Last week I moderated a webinar for the National Mango Board. I thought their presentation slide deck deserved a blog post, as it is a breath of fresh air in a world of boring, conventional corporate slide shows.
I uploaded the presentation to SlideShare.net and with any luck it will magically appear below this line for easy accessibility and reference:
If you don't see anything above this sentence, please use http://j.mp/nmbshare to view the slides in a web browser.
The content is not important for our discussion purposes. This is a presentation aimed at professionals in the mango growing, distribution, and retailing chain. It isn't built for end consumers.
I admire several things about the slide design. Even at a casual glance, flipping quickly through the slides, you are immediately caught by a sense of visual interest. The slides actually make you want to watch the presentation, just to see what's coming next. Colors are bold and bright. Text is used sparingly for the most part and allows the presenter room to talk about the subject matter rather than simply reading the words off the screen. Photographs help to support some points specifically, while tying other more general topics into the main subject matter of how the association promotes mango consumption.
What may strike many corporate communications directors as absolute heresy is the lack of a consistent layout template. Bold color stripes may be placed vertically or horizontally, filling space at differing percentages of the screen to complement the needs of the graphics and text on each slide. The Mango.org logo itself is multicolored, and all its colors are allowed for use in the layouts, along with other complementary colors that fit the general "feel" of the tropical theme.
Photographs are high resolution and look crisp and sharp, without feeling like typical posed stock photography knockoffs. White text can be presented in a consistent fashion no matter what the background through the simple use of a semi-transparent shading block that can go on top of a photograph or color bar as desired.
There is plenty of branding… The Mango.org logo appears on title slides and topic introduction slides. But it is not jammed onto every slide at the expense of visual clarity or impact. No viewer is going to forget the sponsor just because two slides go by without a logo on them.
Most design professionals would tell you to pick a single format for text content and stick with it. But the Mango Board allows some text to have bullets, some to have numbers, and some to appear as centered blocks. I never feel confused as a viewer.
You can't tell, because SlideShare throws away animations anyway, but these are the slides as presented. Animations become unnecessary… The visual changes that maintain interest and help recapture attention are built into the design inconsistencies themselves.
What strikes me is that even though each slide is different, the entire presentation feels cohesive and part of an overarching design aesthetic. As a matter of fact, the most jarring and out of place slide in the entire deck is slide #43 - It has a conventional layout on a plain background, with a couple of clipped graphic boxes just hanging around a sequence of bullets. Doesn't it feel boring and primitive compared to everything else in the presentation? Doesn't that slide look like every slide in your corporate presentations?
My purpose in this post is not to micro-analyze every design decision in the presentation and to call out places where I would have raised the font by two points or shortened a sentence by two words. I'm hoping you will look at the design gestalt and ask yourself whether you could make your slides more arresting, attractive, and interesting so your audiences look forward to each click of the mouse, instead of yawning their way through text bullets on a white background, presented the same way on slide after slide. It's worth a thought!