book, Paradi notes that in an overly dolled up presentation “The audience wonders what you are trying to hide in the presentation. They figure you are trying to dazzle them with a flashy look to cover up something else.”.

The solution is of course finding balance. Finding the middle ground between aesthetics and message is the key and presenters that place too much emphasis on the “slick” aspect of their slides, no matter how tempting is might be, are at risk of communicating nothing but the “flashyness” of their visuals… not their actual message.

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