I was reading up on design on different blogs the other day, and came across an interesting article on food presentation: The Art of Styling a Dish. The interesting thing was that most of the concepts the author shared about food presentation, could as easily be applied to presentations.
I don’t know about you, but when I go to a restaurant that serves dishes with a nice presentation, I feel like the food tastes better for some reason. The same is true with information, it’s not the same to see information just thrown on a slide, like when I make sloppy joes at home, that when it’s carefully presented, taking care of structure, content and design; the brain feels information presented with good design “tastes” better, and consumes it more eagerly.
The article stated that when creating nice food design we had to keep in mind:
– The support
– The focal point
– The garnish
For food it’s the type of dish you are going to use, for presentations it’s the type of visual aids. We have, for some time now, associated presentations to PowerPoint, but you can use PowerPoint, Prezi, flipcharts or even props for a presentation. Decide which support helps you communicate your message better. The support you choose should enhance your message, not be the message. So even if you choose PowerPoint, don’t use it to hold the whole of your presentation, but to expand or illustrate what you are saying.
The focal point
The main point on each dish, the most important thing on the plate, what you are there to eat; that’s the focal point. Same thing in presentations, when you say you are going to talk about the importance of renewable energies, for example, that is what people expect to hear about.
The audience should not have to dig up you main point, you have to lay it out in front of them. If you are presenting that information on your visual aids don’t clutter the slide, give main points their own slide and explain them in one word or sentence so that people can instantly understand.
Colors are a delicate matter when designing a dish, you don’t want to use too many or inappropriate colors. When deciding on what colors to choose for your presentation always keep it simple. Make sure you have good contrast between your background and font color and choose one power color to draw attention and which will always be the same throughout the presentation
Flavors and Textures
The great thing of a well-designed dish is the mix of flavors and textures; equally a great presentation will have a mix of tones and feelings. As we all know it’s bad to be monotone in a presentation, but this doesn’t only apply to boring tones, it applies to all. Try to combine energetic moments with more solemn ones. When you pump up the energy and show your passion people are impressed and will listen to you, but if you keep that up for the entire presentation they will soon bore of the tone (or believe you are on drugs); on the other hand, when you switch to a quieter, more serious tone, to tell a story for example people are drawn in to what you are saying. The trick is to combine these and other tones in your presentation so that the audience is always engaged.
I love the example of decoration in food, because people don’t decorate a dish with clipart, do they? They use parsley, cherry tomatoes, a lemon slice… What do all of these things have in common? You can eat them. The decoration in your presentation has to be the information itself, something consumable. Don’t add pictures or clipart just for the sake of decoration, but format information to be well designed.
The article says: “the plate must have a balanced and clear appearance”. Think of this when designing your visuals.
That little extra that just gives the dish its character. How do you garnish your presentations? You can give a handout at the end, include a giveaway or even have a little competition. These details transform a simple presentation into an experience.