Posts Tagged ‘redesign’

The Redesign of an ugly NSA PowerPoint Presentation

Slide show expert Emiland De Cubber transforms the NSA’S clunky prism deck with minimalist cool.

When news of the NSA’s classified Prism program broke in, revealing that the U.S. government had ordered the collection of all Americans’ online activities, many cried foul over the Obama administration’s abuses of power. The op-ed machine churned out everything you could imagine, each piece more grave, impassioned, and seemingly “consequential” than the next. Some called for the imprisonment of Prism leaker Edward Snowden, while others offered sympathetic portraits of the young whistleblower.

But when the Prism slide show was circulated around the web, Emiland De Cubber’s first reaction was not a feeling of personal violation on the part of the state, nor worry about its unchecked powers, but rather one of disdain for the document’s presentation sins. He has revamped the NSA’s slide show, replacing its daft graphics with minimalist ones that are unnervingly cool.

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“I thought it was a joke at the beginning, like a caricature of an overly corporate slide template,” De Cubber tells Co.Design. “Huge logos, massive gradients, default fonts, poor charts.”

De Cubber, a visual communication designer, stumbled across data-viz jedi Edward Tufte’s mocking tweets, in which he reserved his ire for Prism’s egregious graphic sense. Tufte’s sneering critique–“Dreadful spy-PRISM deck sets new record for most header logos per slide: 13”–prompted De Cubber’s own response. He updated every aspect of the top-secret Powerpoint presentation, including the program’s terribly ’70s-“Dark Side of the Moon logo,” which De Cubber renders in skeletal, glow-green lines.

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Where the Prism slides each employ different graphic strategies, linked together only by a top banner laden with logos of the partnering companies, de Cubber devised a much more uniform system. His new Powerpoint features flat, pared-down icons that supplant the original’s cumbersome text boxes and jarring logos, and which seamlessly carry across the entire deck. In place of the gobs of text that cluttered the original, for example, De Cubber plots a field of web icons that clearly convey what kind of data can be extracted from online users. For the concluding slide–the one trolled ‘round the (micro-blogging) world–he vertically arrays the logos in tidy columns, each labeled with the year Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and others signed onto the program.

The reinterpreted deck economizes the information and privileges empty space. “People are afraid of an empty slide,” De Cubber explains. “They say, ‘I definitely need this gradient frame around my title,’ and then occupy 30% of their slides with stuff that doesn’t convey any information. That’s why I tried to draw a lot of contrast by keeping my slides as minimalistic as possible. Each element must earn its space on the slide.”

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There was one element of the NSA overview that, like many similar redesigns that have popped up online, De Cubber kept. He slightly modified “International Internet Bandwidth” graphic, featured on slide 2, tweaking certain aspects of its composition. He highlighted the U.S./North America circle and rearranged some bits of text to improve legibility. Asked why he left it intact, De Cubber says that he “liked the analogy between the graphic lines and the actual cables that convey data,” adding that the graphic accurately reflected how “nearly everything flows through the U.S.”

In addition to his wholesale changes to Prism’s visual language, De Cubber excised all of the presentation’s text and inserted his own in its place. In most cases, his thin lines of text delete redundancies and complications found in the original. Now and then, however, he does slip in some subtle digs that make plain the NSA’s intentions. “How can we monitor everything?” reads the heading of one slide; another touting the laundry list of collectable data assures the reader that “many more data sources [are] available upon request.” De Cubber’s cavalier approach to the entire project comes through in his concluding lines of the slide show: “Even if you are not a government agency, I would be happy to help you with your next presentation.”

 

SAMMY MEDINA

Sammy is a writer, designer, and ice cream maker based in New York. He once lived in China before being an editor at Architizer. 

Life’s Elements of Success: A Presentation of Inspiration

 

Transforming a motivational speaker’s basic PowerPoint presentation into a dynamic masterpiece…quickly and economically.

