Feb 17, 2017

What makes some Visuals more Exciting than others?

Molly Bang's book Picture This is an interesting book which talks about how pictures work and how they affect our emotions. Molly says we do not see pictures as pictures, but we see them as reality. We feel what the picture wants to make us feel. In this post, I have listed down 8 lessons I have drawn from this interesting book.

1. Bigger shapes are more important than smaller shapes. If you make two shapes of the same size, they would be treated as equally important by your audience.

2. Colours play the biggest role in a picture. In the same example as #1 above, even if both the objects are of the same shape and size, the one in a brighter colour would be seen as more important.

3. If you want to create a feeling of depth (or space) in your image, do not place multiple shapes of the same size. Reduce the size gradually and place them higher and higher up on your slide (or image).

Notice how the image on the right creates the space... the triangles keep going farther. In real life, the mountain that is farther is also the smaller.

4. Two objects of the same colour implies that they are connected in some way. Use colours carefully in your pictures and presentations.

The image on the right does a better job than the one on the left. You can get the connect easily.

5. Every picture has two halves. People view pictures as if there is an imaginary line cutting it into two halves; top and bottom. The objects in the top half feel more important than the one in the bottom.

The top half is 'happier' and the bottom one is 'sadder'. If you want to evoke an impression of loneliness and depression, place your subject in the bottom half (and one one corner).

6. The center of the slide is also the center of attraction. Our eyes naturally go there. If you want to create a dynamic feel (a sense of movement), place your objects slightly away from the center.
The top image does the usual thing. Place the market size bang in the middle. The image on the right does a better job. Moreover the circle does not even fit the slide. This makes the user feel the market size is that big!

7. Our eyes look for repetitive patterns. We want to quickly make sense of the world around us. This is why presentations have a template. But there is a flip side to all this. Excess repetition is monotonous and cold. The balance is in between; repeat but break the monotony as well.

Here are 9 random slides taken from a premium template sold online. Observe the use of colours. The same four colours are used in most slides. This repetition with colours creates a sense of calm and assurance. The audience knows what is coming next.

8. We notice contrast. Contrast helps us see. This contrast can be created by colour, shape, size or placement of the object.

Look at the two slides. The simple use of the orange colour tells the audience that 29 is the most important number. The eyes start from the largest circle on the left but quickly move to the right. The gradually reducing size creates the sense of movement.

Recap of the 8 Lessons

  • Bigger shapes are more important than smaller shapes.
  • Colours play the biggest role in a picture.
  • If you want to create depth, place objects further away (and make them smaller).
  • Two objects of the same colour mean they are connected in some way.
  • The object in the top half of an image (or slide) is more important than the one in the bottom half.
  • If you want to create a dynamic feel, place your objects slightly away from the center.
  • Our eyes look for repetitive patterns but excess repetition is monotonous. Strike a balance.
  • Use contrast. Create contrast using colour, shape, size or placement of the object.
Liked this post? Then you will also like 7 Secrets of designing beautiful PowerPoint Presentations and 11 Creative ways to compare two numbers.

Feb 2, 2017

(Free E-book) How should your startup pitch to investors?

I have written a 100-page e-book on how an early stage startup should go about preparing a compelling investor pitch. This e-book will answer questions like:
  • What are the hurdles in your way of securing funding?
  • How do investors evaluate your pitch?
  • How to create content for your pitch?
  • How to design professional slides?
  • How to deliver your pitch with confidence?
This e-book is a step by step guide to create, design and deliver a compelling investor pitch. It is the outcome of my 2 years of working with numerous startups, mentoring them, evaluating and fine tuning their pitches, attending demo days and interviewing investors. This e-book is also based on what I have learnt from awesome articles by other startup mentors, entrepreneurs and investors.

To receive your free copy, send me an email: vivek @ jazz factory dot in or leave your email ID in the comment below. I will email the e-book to you. If you know a friend who is running a startup, share this post with them too.

Dec 22, 2016

11 Creative ways to compare two numbers

How do you compare two numbers in a presentation? You make a table or a simple bar graph? In this post, I will show you 11 creative ways to compare two numbers and present them in your slide. Let us assume we are comparing these two numbers.
  • 50 million people watched a Formula 1 race on their laptop
  • 150 million people watched the same race on a mobile phone
Our message is: 3 times more people watched the race on their mobile phones.

Visualization 1: Text

The simplest way to compare two numbers is to put them along side each other. You can read 50 million on your left and 150 million on your right. The font size is different. This amplifies your message that mobile is more than laptop.

