YourABA: April 2014
YourABA April 2014 Masthead

3 tips for better slide presentations

Presentations can be a powerful tool for marketing, business development, litigation and even client service, wrote Allison C. Shields, president of Legal Ease Consulting, in a recent posting on the ABA blog Law Technology Today. As a lawyer, you may present to other lawyers in continuing legal education programs, use slides to supplement opening or closing arguments in court, or lecture for clients and potential clients on legal issues or the legal process.

Posting slide presentations on your firm website, blog or on social media channels can help you to differentiate yourself from other lawyers and demonstrate your expertise. Presentations are becoming more and more popular as a way to share and consume content online. For example, SlideShare users can easily upload and share presentations, infographics, documents, videos, PDFs and webinars directly through SlideShare and on LinkedIn.

But uploading a slide presentation online is different from presenting in person because the viewer doesn’t have the benefit of seeing you or hearing your presentation. Here are three tips from Shields on how to improve your slide presentations, both online and off, and how to engage with your audience more effectively.

  1. Keep it simple.

    Slides shouldn’t contain complete paragraphs or armies of bullet points. Instead, choose a few words to drive your point home. Pull out your key points, quotes or statistics from your presentation script or handout, and use those to create your slides.

    When you present live, you can provide attendees with a handout that includes additional background, details and resources that you can’t put into your slides. You can do the same online by creating a document, report or other handout that lives on your website or blog. Then add a link to those materials in your presentation to drive traffic to your site and provide more substantive information for those who are interested.

    Type size is most important when presenting live, but even when posting slides online, you want your message to make an impact, so stick with larger fonts. Presentation experts suggest that the type size on all slides should be no less than 30 point when presenting live.

    Don’t clutter your presentation with too many different font styles or colors. Slides should look consistent and follow a theme, both textually and visually, so choose one font family or a limited number of fonts and use a consistent color palette.

  2. Incorporate visuals.

    Text alone is boring, especially online. Text-only slide decks aren’t likely to engage audiences. Use shapes, colors, images, charts and graphs to visually reinforce your message. Visuals increase retention and make your message more “sticky.”

    Images pack an emotional punch that words alone rarely, if ever, achieve. For online presentations, use words and images together to create a bigger impact.

  3. Use the rule of thirds.

    The rule of thirds is a design principle in which you imagine your slide divided into thirds, both vertically and horizontally, creating a grid. The points where those lines intersect are known as “power points.”

    Placing images or text directly over one of the power points will immediately draw the viewer’s eye and attention. But you can use the rule of thirds in other ways, too. Place text or images along one of the lines for a simple but visually appealing structure. Or align images or text in one of the top, right, left or bottom thirds of the slide. When posting images of people, line up the eyes of your subject to the intersections in the top third of the grid.

Law Technology Today is produced by the ABA Legal Technology Resource Center.

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