October 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
By: Casey Schaak
PowerPoint has become a staple in the presentation world. PowerPoints are easy to create, update and transport. Not to mention they can be found on almost every computer. But with the regularity of use of these computer-based slides, it’s easy to fall into bad habits and thus, create a less-than-ideal presentation.
Don’t fall into a PowerPoint slump – make the best of this extremely useful presentation tool by following these important content and design tips to keep your presentation clear and effective.
The most important part of a PowerPoint presentation is content. Follow the steps below to make sure you are presenting the right content in a concise way:
- Before deciding on the design of the PowerPoint, first define your objective and the key points you want to get across. Also, keep your audience in mind and remember that your presentation must be geared to them – their familiarity with the topic and what is of interest to them.
- Create an outline to ensure the messages are consistent and the structure of the presentation is solid.
- Limit the content. Follow the rule of six: six words per line and six lines per slide.
− Go through your information and narrow down the points so only the
most important information is on the slides.
− Avoid using complete sentences on slides. Cut paragraphs down to
sentences, sentences into phrases and phrases into key words.
− You can fill in any details during your presentation, but every word you
say should not also be on the slides.
- Keep wording clear and simple, use active visual language and cut any unnecessary words.
Slides are meant to support the speaker, but aren’t supposed to be the main focus of the presentation. When designing a presentation, avoid clutter and establish a professional and consistent layout. Follow the design tips below to create an effective look and feel for your PowerPoint presentation:
- Create a clear and consistent theme and color scheme throughout the presentation by using a template within PowerPoint, creating your own or using a company template provided for this purpose.
- Use high-contrast fonts and backgrounds to make text stand out.
- Keep the background consistent. Complicated backgrounds make it difficult to read the text.
- Avoid flashy, distracting animation or sound effects. The focus should be on the presenter, not animation on the screen.
− If text moves, keep it simple and consistent throughout the
− Avoid using movement transitions between slides, or keep it consistent.
- Always practice your presentation on a large screen, one similar to what you will be presenting on, to make sure all fonts, graphs and images are clear.
- Use a font that is big enough for the audience to easily read.
− Font should be 24-32 point size, with titles 36-44 point size.
- At most, use only two fonts per slide. One for the title and one for the other text.
− Sans serif fonts (Arial or Helvetica) are generally easier to read than
serif fonts (Times New Roman).
- Don’t use too many different colors in the text – two or three at most.
- Avoid all upper-case letters. Upper and lowercase letters are easier to read.
- Use left or right text alignment – centered text is difficult to read.
- Use bullets to present information clearly.
Graphics and Charts
- Graphics should balance the slide, be easily understood and complement the text without overwhelming.
− Avoid using more than two graphics per slide.
- Visuals, such as graphs, diagrams, photos and media clips, can be used to engage the audience in place of text. In this case, use only enough text to label the graphic.
- Use the same style graphics throughout (cartoon, photographs, etc.).
- Use clip art sparingly and if possible, avoid using PowerPoint clip art, as this is commonly used and the audience has most likely seen these images before.
- Charts are a great tool to visually present information.
− Pie charts should be used to show percentages.
− Vertical bar charts should be used to show changes in quantity over
− Horizontal bar charts should be used to compare quantities.
− Line charts should be used to demonstrate trends.
Once you’ve established the content, designed the slides and finalized your PowerPoint, make sure to proof read your slides for potential errors and practice giving your presentation.
By following these tips, you are now ready to give an effective PowerPoint presentation – good luck!
July 24, 2012 § Leave a comment
Written By John Grossman, Summer Public Relations Intern
With more sensory stimuli present in everyday society, the battle for your audience’s attention is more challenging than ever. Because of this, simple text-only releases just don’t cut it anymore. Your releases need a spark that will captivate your audience’s attention, and nothing works better for this than images and other multimedia. The power of visuals and imagery can be seen by Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram, a social media image hosting site, for a cool $1 billion. However, despite the attention and precedence of visuals in society, the majority of public relations content remains plain text on a plain background distributed through the same channels. The monotony of it all not only bores eyes, but also readers. The simple reliance on words to convey a story and paint a picture in the audience’s mind is currently the method of choice, and drastically inefficient compared to some of the newer trends in PR. Here’s why you should get ahead of the game and start making your PR tactics a multifaceted approach:
- Multimedia content creates more results. In a recent analytic study, PR Newswire looked in-depth at what differentiates regular plain-text news releases with those that contain images, videos and other media sources. The results they found make it hard to believe that many PR professionals haven’t made a visual switch yet. Their analysis showed that the inclusion of many media types in press releases garnished 77% more views than releases with just text. If you aren’t sure if visuals are right for you, this should help persuade you in the right direction. In order for your content to stay at the top it doesn’t just need to sound good, it needs to look good too.
- Social media loves visuals. By including visuals in your releases, you are creating more shareable elements than a simple text release would have. These shareable images make their way onto different social media networks, driving traffic to your releases from more than one place. In the past, most traffic is gained through search engines. Now that each media source is different, the audience can be reached without detailed searching, once again driving up views and the total reach by your work. With a share rate of three times that of text-only releases, multimedia should be a mainstay in your future work.
