"A" is for Affordance

"A" is for Affordance


Affordance is considered as the possibility of an action on an object or environment. There is an intuitive nature to this. For example, a chair "affords" being sat on. The design of the chair itself suggests the action of "sitting". 

I'd like to twist this concept and applying it to designing slides, and the process of designing slides. How can we make our slides easy to use and intuitive for ourselves and our audience? Here are three ideas for how you can translate the concept of "affordance" into the practice of creating your presentation.

1. Use the 'Notes' Section

Keep your notes for your talk in the notes section of your slide. This makes lots of sense for a few reasons.

a) It keeps your notes OFF your slides, decluttering your slides and helping people focus on what you have to say

b) If it is the case that your slides may need to be presented by someone else (Eg. preparing a group presentation or training/teaching slides), it makes it much easier for the presenter to be able to review and understand the purpose of your slides and images when they are preparing ahead of time.

(Side Note; I wrote 'ahead of time' because I suggest that if you are ever delivering someone else's slide deck, it is very important to go over it yourself - create your own version and delete slides which you don't want to use and add slides in if needed to clarify the material. This is because you owe it to the people you are presenting to, and you shouldn't forget that you are also the person on the line here.)

c) In the 'presentation mode' of PowerPoint and Keynote, your 'notes' are displayed next to your slide, helping prompt you if needed and also provide an opportunity to put additional information you may not want to say, but find useful/relevant to know.

d) You can then utilise your notes section to create a 'handout' for your presentation and vice versa. You can easily put your script/handout from your talk into the notes section.

(Side Note; handouts are very important for longer presentations or content heavy presentations. It is like a 'spark notes' or 'cheat sheet' of the key messages and important information from your presentation that you would like your audience to have access to or know. It may include resources and links for references you make in your presentation. I'll do a post on handouts later.)

2. Sort & Name your files!

Sorting and naming files is a very useful habit to develop. It is a habit  because it takes practice and effort to develop but once comfortable with this, it can feel automatic. This includes not just your presentation but also the resources, videos and pictures you use. 

One hack that I use in designing presentations is having a "Graphics for Design" folder where I build me own collection of useful images and photographs that I use in presentations (And may later reuse). It is a good idea to include the source of the image/creator and ideally a keyword that may help you fish the picture out.

For example "firework_unsplash_morgansessions.jpg" is the tells me it will be a picture featuring a firework, from the website unsplash, by the photographer Morgan Sessions. This is also good practice to make it easier to credit sources from pictures if required.

3. Contemplate your audience's perspective

Is your slide easy for your audience's use? Or perhaps more specifically, is it easy for your audience to see what's going on? It is important in designing your slide to consider where the placement of your text and graphics are, as well as the colours. Check out the floor/seating plan of your presenting room to figure out how many screens there will be, if there will be blind spots and where you will stand in relation to your slides. Ensure your audience can comfortably see both you and your slides. 

"A" is for Affordance is a post extrapolated from my recent talk at the "Speak like smacc" workshop at dasSMACC conference in Berlin. In this talk, I put together an "Alphabetical Adventure in Slide Design" and will be blogging through each letter/concept in more detail over the next few months. :)

- grace

Powerful Presentation [smaccGOLD]

Powerful Presentation [smaccGOLD]

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