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Archive for the 'four slide sales pitch' Category

What We Did Last Time

Last issue, we imposed some order on Jeffrey's slidedeck, turning the first set into the second.

In the process, we improved readability but, almost more importantly, by placing design elements consistently from slide to slide, we made it easier for the audience to concentrate on what matters (the numbers and text) and ignore what doesn't (where the numbers and text are located).

Does This Matter To Teaching?

I suspect a lot of teacher-readers are hopping past these design posts. This isn't necessarily a mistake. There isn't enough time in the day to chase all our interests and design might not ping loudly enough off your radar.

But, friend, design had better ping somewhere. Because these days, How Good Your Ideas Are has yielded some ground to How Good Your Ideas Look.

These moments break my heart at conferences: a speaker whose ideas are head, shoulders, knees, and toes above the rest but whose dress code, timid vocals, or sloppy PowerPoint put people off.

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One challenge, in particular, stood between our contestants and good design. Guesses?

The most sophisticated (and highest ranking) designs used a single large image on each slide. Whether that image was a photo or even a lot of empty space (an image of nothingness) didn't matter. A good image triggers reactions which profit the designer.

The problem then is how to fuse text to the images.

You all had plenty of solutions, some more successful than others:
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Retraction

Neil has abdicated his first place finish, leaving a first place tie between Ethan Bodnar and Paul Williams with Jeffrey Pierce coming in third place.

Neil bumped into a soft spot in our guidelines, using one of Keynote's prefabricated templates to assist his design. After some deliberation — and on the recommendation of Neil, himself — we decided this wasn't in the spirit of the competition.

This means:

  1. Neil's a real swell guy for bringing this to our attention.
  2. Keynote comes stocked with some amazing prefab templates.
  3. Ethan and Paul are entitled to the gift baskets described in the original first place announcement.
  4. Among other recommendations, Jeffrey had the most unique visual hook of the remaining contestants.

This doesn't mean:

  1. Neil's photography or writing is any less superb than we originally thought.

Thanks, apologies, it's still been great.

Related:

  1. The Contest Announcement
  2. The Final Entries

[Important: see the retraction.]

Neil Winton. First place. Recipient of a gift basket including:

  1. a subscription to Before & After magazine,
  2. a blog-ready banner,

    <a href="http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=333">
    <img src="http://blog.mrmeyer.com/wp-content/uploads/designcomp1.jpg" width="150" height="114">
    </a>

  3. an invitation to the judge's panel of future design competitions.

The decision as explained by judge Dan Meyer:

In a project already tightly wound by constraints, Neil added several more. Each slide carries a photo along the top, broken at the bottom (same place same time every time) by a caption. He justifies each caption by a fixed gray line, sets each caption in the same font, begins each one with "I learned," and ends each one with a year.

With all that, Neil has his design pinned down like a butterfly in a box. The effect is powerful and nevermore obvious than when you click through his slides quickly. With Neil's presentation, you spend less and less time each slide figuring out where he's stored his content (pictures at the top, captions at the bottom, the meat of the caption found just after "I learned") and more time enjoying it.

It's tempting to call his design "minimal." It certainly looks simple. But deciding to constrain an already-constrained assignment is a thorny task, one which layers questions upon questions. By my eyes, Neil has answered all of them well, forming a tidy division between form and content then bringing them back together with a beautiful earthy color palette, winning a difficult competition by making it even more difficult.

The judges invite Neil to deliver an acceptance speech here, perhaps correcting our speculation and explaining his design. Congratulations are in order either way.

Related:

  1. The Contest Announcement
  2. The Final Entries

Announcement Schedule:

  1. Second Place (tie): 09h00 PST
  2. Second Place (tie): 12h00 PST
  3. First Place: 15h00 PST

[Important: see the retraction.]

Ethan Bodnar. Tied for second place. The decision as explained by judge Dan Meyer:

Excepting his font selection, there isn't much locking Ethan's slides together. It's tough to feel disappointed, though, when the individual slides demonstrate such tight, formal skill.

Ethan compresses a semester of design instruction into four slides.

The first two are photographic cannonballs, powerful images which slam right through my quality control checkpoints. With his final slide he conjures up the same effect, only by exclusion, using empty space to accentuate his lists of life-completed and life-to-come.

The third slide at first seems like Text Gone Wild! but it is by far my favorite. Ethan includes so much text and he imposes so much order to it (there's some precision gridding at work here) the result is a text-heavy slide which (oddly) begs you not to read it but just to look at it.

Ethan's point with slide three isn't that, hey, I connect with artist Ben Frost. It's that he connects with a lot of people — more artists than bloggers, more bloggers than authors. Ethan manipulates our perception of his work so precisely, which is a skill I can't help but commend.

The judges invite Ethan to deliver an acceptance speech here, perhaps correcting our speculation and explaining his design. Congratulations are in order either way.

Related:

  1. The Contest Announcement
  2. The Final Entries

Announcement Schedule:

  1. Second Place (tie): 09h00 PST
  2. Second Place (tie): 12h00 PST
  3. First Place: 15h00 PST

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