Joe MayneJoe Mayne is a professional speaker and author from Minneapolis, Minnesota. For more than 15 years, he’s been teaching college students from hundreds of campuses across North America how to stand out in the job search process.. His seminar “High Five: Life’s Basics Elements of Success,” is a dynamic and informative program with compelling content. But the graphical design of the presentation was not as bold as Joe himself. So Joe turned to The Presentation Team in December 2009 to transform his PowerPoint presentation from Weak to Wow. The “Enhanced Presentation Package”, provided an efficient and economical approach to transform Joe’s 40-page basic PowerPoint into a powerful presentation that matched the professionalism of his delivery.

Because Joe frequently speaks to large groups at conventions, conferences and meetings, the visual design needed to be bold, graphical, and easy-to-be-read from the back of the room. Our design strategy focused on creating a look-and-feel that reflected Joe’s professionalism and his “Mayne Speaker” company brand and identity, while involving elements of students, careers, a light-hearted approach to the traditional challenge of getting a job. The 6 hour project involved…

  1. Development of a custom professional template (title and body masters), that reflects Joe’s professionalism and his company brand, while integrating his existing content.
  2. Re-working the overall look-and-feel of the presentation (bluu and white colors, Tahoma fonts, clean layout) for a more polished look.
  3. Clean and professional imagery/graphics (portfolio, schematics, people, concept art, etc.).
  4. Clutter-reducing techniques and presentation strategies to create a “cleaner” look with greater effectiveness.
  5. Clean and conservative slide transition effects (fades and wipe effect).
  6. Professional fonts/typography to ensure consistent playback on different computer systems.
  7. Consulting and collaboration to help Joe to refine and present new ideas.

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Joe’s original title slide was clean but dull. The flat grey background and ordinary Arial font was uninspiring. The presentation’s title was placed lower at the screen than Joe’s name. A lack of graphics undermined the title’s slide’s impact on getting the audience excited about the forthcoming presentation. A textured blue background image for the title and body master helped add a level of movement and modernism to the presentation. The top banner provided a foundation of the presentation’s message of people and success. The “High Five” title was moved to the center of the page, and accented with two stock photos conveying two core concepts of Joe’s message “time and direction.” The Myriad Pro font added a new typographical element of modernism and hipness.
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Joe’s slide about relationships was straightforward but flat. The bullet points ran together and provided a basic textual overview about the top. By adding a transparent PNG graphic of two couples, the slide more effectively communicated the topic of relationships to the slide more visually appealing…and memorable.
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A quote about spirituality stood alone on the page. Clean and straightforward, the right justified message was basic and plain. By adding a stock photo of two outstretched hands, the mesage of Spirituality suddenly took on a new life and greater meaning. Studies show that people remember a slide with graphics nearly 20% more than one without graphics.
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Another basic and flat slide…effectively communicating a key message, but lacking a graphic to drive-home the point. By integrating a stock photo of a diverse group of happy business people, the message of keeping employees rewarded, the audience can connect and more effectively relate to the slide, the message, and to the presenter!

Logo-JoeMayneAfter just three days and three rounds of edits, the presentation was success! Joe speaks frequently at conventions, colleges, and conventions. His style, delivery, eloquence- and now his great-looking PowerPoint slides help to captivate his audiences…while inspiring his audiences to get hired!

* Joe Mayne is a Presentation Team keynote partner.

After2

Great Customer Service through a Great Presentation!

Speaker and business consultant Margie Seyfer transforms her PowerPoint presentation from Weak to Wow.

Margie SeyferMargie Seyfer is an acclaimed speaker and business consultant living in Colorado. For over two decades she has helped professionals to improve customer service and improve their bottom line. Her “Winning Women Customers” is a dynamic and informative program with compelling content about the differences of men and women…and what can be done to more effectively earn the business of women.. But the graphical design of the presentation was not as bold as Margie herself So Margie turned to The Presentation Team in March 2010 to transform her PowerPoint presentation from Weak to Wow.

