Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides: A Case for Sentence Headlines and Visual Evidence

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Abstract:

The traditional design of presentation slides calls for a phrase headline supported by a bulleted list. Recently, many critics have challenged the effectiveness of this design. This article argues for a significantly different design that offers numerous advantages in most communication contexts but that is particularly well suited to technical presentations. Originating at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and refined in more than 400 critique sessions at Virginia Tech, this alternative design is characterized by a succinct sentence headline supported by visual evidence. What distinguishes this design from other visual -evidence designs are its specific layout and typography guidelines, which were chosen to make the communication efficient, memorable, and persuasive. Although more difficult to construct than the traditional design, the alternative design shows much promise as a more effective means of conveying technical information to various audiences. This article outlines the key advantages and challenges of using this design, and concludes by assessing attempts to disseminate this design through lectures, workshops, and the Web.

Document Type: Journal Article

Publication date: November 1, 2005

More about this publication?
  • Technical Communication, the Society's journal, publishes articles about the practical application of technical communication theory and serves as a common arena for discussion by practitioners. Technical Communication includes both quantitative and qualitative research while showcasing the work of some of the field's most noteworthy writers. Among its most popular features are the helpful book reviews. Technical Communication is published quarterly and is free with membership.
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