Paul J. Radich has worked with Dr. Abela on the development and delivery of the Extreme Presentation workshop since its inception in 2005. He has served on the Ethics Committee of the American Marketing Association, and is Assistant Professor and Marketing Area Head in the School of Business and Economics at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. His areas of focus include consumer behavior, marketing strategy, and international marketing. He provides consulting and education on effective communication of complex information, for major organizations like JPMorgan Chase, Visa, Volkswagen, and the US White House Executive Councils.
In this conversation, Paul discusses his new book, The Encyclopedia of Slide Layouts.
Geetesh: Your new book, The Encyclopedia of Slide Layouts is a comprehensive resource, but it is also a reference to explore that will help create better slides. This is not something that you can write in a moderate amount of time — so what prompted you to take up such a huge challenge?
Paul: Yes, and searching through over 10,000 slides from leading consulting firms was not always exciting, but it was worthwhile: when you are digging for a diamond, and you find that slide layout you have been looking for, you realize it has all been worth it. When the main message of the slide shines through the overall layout, you are harnessing the power of visual storytelling. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a slide layout is worth more than a thousand bullets: both because it communicates holistically — your audience sees it ‘all at once’ — and because it communicates more quickly — they understand your point so much faster than if they had to read a thousand bullet points.
Geetesh: For all layouts that you explain, you also provide links to resources through which readers can get a ready-to-use sample that they can use as a starting point. Tell us about this feature and other interesting nuances – or you can share a behind-the-scenes anecdote?
Paul: Yes, the “squint test” is key. We sometimes call it the foreign language test: if all of the text on your slide were in another language, would your audience still get the key point of your message, from the layout of the slide alone? So, selecting a great layout is crucial. We’re not saying don’t use any text, but instead of using bullet points, embed the text and data in an overall layout which shows how all the different parts of your logic and story fit together. The research supports this approach, and people find it a very powerful method.
The slide layout is the lens you are using to focus your audience’s attention on what is most important. The human mind needs context in order to understand meaning, and the slide layout provides that context – showing your audience how the parts fit together, how one step leads to the next, how your proposal solves their problem, etc.
This book is not just eye candy for your presentation; it is both 1) beauty to the mind’s eye – by helping you communicate complex ideas in a simple way – and at the same time 2) a practical guide to improving your next presentation’s impact.