Now, you may be thinking that this all sounds great, but you have no idea how to implement visuals into your daily work. It’s not just you thinking this. Multimedia costs more, and as budgets for PR work remain tight, it’s hard to convince clients to spend more on what still is considered an unproven element. With the right tactics, however, you can show multimedia’s effectiveness and why it deserves funding. Utilize a few key elements in order to see such results:
- Simplify information. One of the biggest trends right now in visual PR are infographics. These visually appealing, simple to read displays convert raw data into something the audience wants to see. Infographics are able to convert complex information into simple bite-sized pieces that the audience can understand and share with their networks.
- Spice it up. It may not be the most exciting thing, but things like lists and basic information are needed. Rather than simply typing these details, turn your text visual. Replacing a basic list with a colorful display will add some life to your release. The reader will be drawn to it, and will view it further in-depth than just plain text buried within the release.
- Take advantage of social media releases. To help with the changing times, more tools are becoming available for PR professionals that make it easier and more effective than ever to include multimedia content in releases. Pitch Engine is a service that turns a traditional press release into a multifaceted approach that benefits both you and your client. This easy-to-use program creates a social media release that allows for embedded pictures, videos and other content. Since they are linked through social media, the releases are easy to share via Twitter and Facebook, widening your audience even further. Not only is it effective and easier to distribute than traditional release styles, Pitch Engine also helps boost your SEO, an important statistic that helps drive web traffic to your site. Most wire services also have templates for more multimedia options, so make sure to utilize these as well.
As the saying goes, pictures are worth a thousand words. An effective implementation of imagery and visuals can be worth even more than that to your clients by reaching larger audiences and multiple channels of distribution compared to simple text releases. By linking content creation, your business needs and your data, you can achieve a significant improvement in your releases and their reception.
How are you incorporating visuals into your PR plan?
November 16, 2010 § 1 Comment
Do you find yourself running out of interesting things to say at the water cooler? Have you fallen off of the social media bandwagon? Do you crave the latest industry data and market trends?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then congratulations, you’ve come to the right place!
At Vollrath Associates, it’s our job to stay up-to-date on the latest and greatest in the world of investor relations, public relations and marketing communications. We even know a thing or two about the environment.
And then an idea came to us…why not create a place where we can share our expertise and experiences with you? Since we’re still learning, we invite you to share your comments and give us plenty of feedback—the good, the bad and the ugly. As communications professionals, we love to give and take; it’s what we do best!
Check back early and often for best results. Continued reading of this blog may even cause you to learn something new. The Vollrath Associates company blog: finally, something worthy to tweet about.
Now, you’re probably wondering what exactly a public relations professional does in a typical day. We’ve got the inside scoop:
What is a Typical Day Like at a Public Relations Firm?
Busy! We are actively serving our clients and making sure they are getting the best possible exposure for all the meaningful things they are doing. Here is what a typical day can consist of for an account executive at VA:
8 a.m. Make coffee, check and answer emails, review the calendar and read the news. Tip: Caffeine helps – really helps. We have a saying around here: “I caffeinate, therefore I am.”
8:30 a.m. Coordinate any number of projects, including print quotes, photo shoots, mailings, events, design projects, etc. Tip: Working with the printer is sometimes like solving an SAT question. If you received a print quote for four different postcards at a quantity of 5,000 for each version at a total quantity of 20,000 for $1,775, why would five different postcards at a quantity of 5,000 for each version at a total quantity of 25,000 not be $2,218? I’ll let you mull that one over.
9 a.m. Attend staff meeting to discuss the status of client projects and brainstorm. Now after solving the math problem with the printer – more coffee is needed. Tip: It also helps to have a treat!
9:30 a.m. Research new technologies and social media platforms and update social media for our firm and clients. Yes, we get to be on Facebook and Twitter at work. Tip: Make sure you are not on a client’s Facebook page when you decide to update your Facebook friends about the really cool tattoo you got of your cat. Scratch that! That would never happen anyway because you are not on your personal Facebook page during work hours. Moving on…
10 a.m. Attend a photo shoot for an article we’ve secured for a client in a local publication. Tip: Ask the photographer to see the photos on her camera before she leaves. You may want her to take more photos at different angles. Try not to tackle the photographer in order to delete the photos you don’t like.
11:30 a.m. Meet with a client for lunch to discuss new opportunities such as speaking events, award nominations, newsletters, press releases, etc. Tip: Don’t speak with your mouth full – you might have a really good idea that gets lost somewhere between the bread and the ham.
1 p.m. Pitch reporters on potential ideas for stories and placements. Tip: Three emails and two phone calls in one hour to one reporter may classify you as a stalker.
2 p.m. Create media lists and issue relevant news. Tip: Target your audience. Your client who sells model trains is not going to be of interest to Shape magazine, unless there is a feature article geared toward women who build model trains for fun and exercise. Really?
3 p.m. Meet with the designer to review marketing materials for a client. Tip: Be really nice to your designers. If we’ve learned anything from Disney and their cartoon animations – it’s to always stay on your designer’s good side.
5 p.m. Write and edit a really cool blog. Tip: Be human (as opposed to the monster that comes out in all of us).
And once a quarter:
6 p.m. – 10 p.m. Write, edit and obtain approval for client earnings release. Tip: Bring a pillow for short naps between edits and final approval.
5 a.m. (next day) Make sure earnings release is distributed through the wire service and loaded to the client’s website. Tip: Definitely drink strong coffee to get through the rest of the day!
So what is the best thing about a typical day at a PR firm? Every day is different. Each day presents itself with new opportunities to multi-task and execute and develop our clients’ stories.