Learning the simple principles in this post can start to transform your visual aids and dramatically improve the effectiveness of your presentation communication.

Research into how our eyes move when we scan a document or a slide has shown the following patterns:

  • Western people’s eyes go first to top left corner of the page.
    (This is a learned behaviour known as a conditioned carriage return)
  • The second move is a left to right sweep (reflexive cross sweep)

OK – that’s all very interesting but what’s it got to do with my PowerPoint presentation. Well it’s really important because, using these principles you can design slides which require the minimum number of eye sweeps making your slides easier and quicker to read.

The golden rule of slide design is “Don’t make your audience work”.

Applying this principle:

  • Use pictures to illustrate your messages. These can be taken in, in a single eye sweep.
  • If you must use text on your slides keep it clear and simple (maximum of four bullet points per slide and four words per point). This will allow your audience to take in the whole slide in one eye sweep and then return to you.
  • If you have to have more than four bullets, reveal them line by line using an animation build. Choose a left to right wipe animation as this follows the natural eye movement pattern.

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