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Slide Decks & Stage Production

Very early in my career in the meetings industry, I planned a recognition event in Dallas, Texas. During the stage presentation, we had two large screens flanking the stage where the power point was showing. I put an inordinant amount of time into designing the slide show...it was my first time doing this for an event. Oh, gosh was I proud of my work and so excited when we got into the ballroom for set up the morning of the event. I brought my CD (yes, this was before thumb drives and Drop Box) to our A/V liaison at the A/V hutch so we could review the slide show to gauge against the script and make sure everything matched up. I'd used the same "fancy font" in the slide deck we'd used for our invitations for visual cohesion. Well, guess what? I know this may sound so elementary....but because I designed the original on my desktop and we were using the A/V company's laptop at the event...they didn't have this particular font in their system! (This was years before wi-fi availability in hotels) At this point, we're two hours out from showtime and had to redo the entire presentation. Thankfully, this was a quick fix for our A/V partner and a huge learning experience for me that changed how I approached designing slide decks forever more. (The experience also piqued my curiosity to become more intelligent about stage production overall...and that's another story for another time, I promise!) As power point programs have become easier to work with, I'm still surprised how often I go to programs and events that are so elegantly designed...and then the lights go down for the presentation and up pops a bland, boring slide deck. The visual experience at events matters. What the audience SEES while listening can make a difference in what they take away from the event. And, I say this with the caveat that listening is most important. Use the slides sparingly to drive a point home. Carry the "branding" for your event all the way through...

  • Acknowledge Your Company/Organization: Include the company or associations logo on the bottom left or right on EVERY SLIDE. (Make it small so it doesn't compete with the main slide copy)

  • Brand The Event: Have an event logo? Use it on the welcome slide as a standalone and then, if space permits, slot that baby in on every slide (smaller), either alongside the company logo on the bottom or at the top right.

  • Sponsor Loops: Providing exposure for sponsors makes them happy! Create a SEPARATE slide deck (that can have a totaly different look) as a loop that houses one sponsor logo on each slide. For fundraising events, interspers nuggets of information between the logo slides. Have the loop playing when the ballroom doors open and during dinner for visual embellishment. (And don't forget to reserve a "switcher" with the A/V company...)

  • Slide Bckground Colors: This is generally determined based on the logos you're working with. While most of us agree that a black background is oh-so-chic, it won't work if all the logos/artwork you have to place in the slide deck have a white background! Always ask if artwork with a clear background is available and build that file for ultimate design freedom. And if you're stuck with a bunch of logos with white backgrounds, well...wait for it...the background color needs to be white!

  • Fonts: I learned my lesson the first time! Now I always connect with the A/V contact BEFORE I begin designing slide decks to tell them which font I desire to use and learn if the font is in their existing system. At that point, if it's critical to use a specific font to brand the event, we make sure they have the font in their system. And if matching fonts doesn't matter, then I always go with Century Gothic because it's a CLEAN, SIMPLE and ELEGANT font to use! (And I use Georgia or Times New Roman italicized to break up copy or emphasize something)

  • Slide Deck Sizing: This one's a biggie now! WIDE-SCREEN is becoming the norm in venues and A/V equipment. Guess what? If you don't ask the A/V partner what size screens are being used BEFORE you begin laying out the presentation, you may be in for a big surprise! Wrong sizing means the presentation will look stretched or narrow on the screen.

  • Embedding Videos: Nowadays, having a short video to show is pretty normal. HOW that's done can be tricky! If you embed the video into the slide show for the sake of cohesion (and the A/V company isn't using "switchers") remember this: When you go to test the video in the presentation on your own computer, it does NOT guarantee that the embedded link will work once you're onsite. If the video is linked to a web address, that means the venue must have speedy Wi-Fi for you. The safest thing to do? Spring to pay for switchers and let the video stand alone!

The mirror side of what the audience "sees" is how you make them "feel" during the stage experience to stir emotions ...and I'll share my thoughts on that next week!

Want me to evaluate the slide decks you're currently working with or engage my services to makeover or juice up slide decks for you? Feel free to reach out and let's have a look at how to elevate the visual experience at your next event!

www.pattystern.com l patty@groupdmm.com

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