Media Presentations: Effective Design & Graphics

Instructor: Millie van der Westhuizen

Millie is currently working in tertiary education, whilst completing her master's degree in English Studies.

In this lesson, you will learn about the relationship between content and design in media presentations. We will also explore some of the ways you can ensure your design styles are effective.

Why Effective Design is So Important

Have you ever sat through a media presentation and couldn't help but laugh at the presenter's design choices? When Microsoft PowerPoint was released, many people jumped at the opportunity to make presentations colorful and creative, rather than practical and informative.

The results have become somewhat of a joke these days. ClipArt, WordArt, bright colors and gradient backgrounds have all become synonymous with bad presentation design. These styles are not only considered outdated, but tend to make fonts less legible, and the use of ClipArt rarely enhances the overall message.

An example of a poorly designed presentation.
Example of a badly designed presentation

What Effective Media Presentations Should Do

If all your presentation is doing is distracting your audience, then you might as well go without it. In fact, software like PowerPoint has become so popular that people often use it unnecessarily. Instead, try using media presentations only when they add value to your message. This can be done by highlighting the main points of your presentation through the use of text, graphics, or multimedia.

Design Tips

Remember that how you present media is often just as important as what you are presenting, so always try to provide substantial content. It's necessary to identify the purpose of the information before you start designing the delivery. This can help validate whether a presentation is needed or not.

In addition, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Keep your content simple and avoid having too many lines, words, or pictures.
  • Balance substance (value) and visual appeal; a pretty presentation with no real meaning, is just as useless as a distracting one.
  • Match the information to the format you're using. Determine whether you should be using text, images, or multimedia.
  • Don't include more than one main idea per slide.
  • Keep the background simple to minimize distractions and ensure visibility.
  • Try to align your content as much as possible.
  • When animating the slideshow, don't over-do it! This can be both distracting and time-consuming.
  • Keep the look and feel of the slides consistent, but not identical. Many programs have styles that you can apply to the whole presentation.
  • Think carefully about your color scheme. You want it to look professional, so avoid having too many colors. In general, it is a good idea to use two or three colors throughout the entire presentation.
  • Finally, make it a point to have an attention-grabbing title slide, while maintaining the theme of the presentation. Similarly, an interesting closing slide will leave viewers with a lasting impression.

An example of a more effectively designed presentation with a consistent and professional style.
An example of an effectively designed presentation

Tips for Presenting Text

  • Choose easy-to-read fonts, but avoid standard ones such as Times New Roman; this is often associated with boring content. Sans serif fonts are generally more legible than serif fonts.
  • Be strategic in how you use bold or italicized font. Font size should indicate headings, subheadings and body text.
  • Make sure your font is large enough (at least 20pt for body text).
  • Use font colors that contrast with the background to ensure legibility.
  • Apply bullet points instead of paragraphs when possible, but avoid overuse of bullet point lists that all look the same.
  • Try to express ideas by using about 6-10 words per line.
  • Summarize your outline. People shouldn't be reading along with you.

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