I have created my second entry into the SlideShare.net "World’s Best Presentation Contest‘.
This entry is a high level overview of why virtualization is the hottest market in IT today. Of course, such a presentation could easily be 200 slides to cover all the relevant reasons to why virtualization gets so much buzz. I chose to focus on the primary points, and keep the overall presentation very high level. I kept my focus on my ultimate result and the audience (which is a very wide range of people, many of whom are not in the tech industry).
Here are a few notes on the creation of this deck and the choices I made in creating the slides. I have found that a review of my thought process in any type of communication helps me improve a great deal in the future.
First, the choice of the title "The Buzz on Virtualization". My opening to a presentation is typically based on a relevant story or metaphor. A metaphor or story gives your audience a way to relate to the information in a personal manner, and is much more accessible to a diverse audience.
In this presentation I decided to use the "Buzz" metaphor for all the interest in virtualization. I like this metaphor because it evokes the sound of "buzz" and the picture of a bee. If I were presenting this in person, I would add in a sound effect of bees buzzing to the title slide. Whenever possible I try to appeal to multiple senses throughout a presentation, both in the metaphors I choose and the visuals used inside the slides. The widens the appeal to a broader range of people by capturing the interest of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners.
On each section title slide I added in a picture of a single isolated bee to tie back to the theme of the buzz around virtualization. I also used the opening question again the conclusion. This is a very common structure for a speech or presentation. I have found success in tying in the opening at key points during the presentation and closing the loop at the end.
I used graphics extensively (with stock photos from iStockPhoto.com and Sxc.hu among others) through out the deck. I minimized the amount of text per slide and used the "rule of thirds" (from Garr Reynolds "Presentation Zen" ) whenever possible. Garr’s book is an essential resource to anyone who regularly builds slide presentations.
The primary font used is Arial black, a san serif based font. San serif fonts are much more readable on a presentation than serif fonts. Green is the primary font color. There are two reason I selected green. First, "going green" is a popular idea inside IT today. "Going green" is about reducing carbon emmisions and energy use, and aligns well with the idea of reducing energy costs with virtualization. Another image evoked by "green" is money. Since ultimately the biggest initial driver of virtualization in any company is saving money, I decided green was very appropriate for the font color.
The back ground I chose for this deck is black. All of the early drafts of this deck had a white background. That is the corporate standard at my company and one with which I am most familar. Most of the stock photos I used for the deck are isolated on a white background, so that was a natural choice. Garr and many others recommend a black background with a light colored font. I resisted this initially due to my familiarity with the white background and the stock photos. I have used black before but I was reluctant to in this case because of the difficult in editing th white background of the images.
I changed my mind after a trip to the grocery store this weekend. I saw a woman wearing a "Coke" t-shirt. The shirt was black the "enjoy Coke" on the front. "Coke" was in bright white letters and each letter of "enjoy" in a different light color (orange, light red, pink, etc…). As soon as I saw the shirt I began to pay more attention to advertisements and other shirts I saw while I walked in the store. I found that the most compelling ads and shirts all had dark backgrounds and lightly colored text. By the time I got home I decided to change to the background.
I think this slide presentation communicates the message very well. I also feel that the content is much more memorable in this format than the typically text and bullet heavy format of most presentations in the software industry. It will be interesting to see what response (if any) this slide presentation receives from the extremely diverse audience at slideshare.net.
Please post feedback in the comments.