7 Presentation Examples That Will Renew Your Faith In PowerPoint

The opening scene of It Might Get Loud shows Jack White (of The White Stripes) hammering together a one-string electric guitar with a two by four and an empty Coke bottle.

He plugs it in, plays a grungy riff, takes a drag of his cigarette and asks:

“Why says you need to buy a guitar?”

Pretty epic, right? The thing is, Jack White is one of the best guitarists in the world. Any guitar manufacturer would be happy to send him their best gear for free.

He’s got access to all of the latest guitars, amps, effects processors – you name it.

But he doesn’t need any of these things to make great music because he’s a master of his trade, a craftsman. An artist.

See also: Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Recording

An artist’s skills and creativity aren’t determined by his tools. Tools are only as effective as their user!

The most illuminating example of this in the business world is the ever-present PowerPoint presentation.

You know what I’m talking about, right? We’ve all sat (or napped) through a mind-numbing PowerPoint presentation at least once in our professional lives.

It’s easy to blame the tool, which is why you’re so used to hearing people say things like:

“PowerPoint sucks!”

“Death to PowerPoint!”

“Prezi is better!”

Have you ever said anything like this? I know I have.

But PowerPoint isn’t the problem. It’s us, the users. PowerPoint is a blank canvas, and it’s actually a pretty powerful tool. After all, there’s a reason why it’s the most popular presentation software in the world!

The problem isn’t the software. The problem is that presentation with 50+ text filled slides and no images. It’s charts and graphs that are too small to see and impossible to digest.

It’s a design problem, and it’s totally fixable. Bad PowerPoint presentations can be avoided, but it’s up to you – the user – to make that happen.

To help you get inspired, here are 10 good presentation examples everyone should see (especially non-designers):

1. Fix Your Really Bad PowerPoint

by SlideComet

A presentation about presentations? How meta! This deck is based of Seth Godin’s ebook on the same topic, and it’s fantastic:

2. Why Content Marketing Fails

by Rand Fishkin

This isn’t a pretty presentation. Rand clearly isn’t winning any design awards with this one. But it’s very entertaining and very effective:

3. The Brand Gap

by Marty Neumeier

This grey scale presentation about design and branding is simultaneously minimal and beautiful. It goes to show that you don’t need a ton of content to make your point:

4. What Would Steve Do?

by Hubspot

This deck about the world’s best presenters is bold, clean and impactful. Pay attention to the power of full size images and tasteful transition effects (i.e very simple “on click” animations):

5. 10 Powerful Body Language Tips

by SOAP Presentations

Believe it or not, this is really a PowerPoint presentation. But many hours of expert design went into it, so it looks like it was built in Illustrator:

6. The Power of Networking

by Fabio Lalli

This is a perfect example of slide deck built to support the presenter. – not to steal the show or act as a crutch. Notice the use of large, evocative, high res images on every single slide:

7. All About Beer

by Ethos3

What stands out in this deck is the design. Specifically, the branding and consistency.  The pleasant (and relevant) color palette is consistent throughout the presentation:

Each of these are examples of great presentations that could be built with almost any presentation software, including PowerPoint.

So here’s my challenge to you: next time you’re putting together a slide deck, come back to this post, get inspired, and create something awesome that makes people ask:

“Is that PowerPoint?”

Read next: 5 Data Visualization Blogs You Will Fall In Love With

Why You Should Use Noun Project to Download Icons

Let’s begin with a brief thought exercise: What is the first word or concept that comes to mind when you see all of the following images?

Icons examples

Hopefully you guessed something along the lines of “communications,” which is exactly what these icons represent — at least for the Noun Project community.

Wander over to thenounproject.com and you’ll discover countless icons created and uploaded by people all over the world – from the US to Poland to Hong Kong to Lebanon.

All you need is a free account — and the willingness to get temporarily lost in an immensely cool repository of iconography.

Icons, as simple as they can look, are integral parts of what we produce here at Maga—whether it’s a map, a website, an app, or an invitation to an office birthday party. They often prove to be quick answers to visually-based questions.

