I am, without a doubt, a crappy visual designer. I would love to be one of those arty types who can sketch out a fabulous cartoon on a napkin, mock up a fresh new website design in an hour, or come up with a fabulous logo treatment on a dime. But I’m just not.
Me? I get flummoxed when choosing what font to use in a presentation.
And speaking of presentations, it’s there that I really get stuck. All of mine just suck. Any engagement achieved through my presentations is solely due to my personality and depth of knowledge, and not at all to the presentation itself.
I work mainly in PowerPoint, which is a horrible tool for me. It gives me too many options that I never know how, or when, to use. Do I put in a clever photo? Where should I place it? Do I want to include a cool effect? Ooh, I can change the background color? And how about using some slide transitions? You get the gist.
Even when I’m massaging plain text I’m an epic fail. I’m the queen of bullet points, which is great for web copy but the kiss of death with PowerPoint. Everything is boringly linear. My PowerPoints look pretty much like a summary document up on the screen, not like a fun, interactive, grab-your-attention-and-don’t-let-go experience. And I know the latter is possible. I work with some ridiculously talented designers whose PowerPoints are more entertaining than a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
Yes, I’ve tried reading the books. For example, I read Cutting-Edge PowerPoint for Dummies. It showed me how to use the way-too-many-functions that already flummoxed me. Then I was told Slide:ology was the answer. And boy, it was inspiring! Look at all those super-cool slides that creative people have built! But it didn’t stick. When I picked up my mouse, I was back to bullet-pointing Helvetica.
The latest advice to come my way has been, “Switch to a Mac! Then you can use Keynote.” I think Keynote looks fabulous, but I don’t think it’ll solve my lack-of-visual-talent problem. It’ll just be another tool to enable my failure. I’ve heard that Prezi might be the way to go — it sounds easy and is supposed to “create astonishing presentations”. I’m all for anything that can help, so maybe I’ll give it a shot.
And if it works out, maybe I’ll put together a presentation explaining it.