Like a lazy river flowing gently along a countryside meadow, well-designed presentation visuals should also flow easily and comfortably. Whether you’re designing in PowerPoint or simply drawing on a chalkboard, your message will have more impact when you keep the viewer’s eyes moving.
When designing visuals, keep innate scanning tendencies in mind. Large, simple geometric shapes will be the first thing your audience focuses on; text will generally be the last. Failure to take this pattern into account when designing a presentation can cause momentary confusion in the audience -- an obvious barrier to effective communication.
We can use this principal to clarify our visual message, as demonstrated in the two left slides. When our eyes scan the first slide, we see the text as two separate columns. We don't make the connection between the columns until we've actually begun to read the text. The second slide uses graphic shapes to clarify the relationship between the two columns, making the slide a much quicker read.
These 4 techniques can help to improve flow on a slide:
- Translate text-heavy information into representational graphics/icons. This is a great way to reduce clutter on the page as well as create a more flowing image.
- Place large blocks of text into groups of rectangular shapes. It’s also helpful if the blocks are color coded with either titles or numbers.
- Use slide builds or custom animation to progressively introduce key visual elements.
- Limit the amount of content on any one slide by telling your story over several slides. Less is more.