Visualization 2: Bar Graph

The best chart to compare two or more numbers is the vertical bar chart. It is not the most 'creative' visualization, but it is very easy for your audience to understand. The vertical difference in height communicates the message very quickly.

Read more: 14 Charting Tips: Tip #2 Which type of chart should you use?

Visualization 3: Pictures

This is a very 'creative' way of communicating. The size of the mobile phone is bigger than the television. You can make this visualization mathematically accurate my measuring the area of the rectangle (screen size). If you wish to do that, then the area of the mobile screen would be 3 times the area of the laptop monitor.

Visualization 4: Circles

Very simple yet very elegant. Your audience will quickly understand the message. Label the circles and choose different colors. This will enhance understanding. The area of the blue circle is exactly 3 times more than the area of the black circle. You will need to do some maths here. You need to use this formula: Area of a circle = pi x radius x radius; where pi = 3.14159.

Visualization 5: Infographic

This style has become common in the last few years. The number of people (who watched the race) is 10 on the left. On the right, the number is 30. Hence it is 3 times more. This visualization is good because you can 'see' 3 times more people in front of you.

Visualization 6: Bar Graph 2

This is a variant of the simple bar graph. It is called '100% Stacked Column' in MS PowerPoint. In order to emphasize the height, we add the gray area as well. This bar graph puts more emphasis on how much more blue is over brown. The total of brown + gray = blue + gray = 200. To make this chart enter four numbers, 50 and 150 and 150 and 50. Each bar is 200 in total.

Visualization 7: Bar Graph 3

This bar graph sends the message across quickly. One does not need to read laptop and mobile. This is a simple bar graph with a more visual appeal. You can try making the color of the bar same as the color of the icons for more visual appeal.

Visualization 8: Bar Graph 4

This is the same '100% Stacked Column' as in point 6 above. But here we have compared both the numbers together. The brown bar = 50 and the blue bar = 100. Together the height = 150. This bar communicates that laptop is only 1/3rd of mobile. The focus is on comparison and less on absolute numbers. To create this chart, we enter only two numbers. 50 and 100. They total up to 150. Hence the total height of mobile is seen as 150. In point 6 above, we had to enter 4 values to make that graph. Here we enter only 2 values.

Visualization 9: Circle 2

This one is a variant of the circle we saw earlier. In this case, we place the smaller circle inside the larger circle. The point we are trying to drive home is... look how big the blue circle is versus the black one! The difference between the two circle is clearer in this example. In the circle above, the difference is not that easy to grasp.

Visualization 10: Infographic 2

In visualization 5 above, we had used faces. Here we use dots (circles) and we provide the entire universe as well. On our left, we have 100 small dots. 30 of those are brown. On our right, we again have 100 small dots. 90 of those are blue. The message is, blue is 3 times more than brown. The actual numbers are placed below the infographic. The audience is not expected to count the dots. It is a visual representation and it communicates that blue is a lot bigger than brown.

Visualization 11: Infographic 3

This one only differs from number 10 above in the way it has been labelled. Instead of putting the numbers below, you might want to place them in the middle. This will communicate the message quickly.

While comparing two numbers, stick to a visualization that solves your problem. You may use a simple bar chart or table. If it does not meet your need, try out these 11 creative ways to compare two numbers. It will add the much needed punch and kick to your slides.

Looking for more inspiration? I recommend these articles:
45 Ways to Communicate Two Quantities
How to Choose the Best Charts for Your Infographic

Nov 14, 2016

Risk of using Special Fonts in your Presentation and How to avoid it?

In my last post 7 Secrets of designing beautiful PowerPoint Presentations I talked about downloading good looking free fonts from Google Fonts. Using a new font makes your presentation look better. Look at any website. Do they ever use Arial and Calibri? No. Because they want to stand out and make a better impression. But there is a risk of using special fonts. This was pointed out by a reader. Here is the remark:

"The idea behind Google Fonts is great, however the drawback I see with this is that if you need to share the presentation with other team mates it is required to embed the fonts or have them installed on the user's computer."

What is the problem of using special fonts?

If you email your PPTX file and the recipient does not have that special font on her system, then you are in a soup. The computer will automatically replace your special fonts with some other font. The entire formatting will go totally bad. Your presentation might even look ugly. What do you do in this case? How do you use special fonts and don't end up in a bad situation.

Convert your PPTX file into a PDF file 

Now share the PDF file with your client or colleagues. The conversion to PDF will automatically preserve all the fonts. It will also drastically reduce the file size of your presentation. Remember when you convert a PPTX to a PDF you lose all animation and transition effects.

