Are simplicity and utility valuable assets in a presentation? Sometimes. Structure and design the presentation to make it neither grander nor plainer than the task it is created to handle.
Susan says, “This is a very well-used oil can. In today’s disposable world, it would have been dumped long ago because it is scratched and dented and old. And it isn’t flashy, or elegantly designed. It is just practical, nearly indestructible, and utilitarian. None of these values is at the top of today’s list of must-haves. It does what it was designed to do very well. It has very few moving parts, all of its functionality is plain to see and there is no need to puzzle over how to use it. It’s easy to fix if it breaks. It is simply what it needs to be. It gets the job done quickly, without fuss, excess, or drama. And that is why it is still in use. It works without issue. It doesn’t have to be more than it is — and it isn’t.
What Can An Oil Can Teach About Presenting?
For some presentations where the focus is clear, where selling isn’t on the agenda, and where busy people seek information they can use and take with them back to work, simple utility is a great approach. Don’t over endow a utilitarian presentation with decoration or flourishes. But just because it is plain doesn’t mean it can be boring or poorly plotted so protect it from excessive by bulleted lists, silly transitions. Quite the opposite in fact. Look again at the oil can and how its design supports and instructs its user: pick it up by the handle (check), place the tip of the wand where the oil is needed (check), pull the lever to pump the oil (check), refill when empty (check). Like a simple presentation, no time is wasted, no struggle is needed to understand the point and the action requested. When you have to create a simple presentation, think of this lowly oil can, beautiful in its own way.”
Lucia says, “Susan has used this photo to make her point. This is exactly how you would use a photo like this to highlight your point in your presentation making sure your design fits your topic.
Hidden gems of design
Now, let’s take a closer look at the photo. There are some interesting design elements hidden here. The first thing we see is the simplicity of the scene. A lot can be said about keeping your design simple. You want to enhance your information, not distract people from it. Be careful of too much eye candy. It can be deadly. Now look at the overall composition. One of the elements of a good composition is to have a focal point in the foreground. Here, the oil can fulfills that nicely. Because the oil can is sitting on a bench handily ready for use, we can assume it’s used to lubricate the machine in the background. Because of this, we see more than a pretty picture. We see an example of functionality. But the bottom line, for me, is the artistic composition of this photo. There’s one element in the foreground, the background it blurry to add a nice effect, and the overall scene is simple creating a strong composition.
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