July 17, 2009 | Design Basics
Seth Godin has a great piece about making charts that work over at his blog. Godin’s books, blogs and presentations are widely read and viewed and I’m excited whenever a thinker like this points out the importance of design in making a business presentation.
He has this quote, (although I don’t know where he found the stats!) that really summed up the problem of most business presentations.
92% of all the business presentations made in the United States are done with templates created by big companies in Excel or Powerpoint. This is a horrible tragedy… when you show me something exactly like something I’ve seen a hundred times before, what do you expect me to do? Here’s a hint: Zzzzzz.
It seems like people want to follow a formula for the way a presentation should look. And this formula has been created by Microsoft. The problem is that Microsoft—as strong a company as it is—is not particularly strong in the design, identity and branding arena. I don’t need to remind you of all the comparisons between the clunky Microsoft products vs. the cool, sleek Apple products.
4 Tips for more professional looking presentations
- Override the defaults and work your own brand identity into a presentation. Go into the color picker and find your corporate colors as the accent colors for your graphs. Use your corporate fonts, not the default Times or Arial.
- Go easy on the lines. It seems like these programs like to put 3-d shaded lines into spreadsheets, and like to outline color blocks in bar graphs. All these lines are unnecessary, taking them out will clean up the look.
- Create a template so that all of your presentations look cohesive and professional. You can hire a designer to do this for you once, and then you reuse it over & over. It’s like putting a high-quality and consistent frame around whatever you present.
- If you’re going to publish a white paper or distribute sales & marketing materials that really demands a professional, high-quality look, be prepared to leave the bounds of Microsoft. Allow a graphic designer to pull the data into a professional program such as Adobe Illustrator.