Embed your fonts along with the PPTX file

If you have some animation which you do not want to lose, then embed the fonts along with the presentation. The overall file size will go up but you will be safe. However, embedding fonts is not fool proof and once in a blue moon your PPTX may face issues. I recommend you share your special font file with the presentation. This is possible when the recipient is a colleague. Do not use this trick with your clients. What I am proposing is - that you email the font file (.ttf format) along with the PPTX file. Ask the recipient to install the font first.

Quick recap. You can do 3 things.
  • The best way - convert your PPTX to PDF.
  • If you cannot, then share your PPTX and the font file (.ttf). Trust me, I have done this successfully many times.
  • If you cannot, then as a last resort - embed the fonts along with the presentation.

How to convert PPTX file to PDF file?

In PowerPoint 2013: File --> Export --> Create PDF/XPS --> Save the file. If you are using an older version, conversion is not possible within MS PowerPoint. You can use any free website which will immediately convert the PPTX and send you a link or allow instant download. You can try a service like Zamzar.

How to embed the fonts along with your PPTX file?

In PowerPoint 2013: File --> Options --> Save --> Embed fonts in the file (go down, it is the last item) --> Embed all characters

How do you email your fonts?

If you can, you must share the font files with the recipient. If the recipient installs your special fonts, then you will not need to embed them.This is possible with colleagues and friends. It is even possible when you are speaking at an event and you are not allowed to use your own computer.

In Windows 10, press Windows+R --> Type 'Fonts' in the window that opens --> Copy the fonts which you want to share --> Paste it in a new folder. Now share these .ttf files with your recipient.

Nov 7, 2016

7 Secrets of designing beautiful PowerPoint Presentations

Do you want to improve the look and feel of your PowerPoint presentation? Do you want to make beautiful PowerPoint slides? Here are 7 free websites that will be useful to you. I personally use these websites when I make PowerPoint slides for my clients.

#1 Google Fonts

Google Fonts is the best website to get awesome fonts for your presentations. It is FREE and it is good. This site is not only used by professional presentation designers but also by website designers and everyone else. You see these fonts on mobile apps, posters, brochures and what not.

Forget Arial and Calibri and try out new fonts like Montserrat, Open Sans, Roboto, Archivo Narrow and Oswald. Use these fonts and make your slides look positively 'different'. Your audience will like your slides a lot more.

How to use Google Fonts?
Visit Google Fonts. You can start by scrolling down. Take a look, have fun and discover new fonts. Or, you can start by applying filters. On your right hand side is the filter for Categories. If you want to make a presentation, choose sans serif fonts (to know more read Which font should I use in my presentation?).
Sans Serif fonts look good on the screen. For word documents which will be printed, use serif fonts. Click on the white + sign within the red circle. Now go down (a new pop up will appear) and download the font. The font will get downloaded as a zip file. Unzip it. Right click on the .ttf file and install. You can now open your presentation and begin using this font.

Suggested fonts: Montserrat, Open Sans, Oswald, Archivo Narrow, Lato, Muli, Work Sans and Roboto.

#2 Iconmonstr

Other than the spelling, everything else is right with iconmonstr. This website allows you to download neat looking icons for your presentations and other projects. It is completely FREE. The license clearly mentions that Licensee may use the Work in non-commercial and commercial projects, services or products without attribution. This means, you can download the icons and use it without linking back to the website.

How to use this website?
You can start by searching for a keyword. Let's say you need an icon for time. Type time in the Search box at the top. You will get a list of icons. Click to select. Now choose PNG and accept the terms and download.

If you do not want to search by keywords but you want to explore, then click on Collections (top center of the website) and browse through icon groups. Click on a group to see what's inside.
This website is especially good for tech companies and startups. Here is a slide I recently made using icons from iconmonstr. I have changed the text to maintain confidentiality.
The only effort you need to make is - visualize your points. Then visit iconmonstr and search for appropriate icons. Make sure you use large icons. Larger icons look better. Here is another slide with a similar layout. Notice the large icons.

#3 Pixabay

Pixabay is the best 'free' images website in the world. You can search for photographs, download high resolution files and pay nothing. It is free and you do not need to link to the website. I have been using this website for 2 years now and I can see other people using this site too. Pixabay images can be found in blogs, newspapers, banner ads and of course, in presentations.

How to use Pixabay?
Pixabay has a huge collection of photographs. The collection of vector illustrations and icons is not that impressive. Use it for photographs and search by keywords.
Let's say you want an image of a smartphone. Type 'smartphone' and press enter. Now look carefully at the filters on the top. Click on All Images and select Photos. As I mentioned, the vector illustrations are not that great. If you want to use it for PowerPoint slides, horizontal orientation is better. Click on Orientation and choose Horizontal. You can ignore other filters.
Click on the image you like. Click on Free Download. Choose your desired file size. For presentations always go for L (large). For blog posts and social media, S is enough. Here are two slides I have recently made for my clients using images from pixabay (text changed).

