Tips to Make Good Slides for Engineers

Tips to Make Good Slides for Engineers

Sep 26, 2021·

4 min read

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Most of engineers I met are introverts. They tend to focus only on their tasks, e.g. coding, designing, etc. There is a fact that it is difficult for them to express or present their ideas, and making slides is more important if they want to become leaders. To have good slides, we need 2 things: content and visualization. This post will give some tips, and help you visualize better.

The example slides are here (using Google Slides)

The content of this post has 4 sections (remember to highlight the most important part):

  • Warm up: A short demonstration
  • Purpose: The main purpose
  • Ideas: 6 basic tips
  • Conclusion: Just summarize what are covered

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Let's play a small game. How many "3" on the below sequence of numbers?

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I guess you take at least 20 seconds to count the number of 3s, and your answer may be wrong. Let's try again with the below slide:

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Counting faster? Yes. There are no differences between of 2 slides in terms of content, but the 3s are colored as red. This shows us an important thing: With the same content, audiences will perceive what we show faster if we have great visualization. So, the main purpose of this post is how to win all games with visualization tips. The games are not only in presentation, they can be in any aspects of life, e.g. dressing, drawing, designing, etc.

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Tip #1: Use dark background for big room and light background for small room. In a large conference, people's eyes will feel uncomfortable if there is a huge amount of light. Dark background will ease their eyes, and help people focus on shining objects on the slides. In the opposite side, audiences will feel difficult to read texts or images on dark background in the small rooms because the screen size is small too.

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Tip #2: Use Tip #1 in a flexible way. Change from dark to light background to gain people's attention on the screen - there may be some key content that we want our audiences read first. In contrast, change from light to dark background to gain people's attention on the presenter - there are some moment that we want the audiences keep their eyes on our gesture.

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Tip #3: Use 2 or 3 main colors and pick colors with color wheel. We are engineers, so there are some complex things that we have to do daily. We can emphasize the most interesting parts among complex objects easily with 2 or 3 colors. If using more than that, people are usually confused and hard to keep track all the things.

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Tip #4: Do not use a heavy text slide. Presenters tend to putting more text on the screen as they want to give more information to the audiences. But, people will read, and it is hard to keep their eyes off the screen. At least, not until their brains have digested what is on the slide. When the audience reads, they don’t hear the presenter. Audience may start writing. They want to remember things. This means that when text is put on a slide, chances are they will write down what’s on the screen. Audience is playing catch up. They want to hear everything presenters say and also read everything on the slides.

Don't use this:

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Use this:

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Tip #5: Use more images. A picture is more than a thousand words. Our brains are designed to interpret and remember better with images.

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Tip #6: Use full labels and legends for charts. We are engineers, and we often show charts, diagram, graph, etc. to present our results for team members and our bosses. It is not professional if using a chart that does not have descriptions, notations, or references.

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In conclusion, there are a lot of presentation skills to learn but great visualization helps every aspect of life. And I believe that engineer career path will be boosted up if we can make stunning presentation for our results and ideas.

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Thank you for your reading. Wish you all the best.