You’ve probably heard about the concept of minimalism, and perhaps you love it. You surely wouldn’t be alone if you did!
When you need to dig through the Internet for specific information, which search engine do you use? Chances are very high that you use Google. Google’s homepage is a model of minimalist simplicity: a logo, a search field, and that’s about it. You came to search, and that’s what they give you. It’s easy to stay focused and go after your objective.
To illustrate this idea of minimalism a bit further, here’s a question for you: If you were to receive three mobile phones as gifts, which brand would you prefer? Many people would choose an iPhone - not just for its “cool” factor, but also (and maybe mainly) for its sleek, simple design and uncomplicated functionality.
Minimalism has gradually made its way to prominence in different fields, including user interface and hardware design, as in the examples above. It’s neither the flashiest nor the most popular design trend, but its influence continues to penetrate since it spotlights what truly matters: purpose. Let’s discuss how this concept can be applied to slide design.
#1: Remove unnecessary elements
Minimalism is often associated with the phrase, “Less is more.” While it essentially captures what the concept stands for, there’s a need to debunk a common but incorrect notion. “Less” doesn’t mean “lifeless.” It doesn’t mean absence of illustrative elements. “Less” means picking out only the necessary components, and putting them to good use. Check how this slide from our globalization deck conveys how common methods of communication have changed over time.
While working on your slides, ask yourself this question every time you insert an image, change the color, or reposition text boxes: “Does this reinforce my message?” If it doesn’t, move on without it. The fewer elements are competing for your audience’s attention, the more straightforward your slide will be, and the more likely it is to connect and communicate. This is especially important whey your objective in presenting is for the audience to comprehend certain specific concepts and messages.
#2: Explore symbolism
Presenters always aim to create audience impact, and one of the best ways to achieve it is through symbols. A well-chosen symbol instantly conveys a message or tells a story without wordy explanations. Take a look at Baskin Robbin’s logo. At first glance, it’s just a couple of letters in two colors. Look more closely, and you notice that the pink parts of the letters form the number 31 – the well-known number of ice cream flavors Baskin Robbins shops offer every day. Simple, yet remarkably creative.
When designing slides, think about your topic and the objects and colors associated with it. Explore every possible clever relationship you can add. Look for ways you could replace big ideas with simple symbols. Symbols can significantly reduce the amount of text a slide needs, without sacrificing comprehension. Below you’ll see an example of how we’ve used symbols in a slide about depression.
If you need help getting a grip on this approach, here’s a simple trick. Go to Google, type in your presentation topic, and click search. Instead of reading through the list of website results, select the “Images” category. The results are almost sure to give you some ideas about symbols you could employ in your slides.
#3: Be generous with white space
In graphic design, white space is sometimes referred to as “negative space” – but that doesn’t mean it’s pointless! When you add more space to your slides, you’re giving the viewers “room to breathe,” visually and mentally. That allows closer focus on the most important element present. To illustrate this point, look at this slide taken from our Behavioral Economics presentation.
The first thing you have probably noticed is the four different types of wallets. If you were to focus on this area for a few more seconds, you’d might find yourself choosing which one you like best. Even if you don’t read the text on the right, you’ll probably still have the idea that this slide is about options. How do you understand all this? White space. (Or, in this case, pink space. The point is, there’s a lot of empty space.) It draws your attention to the slide’s most important and compelling elements – those wallets and the choices they represent.
Over to You
Have you been successful using minimalism in presentation design? We’d love to hear some tips on how you used it, and the results you achieved.