In my years as a CEO and then in my time coaching entrepreneurs at Astia, I can't tell you how many truly horrible PowerPoint presentations I have seen. I just want to scream, "Hey everyone we are in the 21st century - visual communication is a fundamental skill!"
The fundamentals of visual communication should be taught in every high school across the country. We communicate today through both language and pictures. If you haven't learned these skills by the time you graduate college, please take a little time to teach yourself. I'm not saying everyone needs to be a graphic designer. (Though I do think more people may should hire them.) But just some fundamental layout skills will go a long way to helping your communication with prospective employers, investors, and the media.
As I coach entrepreneurs I invariably find myself having to teach them the basics of graphics design, which is not the best use of my time or theirs. But it is important for their success. We finally have some amazing tools that let us communicate more effectively than ever before, but for the visually uneducated it actually hinders their communication. A poorly designed slide or graphic confuses the audience and distracts from the message.
Am I going to see your presentation? You can help me keep my blood pressure low and keep your audience attention high by reviewing these resources before you create your presentation:
Great LiveBinder collection of websites on the subject:
Some great books on the subject:
The Non-Designer's Design Book: Design and Typographic Principles for the Visual Novice
White Space is Not Your Enemy: A Beginner's Guide to Communicating Visually through Graphic, Web and Multimedia Design