The Enhanced Presentation Package provided an efficient and economical approach to transform Margie’s 40-page basic PowerPoint into a powerful presentation that matched the professionalism of her delivery.

After2

Because Margie frequently speaks to large groups at conventions, conferences and meetings, the visual design needed to be bold, graphical, and easy-to-be-read from the back of the room. Our design strategy focused on creating a look-and-feel that reflected Margie’s professionalism and her company brand and identity, while involving elements of people, speaking, a light-hearted approach to the differences of men and women. The 6 hour project involved…

  1. Development of a custom professional template (title and body masters), that reflects Margie’s professionalism and his company brand, while integrating her existing content.
  2. Re-working the overall look-and-feel of the presentation (light grey and white colors, Tahoma fonts, clean layout) for a more polished look.
  3. Clean and professional imagery/graphics (portfolio, schematics, people, concept art, etc.).
  4. Clutter-reducing techniques and presentation strategies to create a “cleaner” look with greater effectiveness.
  5. Clean and conservative slide transition effects (fades and wipe effect).
  6. Professional fonts/typography to ensure consistent playback on different computer systems.
  7. Consulting and collaboration to help Margie to refine and present new ideas.

Before:
Before1

After:
After1

Statistics simply stated: Margie’s original PowerPoint slide featured a bland and boring blue background. The two statistical percentages were presented top-to-bottom, and interfered with the template’s sweeping arc. Although the yellow title supported the blue background, yellow is not a strong bold color.

The new template (inserted on the master slide as a background image) featured a light grey textured background, conveying a subtle and flowing theme of openness and modernism. The bottom arc at the bottom (inserted on the master slide as an image) was created in Photoshop to convey the message of women in business. The two percentages were moved left to right. The title color was converted to a more bold blue, and the font was converted to the more unique Calibri.
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Times New Roman is one of the most common fonts…but not the best for presentations. The “serifs” or edges of the letters often run together, creating a hard-to-read image. Margie’s original presentation lacked a consistent typeface throughout, and frequenly used this common but hard to read serif font. This slide featured an image at the bottom left of the page…separated from the core message of the slide. Our re-worked slide relocated integrated the title into the master slide, placed in the upper left in bold blue Calibri font. The photo was repositioned in the center left, and amplified with a rounded rectangle white border picture style. To help drive the key point of the differences of men and women, we changed the color of key words to 32-point in blue and red…and made the core point of the fact “not in all circumstances” in a 36-point green Calibri font.
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Statisics by bullet. These four statistics were simply presented in a line-by-line bulleted list. Again, the slide simply comes to life through integration into the template. But by taking the statistical information and integrating it into a table separated by varying shades of grey (rather than border lines), the information is cleanly presented. The percentages are amplified by larger font.
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The full-screen graphic was placed on the page as an imported graphic. Edges ran off the page, and a lack of a title left the slide without a comment or grounding. By adding a title with a transparent rectangular title block, Stan’s Automotive suddenly took on a new meaning. Additionally, the graphic was cropped, resaved as a JPG, and imported as a background image (rather than inserted as a standard image). This reduced file space and allowed for more flexibility.

After just three days and three rounds of edits, the presentation was success! Margie speaks frequently at conventions and business groups. Her style, delivery, eloquence- and now her great-looking PowerPoint slides help to captivate her audiences…while helping them to improve their customer service and bottom line!

* Margie Seyfer is a Presentation Team keynote partner.

Yes! A 700 Page PowerPoint Redesigned in 3 Days


The Inside Story of how a 700 Page PowerPoint Presentation was completely redesigned in 3 marathon days for a large healthcare company meeting.

“To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.”

Leonard Bernstein

I have a hard time saying “No”.

Always the optimist. Always the affirmative attitude. “Yes! Yes! Yes!” is my mantra.