Need to direct a reader or viewer’s attention to a key idea?

Want to convey a concept or object in a single picture?

Or maybe just want to spice up that PowerPoint presentation you made for an upcoming meeting?

Icons will be your dependable friend—like a dog that loves you unconditionally (as all dogs do), except you don’t need to walk it, bathe it, or potentially surrender your personal objects as chew toys for it.

Dog icon
Dogs are loyal and make you feel loved. They are man’s best friend. Like icons for a presenter.
Raccoon icon
Raccoons steal your food when you go camping. They cannot be trusted. Raccoons are not like icons.

At Maga, we’re fortunate enough to have a dedicated group of designers and design strategists who can create icons for our work products. But not all of us are wizards in Adobe Creative Suite.

Many of us don’t consider ourselves artists.

In fact, for some of us (we’ll call them Muggles), just being able to make a colored rectangle in Illustrator is a minor accomplishment. Yet no one at Maga is exempt from having to make the occasional brief or PowerPoint deck.

And because we all like to practice what we preach, this means that the Muggles of the bunch—including yours truly—often have to find simple, easy ways to make their presentations more visually engaging.

See also: Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Recording

This is when Noun Project proves to be an incredibly useful tool. Adding icons into a document allows that document to catch the reader’s eye in ways that blocks of text couldn’t.

It also allows the author to arrange content in more interesting or compelling way. With Noun Project, an appropriate icon is only a search away. And once you’ve found the right image, a quick download is all that stands between you and your visual aide.

One noteworthy aspect of Noun Project is that its contents are not limited to traditional, concrete nouns—that is, to people, places, and things that you can see or touch.

A search for an abstract concept will unearth a myriad of interpretations. For example, here’s what turns up for “solution”:

Solutions icons

Is a solution an idea? Yes.

Is it a technological fix? Yes.

Is it putting two things together? Yes.

Is it a chemical mixture? Yes.

Is it an answer to a math problem? Yes.

In some ways, then, Noun Project highlights the complexities of the human language. Mitigating this complexity is always part of the challenge at Maga, but it’s also a big part of the value that we provide: visual communications that are easily understood by varying audiences.

So next time you’re trying to enhance a presentation or document, check out Noun Project. You can almost always find what you’re looking for…or, if not, you’ll at least stumble upon something humorously unexpected along the way (looking at you, R2-D2).

Icon Creds: Luis Prado, Jose Campos, Christy Presler, Demetria Rose, Marcio Duarte, Gabriele, Malaspina, Yazmin Alanis, Mister Pixel

Take Better Notes: A Beginner’s Guide to Graphic Recording

Have you ever seen a visualization like this one?

Example of Graphic Recording
Image credit: See Your Words

Be careful not to confuse this sketch with an infographic, which is designed to distill information in a quick and simple way – much like a blog post.

Graphic recordings, while similar in appearance, actually serve a completely different purpose – one that’s extremely significant for any workplace.

Before we get into that, let’s quickly go over the idea behind graphic recording.

What is graphic recording?

A graphic recording is a visual representation of a meeting or discussion. The artist creates it during the meeting, as people are speaking, on a whiteboard or large flip chart.

The artist captures spoken word and turns it into something visual.

Outcomes vs. Outputs

Graphic recordings are most often used in the corporate environment, such as in large meetings or presentations.

(An infographic, in comparison, distills already captured information into a more digestible, consumer-friendly format.)

Why should you care about graphic recording?

Graphic recording, or graphic facilitation, is a fantastic tool. Once you’ve seen a graphic facilitator in action, you will wonder how you ever accomplished anything without him (or her).

Here are a few benefits of graphic recording:

Increased engagement

Are you tired of people using their cell phones during meetings? Do you use your phone during meetings? Wait… are you reading THIS during a meeting? Tisk tisk.

Everyone knows that smart phones are a huge problem for meetings. Most of us are completely addicted to our phones and, whether or not we are looking at work related material, they definitely distract us from the matter at hand.