#4 Flat UI Colors

I have written before about the current trend of using flat colors in icons, logos and in graphic design (read more here: Flat Design for Presentations - Are you Missing the Trend?). Flat colors lack special effects (shadow, bevel, emboss) and look very good. All popular apps and websites now use flat colors. All brand logos are now a days made using flat colors. Flat UI Colors is a simple website. It has only 20 flat colors. Pick the color you like. 

How do you use the color?

You need to click on the Color Format button on top. Choose RGB (1,2,3). When you click on your desired color, the RGB code gets copied automatically. Paste it in a textbox.
You will use this code to fill colors into your text boxes, shapes and charts. Choose any shape you want to color. It could be the header of every slide in your Slide Master. Click to select it. Under DRAWING TOOLS on the top, under FORMAT, go to Shape Fill. Choose More Fill Colors and click Custom. Now enter the RGB code of the flat color and press OK.

Start replacing your standard Windows Colors to Flat Colors and notice the improvement.

#5 Iconfinder

Iconfinder is another personal favorite of mine. I have been using this site for 2 years now and I have found it exceptionally good. Iconfinder is different from iconmonstr. Iconmonstr only offers simple icons. Iconfinder has all sorts of icons in various colors and designs.
Iconfinder has both free and paid icons. The paid icons are much better but many of the free icons are no less.

How to use iconfinder? 
You need to search icons using keywords. Let us say you want to depict time. You enter the keyword 'time'. Look to your left. Keep the Icon format to Any, set Price to Free, choose No link back under License type and set Icon size to 512 pixels. The icons that you get now are free for commercial use and you do not need to link back. What more do you want?

To download a free icon, choose an icon and click on it. Download the PNG version which is 512x512. Larger icons are better than smaller ones. Smaller icons are good when you need to use in mobile apps. For making PowerPoint slides, download large 512 pixel icons only. Here are two PowerPoint slides I recently made using icons from iconfinder (text has been changed to maintain confidentiality).

#6 WhatFont

You visit a website and like a particular font. You want to (and you must) use it in your presentation. What do you do? Skim through lines of code. Not any more. You can install WhatFont extension in your Chrome browser. 

How to use WhatFont?
You are on a website. You like a particular font. Click on the f? icon on the top right (in Chrome browser) and take your cursor to that font. You will be immediately aware of the font name. What do you do next? Visit Google Fonts and see it that font is there. If you are lucky, you will download it for free and starting making beautiful PowerPoint presentations with this new font.
I visited Dropbox website once and liked the header font. Pointing my cursor, I knew instantly it was 'Open Sans'. I visited Google Fonts and voila! I found Open Sans there. Today I used Open Sans in many of my presentations. It is a very good font. Simple and easy to read.

#7 Awwwards

If you design lots of presentations, you will be wondering how do you keep creating better and better slides. You cannot keep using the same color combinations and same layouts forever. You need new ideas, you need inspiration.
Visit Awwwards website and browse for 15 minutes. The best way to use it is to look at WINNERS. Under WINNERS, select winner of the month and browse by categories. Look at 'Business & Corporate' as a category. Click on the icon in the middle of each showcase and visit the website. Soak in the design, the use of images, icons, color and fonts. Carefully observe the font colors and the background colors. Why not use them in your next presentation? There is no pressure. You are just observing and getting inspired.

Here is one such website. Look at the use of colors. How do you use it in PowerPoint slides? In your next presentation, avoid using a white background. Use grey. It will hurt the eyes less. White slides in a small conference room actually hurts our eyes.

On top of grey, use 2 colors; black and green. To emphasize a box or a bar chart, use orange. Want to try? Here are the RGB codes you can use. Grey 242, 242 and 242. Green 64, 181 and 114. Orange 253, 169 and 64. We finally have a template of four colors; black, grey, green and orange. These four colors form a sober template which you can use for any presentation.

Designing PowerPoint Presentations is very much graphic design. Though managers and executives are not designers, yet they need to design slides. When you do design slides, you need to make them look better. Give your mind some ideas and get inspired on Awwwards.

What do you need for beautiful PowerPoint Presentations?

Beautiful PowerPoint Presentations = Good looking fonts + nice images + nice icons + good colors + some inspiration. I hope you find these 7 websites as useful as I have found them in the last two years.