Communicating job responsibilities to new employees is a little easier thanks to Microsoft PowerPoint. But for David Brooks of software giant Oracle Corp., the simplistic and amateurish look and feel of his 15-minute "Regional Manager Plan" PowerPoint presentation detracted from his effectiveness in explaining the company's new strategic role for regional managers.
Brooks called on The Presentation Team for a quick and affordable transformation of his eight-page presentation into a more legible, powerful slideshow that would maintain Oracle's brand identity and stand up well to projection as well as printout.
The project was contracted as a Speedy Presentation, a fixed-price offering from The Presentation Team that allocates 95 minutes for development to stay within budget.
In most slideshows, a quality template can go a long way in fortifying the look of a graphically weak presentation, especially those of a technical nature that lack an obvious image treatment.
We began our makeover by working in Adobe Photoshop to create a compelling replacement template. Starting with a modern-looking but unobtrusive stock template from Digital Juice's Presenter's Toolkit, we modified the color's hue and saturation to a light beige. We added an 80-percent-white horizontal bar near the top of the page for a title block and a black bar at the very top to hold the Oracle logo we moved from the bottom.
Appearing large on the title page, and repeated smaller on the bottom-right of the master template, we used a graphic of three squared stock images — a handshake, a clock and a chess piece — to signify partnership, time and strategy, respectively.
Four of the eight slides featured basic lines of text set in 16-point Arial. We bulked up the text by revising it on the master template to the no-nonsense Franklin Gothic Medium Condensed (28-point). Similarly, we changed the title font to the heavier Franklin Gothic Heavy Italic (32-point, all caps).
Originally, several slides featured flowcharts and text groupings that were conveyed weakly with lightweight arrows and black-bordered rectangles. To add impact, we increased the width of the arrows. For improved readability, square edges were rounded and drop shadows added. In the text blocks, we reversed the subheads over black bars. Next came basic animation effects and transitions. Finally, we reviewed the entire slideshow for textual consistency.
With just a little effort, this speedy overhaul helped to more effectively communicate company concepts while reinforcing the stability of its brand.
Increase contrast with bolder shapes and text
BEFORE: This basic flowchart lacks contrast, readability and conceptual focus.
AFTER: Creating a uniform size and shape of the text blocks helps to improve legibility. The arrows have been converted to red with the line color removed.
Software and system used: Microsoft PowerPoint, Adobe Photoshop 7.0, Digital Vision stock images.
Kevin Lerner is founder and president of The Presentation Team, a marketing-support company that creates presentation graphics and multimedia. He can be reached at 877.823.5730 or klerner@presentation team.com.