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Frankenslides: How they come about, and how to guard against them…

2nd July 2016

 
Given the name – Frankenslides – we’re sure you can make an educated guess as to just what the made up term is referring to. And in all likely hoods, you’ve probably either been guilty of performing it, or witnessing it first hand from others.
 
But, just to be clear, the term Frankenslides refers to a hodge-bodge of different slides coming together to form a single presentation. By different, we mean slides that were part of separate presentation decks, probably even from separate departments, and so slides that are compromised of different design features.
 
Fonts, style of imagery, templates, layout of content, basically it’s all of the different design elements in Frankenslides that make your presentation look widely inconsistent and unfortunately, very unprofessional. The effect this can have on the end user/viewer of the presentation can be huge. Meaning that the great content in your presentation could be overshadowed and weakened by the messy and disconcerting design being used. And so not only will your slide deck have an unprofessional feel, but this poor level of professionalism will be reflected upon the person responsible for the presentation.
 
However, we’re well aware that the practice of combining slides from different presentations is something that isn’t going to go away. So, instead what is needed is an understanding and focus on how combining different slides can be done better – ultimately to do away with dreaded Frankenslides. Therefore we are not condoning the practice of combining slides from distinctive presentations, far from it. We just want to make it clear that consistency is key when you do, do it.
 
 
Here are some key consistency pointers worth following to avoid the mess of Frankenslides:
 
 
 

1. Put in Master Slides

 
Failing to do this is the first step on the path to Frankenslides town, and a first step that all too often is taken.
 
People, with their collection of different slides in place, simply then just go straight to putting their presentation together. But given that each slide is different, it means the style – position of content, background colours, fonts ets – of each slide is likely to be different too. Therefore, right from the start you should set up your slide masters, so that you can ensure key elements – such as title and logo position, fonts and general layouts remain consistent throughout.
 
Remember, you can attach different slide masters to different slides. So it is advisable to have slide masters for section headers, and slides for specific types/sections of content.
 
Not only does this help to ensure consistency, but as you are not trying to manually match slides to one another, it will help you save a heck of a load of time in the long run too. Slide masters really are a must have for big presentations, especially when you are adding in slides, as you can very easily make universal style changes to slides.
 
If you are still unsure of the workings of a slide master, then it’s worth taking some time and going through the easy to understand documentation on them, which you can find
here.
 
One more quick tip before we jump onto the next point, is to do with font consistency. And although this is a fairly minor point, it’s one of those things that can save you a fair amount of time, and also improve your patience with PowerPoint!
 
When you are adding in text, the text may not be in the font of your choosing. Meaning you then have to manually go and change the font to the font you want. With big presentations, this could be an annoying behaviour that you find yourself doing quite a bit! To help with this, all you need to do is once you have a text box in place with the font you want to use throughout your presentation, simply right click on the text box and choose the option ‘Set as Default Text Box’. Then, every time you add in new text it will be in your chosen font. It’s amazing how many people forgot about doing this!
 
 
 

2. Colours and images

Unsurprisingly, it’s all about that word consistency again. You should be striving for the imagery used in your presentation to look like it all belongs together. Whether that’s the same illustrator having worked on it, or that the images look like they have come from the same photographer/photoshoot. And so it’s best to avoid mixing imagery styles.
 
 
 

3. Organisation

A consistent design adds to the professionalism of your presentation, and helps readers to digest the content far more easily. To improve this even further, you should give attention to the organisation of your presentation. Breaking your presentation down into specific sections, and guiding the viewer through them – with signposting for example – will show your audience how you have approached the problem that your presentation is telling the story of.
 
You should then ensure design is consistently applied throughout the whole presentation, with differing yet complimentary colours used to separate segments. This approach will again give a very organised and professional look to your presentation.
 
 
 

4. View your slides at a glance

A good little tip to follow to help you spot any glaring inconsistencies, is to view your overall presentation in ‘Slide Sorter’ mode. It is found within the view tab, and will simply shrink each slide so all of them can be displayed in one large batch. By seeing them laid out together, like a pack of cards, any inconsistencies should jump out at you, which you can then amend.
 
 
 

5. Graphs and charts

Below is a diagram that shows why you need to avoid inconsistencies when displaying data in charts and graphs.
 
 
SemanticsGraph
 
 
What the graph on the left is trying to show is that the leftmost bar is 1.2x the quantity of the 2nd from the left bar, but that’s inconsistent with the right hand side graph. Simply the figure in the green arrow on the left hand side graph needs to show the decline not increase. These are inconsistencies that can ultimately lead to costly errors
 
 
 

6. Less is more

Finally, always follow the golden adage of ‘less is more’. It’s a view that is all too easily ignored, with a ‘more is more’ ethos often being wrongly followed instead.
 
 
 

Conclusion

It may sound somewhat obvious, but presentations are put together for the end user to consume information. If the information is poorly displayed and presented, it can lead to confusion on the part of the consumer. This confusion not only wastes time but it can also lead to costly errors, due to poor decisions being made – a point we alluded to when drawing upon the example of the graph.
 
 
To sum up the problem with Frankenslides, we’re going to draw on one more proverb – Garbage in, garbage out. Ultimately that’s what it comes down to.
 
Until next time…
 
Rima.
 
 

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