Ryan Orcutt joined Duarte in 2004 as a graduate of Chico State’s School of Communication Design and now contributes as Associate Creative Director. His 12-year tenure has allowed him to help some of the world’s most influential speakers craft, visualize and deliver some of today’s most compelling and persuasive visual stories. Ryan’s skill lies in his ability to combine his natural abilities as a visual thinker, storyteller, and designer. If you dropped in at Duarte headquarters, you’d most likely find him leading a client workshop, drawing a storyboard or bartending the Friday afternoon happy hour.
In this conversation, Ryan discusses his session at the upcoming Presentation Summit 2016 series.
Geetesh: You are presenting right after the keynote on Monday, and your session is called Why Presentation Design Matters. What do you believe the attendee will take away from your talk?
Ryan: First, I believe my talk will remind the attendees of the importance of the work they do every single day. In today’s fast paced, business savvy world, presentations have become the default way the most innovative ideas and critical messages are shared. And because of that, how you design a presentation can determine whether or not an idea is accepted or a message is heard. Your skillset as a presentation designer has never been in more demand and your value to a business never higher. I hope to encourage people to accept that responsibility and be deeply proud of what they do.
Second, the attendees will get a glimpse into several real world project transformations. They will be able to see some of the design techniques used as the presentations went from unclear, underwhelming or forgettable to persuasive, impactful and memorable. With the right design, these slides became presentations that moved people. And you can do it, too.
I hope that attendees walk away with a renewed passion for presentation design and some fresh techniques that they can take back to their desk.
Geetesh: Ryan, how do you approach presentation design? Many designers just think of presentations as an extension to print and graphic layouts—what should they know about presentation design?
Ryan: I approach each presentation I work on as if it was my story to tell. I try to learn as much as possible about the topic and find something about the message, person, product or idea to fall in love with. The deeper in love I fall, the better the work. The best part, these are short love affairs with something new just after the next deadline.
Additionally, I never think of presentations as just a sequence of slides. I think of them more like movies with flow, pace and contrast. Your approach to crafting presentations changes when you use that mindset. You focus less on titles, transitions and individual data points, and you focus more on the audience, what you want them to feel and the transformation you want them to undergo. Don’t get me wrong, the titles, transitions and data points are important, but they all need to be in service of the message and the desired transformation.
Finally, remember that the best presentations are ones that have been approached from 3 different angles. The visuals, the content and the delivery. A presentation can be made better by improving any one of those components, but it’s only when all three elements have been addressed that a presentation will truly sing. This means collaboration—designers, writers and speaker coaches all working together on parallel tracks. It can be a tricky balancing act, but one that pays big returns if mastered.
What is the Presentation Summit?
For many years now, Rick Altman has been hosting the Presentation Summit, a highly popular event that is geared towards users of PowerPoint and other presentation platforms.
Date: October 23 to 26, 2016
Location: Green Valley Ranch, Las Vegas, United States