Keep audiences engaged with a better approach to presentations

Are you ready to ramp up your presentations? Do you want to learn an attention-grabbing way to present your data? Kelly Schrank covered this and more at STC’s 2021 Technical Communication Summit in her session, “Low-Cost and Low Effort Ways to Create Infographics and Visually Appealing Slides.”

Small Steps to Improvement

Clients and employers are raising their expectations for visually appealing designs, requesting slides and infographics that present information in easily understood formats. Creating infographics and slides may seem like a job for a graphic designer but Schrank assured attendees that it is not. Schrank taught herself how to create infographics and appealing slides but as always with learning a new skill, it takes time to perfect. While you may spend as much time putting together a slide or infographic as you did when collecting the data, it will pay off and get easier in the long run. “As you get better, it gets easier, but there's definitely still a learning curve,” Schrank said.

Schrank recommends the following to improve your presentations:

  • Avoid heavy text and busy text treatments. Using slides with WordArt or walls of text is detrimental to presenting information. Pare down and keep text free of treatments that can make it difficult to read.
  • Minimize bullet points. A huge bullet point list on a slide is daunting to the eye and will result in losing the viewer’s attention. However, this doesn’t mean you can never use bullet points. Bulleted lists are OK, but don’t make them the default. “The brain needs variety. People will understand your points better if there are fewer of the same items on the slides,” Schrank said.

Low-Cost Design Options

A variety of services offer free or low-cost monthly subscriptions that allow you to design your own graphics and infographics. However, a pitfall to some of these sites, such as Piktochart, is that items that you create using their program will have their watermark or branding. Canva, another popular platform, doesn’t include watermarking on the items you create but has limited functionality unless you upgrade to a paid version. Explore options to determine what will best meet your needs.

Easy Infographics

“I may find that taking some time to learn a new skill worthy of my time, even if it's a little frustrating. Because learning something new always is,” Schrank said. That said, for communicators looking for programs and templates to do the design work for them can explore options online, though PowerPoint offers a variety of templates to choose from as long as you are open to customizing the templates to fit your needs.

When trying something new, having patience is a necessary skill. “Some people may have lost patience and tolerance at this point in their career for the challenge of learning something new and different from what they normally do,” Schrank said. However, sticking with it and finding your go-to platforms that allow you to create easy-to-understand presentations supports your career in an evolving industry.

About STC Summit OnDemand
STC’s Summit OnDemand includes access to all the recorded education sessions, Featured Speaker Sessions, copies of the presenters’ slides, and even access to the virtual exhibitors. Plus you can earn up to 8 CEUs toward CPTC currency!*
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