Design affects function

Simple design changes in the supportive media  make dramatic differences to the audience’s perception of value in a presentation. The overall value of a presentation (p cubed) is the product of the story (p1) x the supportive media (p2) x the delivery (p3). Imagine how you would perceive the p cubed value if the presenter’s shirt was untucked at one side? It doesn’t actually affect his story or the media but the perception of sloppiness or lack of attention to detail will affect how the overall message is perceived. The style in the supportive media can make a significant difference.

A simple and effective design improvement is in the change of alignment within a slide. This may be images or text. There are many factors that can be improved such as image composition, framing, clutter, fontography, size and spacing. Rather than allow templates to “design” the supportive media there is opportunity influence interpretation both of the individual slide and the overall presentation by changes in alignment.

Centre alignment or justification of text, despite being default on most slideware is a poor way of presenting text. It “leads” the eye down the middle of the text and although it may be symmetrical (itself a poor design choice) it leaves an untidy look that is difficult to read. Particularly when projected on a large screen, the image above will be viewed as principally saying “inspiration” “not” “for”. Go back and see how easily it is read and then immediately view the slide below.

Justification of text, preferably to the left, as this is the direction European languages are read from, delivers a stylistically improved image that is easier to read and therefore delivers more value. Even with the same words on the same lines, the simple act of left justification forces the viewer to read, with specific rhythm, the words as written. Design affects function.

For those that are interested, the phrase on the slides comes from a little piece I did at TEDx Stuttgart in 2013

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