Good design is about function not decoration.

I recently spent some time discussing all things Presentation with an expert, Nicole Gugger. She had many insights into the nature and problems of presentation; she is an excellent presentation coach. One thing she made clear is that good design of a presentation is about function not decoration. 

The message of a presentation is the product (p3of the the story (p1), the supporting visuals (p2) and the delivery (p3). The arc of the story is the means by which the audience are moved from where they are and what they believe at the beginning of the presentation to a new place at the end of the presentation. The delivery is the whole, the essence of performance. The p3 model holds that the backdrop to all this (p2) plays an essential part in the whole. Good design transforms a routine presentation and is what makes the supporting visuals functional rather than simply decorative or even worse, distracting.

Once one moves away from considering the “powerpoint” (p2) as script/handout, it frees the visuals to become functional in illustrating and supporting the other two parts of the presentation.  The nature of illustrations and support will be specific to the individual story and theme of presentation but liberated from the tyranny of annotation one can use text, images, data representations and video to clarify and expand the message. What constitutes good design is the source of endless debate but poor (or no design) is recognised instantaneously. It is the title slide that signals that tenor of the presentation to come. Design matters, it changes every presentation and we should strive to understand and improve this important facet.

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