So when the phone call came in on Wednesday morning from a harried physician in New York needing a PowerPoint redesign for a medical conference he was organizing in partnership with a large pharmaceutical company, “Yes!” was my automatic reply. “Of course we can do it!”

AN EASY PROJECT…UNTIL THE DETAILS EMERGED

At first it seemed like a slam-dunk project. Simply insert the client’s logo on each of the 10 separate PowerPoint presentations submitted by the doctors and health care experts speaking at the conference. In my mind, it would only take a few hours to get the presentations cleaned up, and integrate the logos onto each presentation’s slide master.

“When do you need this?” I casually asked.

“Our conference starts Monday; and we need to have it to the printer by Saturday,” was Dr. Paul’s blunt reply. “And we need all the slides to have the same look and feel with a new template,” he added.

“Oh.” After several seconds of awkward silence I replied, “That changes things a bit.”

As Doctor Paul apologized to me for waiting to the last moment- thinking his team could handle the design- I opened three of the presentations he had emailed. They were hideous. Crazy graphics. Animations from hell. And each presentation had its own tragic look and feel. Was it too late to say no? Yes!

ONE PRESENTATION WAS BIG ENOUGH….BUT TEN?!

Transforming just one of these presentations would be a big task. But Ten?!

With the clock ticking down to their deadline, there was little time for negotiation. I needed the work, and wanted their business. And, most importantly, I knew I could do it. “Yes!”

With only 30 hours of available development time for one person (me!), I estimated the price at $3,000. They agreed, and we had a deal. Yes!

I made a few conciliatory phone calls to my other clients, asking for their blessing for me to change my deliverable date for their presentations. And then I took a deep breath, and enjoyed my last full hearty meal for the next three days.

A VERY LATE NIGHT

The presentation transformation began at 9pm ET on Wednesday evening, as I politely locked myself in my home office and warned my partner, “It’s going to be a late night. Sleep well.”

I initiated a GoToMeeting.com web conference with the client to discuss the three presentation template options I had drafted earlier in the day.

“Let’s go with Option 3. It’s the cleanest and most corporate-looking,” he decreed. I agreed. Yes!

PRE-DESIGNED TEMPLATES MODIFIED IN PHOTOSHOP FOR A CUSTOMIZED LOOK

The template was based on a background image from the late great Digital Juice’s Presenter’s Toolkit and some elements from Presentation Pro’s collection of 20,000 templates and presentation images. Pre-designed templates are an efficient and professional source for great presentation images.

In Adobe Photoshop, I worked to modify the background into a light grey-scale theme with blue horizontal bars for title text. Many of the original presentations featured light text against a dark background. HCN’s new unified presentation template/theme featured dark text set against a light grey background. Studies show that many presenters prefer a lighter background, promoting their connection with the audience, and aiding the audience to take notes or see their PDAs.

WORKING TOGETHER ONLINE LATE INTO THE NIGHT

Dr. Paul and I worked online collaboratively for nearly 90 minutes to refine the templates and discuss the presentations. I set up a Dropbox and we reviewed the other seven speakers’ presentations. And when we hung up at 11pm, I was just getting started.

I set a “hard stop” time for 2am, and over the next three hours I worked with focused precision to refine the template and transfer the old presentations into the new template. My new template included several page layouts, as I created an”intelligent design” featuring pre-defined line spacing, placement for graphics and standard dissolve transitions.

By saving the template as “HCS-Template.potx” allowed me to start a brand new PowerPoint file with same template. I worked to import my slides from the existing presentation into the brand new file (New Slide..Reuse Slide…Insert Slide From…(with Keep Source Formatting un-checked)).

ONE SLIDE EVERY 30 SECONDS

By 1am- just one hour later- all ten presentations were in the new template, each saved its own folder with a logical file naming standard. But a new template can only go far in making ugly slides look better. The hard work was just beginning. Aiming to transform one slide one slide every 30 seconds, I was moving like a courtroom stenographer. Control-C. Control-V (Copy / Paste). Drag and Drop. Right-click…Reset Slide. Zoom Zoom!

