How to Avoid the Horror of Frankenslides

Wednesday, October 30, 2013
posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 4:00 AM IST



by Eric Albertson, Doug Neff, Corey Rothermel from Duarte.com/edy

We’ve all seen them. We may have even created them ourselves. Frankenslides.

You know, the decks where we borrow a few slides from that person in Finance and combine them with the product slides from Engineering, then throw in a few compulsory “features and benefits” slides from Marketing—each of which has its own look and feel? The content may be great, but the execution—not so much. The inconsistent treatment of all those different design elements leaves your audience feeling unsettled and makes your idea seem only half-baked.

So how do you combine slides from different decks so that they don’t end up being a mess?

  1. Apply a consistent template. Choose one template to use for your deck, and apply that to all your slides. This will create a consistent color scheme and background for every slide in your deck. Note that applying the template to slides from other decks may shift things around on your slides, so be prepared to re-align text boxes, titles, photos, charts, etc. Still, this is a good first step in getting all your slides to look like they belong together.
  2. Apply slide layouts. Once you have all your slides in a consistent template, go back and apply the appropriate slide layout for the type of content you have. Assuming the content was created in the regular placeholders, this will snap titles back to their correct locations, change the font to the template font, and bring another layer of consistency to your slides.
  3. Make colors, fonts and images consistent. Even after applying layouts, there may still be elements that need updating.

    Colors: Go through and make sure all of the colors are ones from the template’s color scheme.

    Fonts: Check all the fonts to make sure there are no incorrect ones in there. A good technique is to use the Replace Fonts feature to update the fonts in the whole document. In addition to the font itself, make sure the formatting is consistent. For example, if you highlight text with bold and red, make sure you use that design element consistently throughout the presentation.

    Images: Look at the images (photos and illustrations) in your document. Do they all look like they came from the same photo session or the same illustration library? Do you have a mixture of styles, like photos and clip art? Remove or replace graphics that do not fit within the photo or illustration style. Also, make sure you’ve used a consistent image treatment (outline, reflection, shadow, shape, bevel, etc.)

  4. Review your slides in Slide Sorter mode. Once you feel like you have your slides in order, put them in Slide Sorter mode to see them all at a glance. What stands out? The things that are not consistent will jump out. Address these things, and then repeat this step until all the slides feel like they belong to the same family.

You can combine slides from other sources, but make sure you take the time to make them consistent. Otherwise, your dream deck will come across as a nightmare!

Duarte.com/edy is a web series from the minds at Duarte that teaches the ABCs of creating great presentations, told with a little humor, a bit of advice, and maybe a monster or two. Eric Albertson serves as the Director of Instructional Design at Duarte. Doug Neff is the Content Director. Corey Rothermel is the web series director.

See Also: Duarte.com/edy: Conversation with Eric, Doug, and Corey

Categories: interviews, powerpoint, presentation_skills, training

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