See also: 5 Data Visualization Blogs You Will Fall In Love With

According to Atlassian, it takes an average of 16 minutes for us to refocus after handling incoming email. No wonder half of us consider meetings a complete waste of time.

One of the best ways to combat the tyranny of meetings is with graphic recording.

Not only is it incredible to watch, but it’s collaborative. Everyone can throw ideas at the graphic facilitator and see them visualized in a simple, colorful, and powerful way.

Fewer people on their phones. Fewer people taking notes. More people listening. More people communicating. That’s the power of graphic facilitation.

Increased Memory

Have you ever finished a meeting and realized that you were only listening to half of what was said? Maybe you don’t remember anything at all? If you’re the boss, maybe this doesn’t happen often. But there’s a good chance this is happening to your employees.

We all know that pictures stick better than words. There’s actually a name for this, it’s called the Picture Superiority Effect. People are way more likely to remember information when it’s been presented in a visual format.

When they collaborate in the creation of that visualization, such as in a graphic recording, the effect is compounded.

GFS1

We love to facilitate this sort of collaboration everyday in our office, on site with clients, and at events like DC EXCOMM.

A secret of great musicians is to practice immediately after a lesson. Most wait a bit, thinking that since they just had a lesson, practice can come later. This is a mistake.

Immediately recalling something from you memory is like adding rebar to your brain. (You know, rebar, the metal bars they put in concrete to make it a million times stronger.)

When we recall and analyze things immediately after we learn them, our memory increases exponentially.

Graphic recordings allow us to recall entire meetings immediately without getting bogged down in tedious meeting notes.

Reflection & Shared Outcomes

The average employee attends 62 meetings a month. How do you categorize all of that information? How do you separate and distinguish each meeting?

With graphic recording, you don’t have to. Each meeting will have a beautiful drawing, one that tells the entire story of what was said.

The best part? It’s super shareable (and share worthy).

Let’s say someone couldn’t make the meeting.

Sure, you can send over the meeting notes. But how many people are actually going to read through those? And not to mention, notes are completely hidden from the group and dependent on the notetaker.

A graphic facilitator is much more efficient because they won’t miss anything.

It’s collaborative. Everyone contributes. It tells a complete story.

Plus it’s fun to look at!

Where can you find someone to do it?

It takes a special kind of person to create graphic recordings. These people aren’t just artists – they are storytellers, craftsmen, and facilitators. They often function as consultants, mediators, and advisors.

In short, graphic recording isn’t a task for your assistant who has a knack for drawing. You’ll want to hire a professional.

An Example of Graphic Recording
Image credit: See Your Words

Finding an individual or firm that provides this service isn’t hard. A quick google search for “Graphic Facilitation Your City” will do the trick. One trait to look for in a graphic facilitator is industry experience.

If they speak the lingo, is will help to keep everyone on the same page. Some companies have gone as far as to hire or train internal graphic facilitators, a practice we definitely recommend.

Rules We Live By

In a recent post, our friends at FastCo Design spotlighted Alison Haigh’s beautiful reinterpretation of the periodic table — we, too, are big fans of this incredible design.

In Alison’s version of the periodic table, gone are the letter combinations standing in place of such obscure elements as flerovium and hassium. Instead, Alison’s minimalist yet elegant design shows the gradual increase in electrons among the elements, not only providing a new twist on a familiar subject but opening up the table to new and useful insights.

Continue reading Rules We Live By

SPARC: Hackathon 3D

This past weekend Maga Design teamed up with SPARC to help host the 3rd annual Hackathon. The 3D themed event included presentations, guest speakers, food, drinks, and games while the 34 participating teams of software engineers tirelessly worked to create the best mobile app. Maga Design offered support by providing creative team name cards for tables, certificates for winning teams, maps of event locations, and a 36”x72” Info-graphic Map reflecting the history of 3D.

This event brought together imaginative teams of hackers from across the country to show off their skills in a colorful setting. Teams were adorned with vibrant costumes and represented themselves with creative titles. In the end, Team App Life 3 left with the title of Best in Show and the $2,000 cash prize. Congratulations App Life 3!

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