When 2am arrived, I was on fire. Unstopable. I could have continued designing until dawn! The presentations were on their way to a magical transformation. But they were hardly in any organized style.

But I needed to settle down and get to bed. So I started wrapping up for the night by uploading two of the presentations for Dr. Paul to review in the morning. I took a Melatonin (herbal relaxer) pill and prepared for dreamland.

DELERIOUS DREAMS OF BULLET POINTS

Just as the ten medical presentations were in a state of organized chaos, so was my mind. I tossed and turned in my bed throughout the night, my mantra of “Yes!” overwhelming my mind, supplemented by abstract dreams of bullet points, templates and text blocks. Madness. Another melatonin at 4am. And then sunrise.

My Thursday workday started at 7am with a quickly consumed breakfast of waffles and a banana, followed by a rapid walk around the block. I called my client at 7:30am, and again at 8. I needed Dr. Paul’s feedback!! Were we on the right track? Is everything okay?

I showered, said a quick “Hi! Bye!” to my partner, and locked myself in the home office for another day of heavy lifting. Dr. Paul finally re-emerged at 10am, pleased with my overnight progress.

After a few edits to some of the presentations (Dr. Paul was also a speaker with an updated presentation), Day Two of the 700-page presentation renaissance officially began. We agreed to not revise any content or radically change any of the speakers’ slides…the new look and feel was shocking enough.

REPETITIOUS AND RAPID. CLEAN BUT HARDLY CREATIVE.

The tasks were repetitive and minimally creative. I moved quickly but with a focused precision to ensure accuracy and quality. Among the ugliest slides were the photos of the nuclear-colored bar graphs. I opted to recreate the charts with a simplicity and cleanliness. Where possible, and when time permitted, I updated or recreated many of the graphics. And for the text heavy slides, PowerPoint’s Smart-Art feature provided an organized look. The text layout was aided by PowerPoint’s “Autofit…shrink text on overflow” which prevented the text from overflowing (at the expense of consistency in size)

Like a drone, I was frenzied and focused, forgetting lunch, and swallowing a slice of pizza for dinner as I continued the ritual. Edit, Review, Email, Text, Talk, Design, Revise.

By 11pm, I felt we were close to the finish line. Dr. Paul and I connected and shared a final review for the day, and I uploaded all ten presentations for him to review overnight. My sleep that evening was easier and relaxed. 15 hours of relentless but satisfying work.

DAYBREAK BRINGS CALMNESS AND CLOSURE

At daybreak, I awoke and enjoyed a more leisurely neighborhood walk, and fulfilling breakfast. Around 10am, Dr. Paul called. You could sense the stress in his voice, overwhelmed by the responsibilities of the convention.

“These look great, Kevin,” he said. “But we still have more work to do.”

And so I spent Friday tweaking and refining the presentations and collaborating with Dr. Paul to add more sizzle and shine to his keynote talk.

By Friday evening, the total project time stood at 27 hours, and we were nearly complete. I enjoyed a fine meal at a restaurant with my partner and enjoyed a satisfied sleep.

COASTING TO THE FINISH LINE…ON TIME AND WITHIN BUDGET

Saturday morning, a frantic call from Dr. Paul at Staples, where he was printing the presentations- but a design issues was conflicting with the printing of the handouts. A quick-fix and the problem was solved. Several additional tweaks and edits, and by noon, everyone was happy and the ten HCS presentations were on the press.

As the speakers assembled for Monday’s presentation, they all praised Paul for the facelift and enhancement he provided to all the presentations. The two day conference was a success, with speakers empowering health care providers with valuable information supported by world class visuals. And this last-minute presentation makeover will have long-lasting major impact locally…and around the world. Yes we can!

Kevin Lerner is a presentation consultant and expert on presentation design and delivery. His firm, The Presentation Team, has helped hundreds of companies and individuals to create world-class presentations.

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