Worboys! The committee of easy reading presentations :)

One of the chapters of my next book (you didn’t know about it?  sign up for updates at http://presentationgenius.launchrock.com) is all about fonts in presentations and which ones to use. I’ve spent forever reading up on it and – sadly – it’s all a bit confusing. I’ve even gone back to pretty much the definitive documents for legibility in the UK, the Worboys report on road signs. Can you imagine many places were legibility is more important than road signs? No, nor can I.

But what that got me to thinking about road signs in general and a few things seem pretty obvious about their design which can immediately be transferred to slide design:

  • they’re visible, clearly, from a good distance away and they’re visible in poor conditions too – when there’s too much light or when there’s not much
  • they’re instantly understandable – no time is wasted in thinking ‘what does that mean’ and no one needs to explain them to you
  • they’re absolutely clear – there’s almost no chance of misunderstanding them
  • the implications of what you need to do no that you’ve seen the road sign are obvious  – there’s a clear Call to Action, as it were
  • the signs are cross-cultural – there are no ‘insider’ assumptions in the design that you need to ‘get’

T-junction sign

Try this one, for example – a T junction coming up: it’s totally impossible to misunderstand it, right? And you know what you’ve got to do. Right?

So what am I getting at here? Simple.

Any slides in your presentations should be as effective a road traffic signs.

Take a look at your latest slide deck and ask yourself, honestly, does it pass the ‘traffic sign test’?


Bloody awful presentation slide

Bloody awful presentation slide

What’s the word on this one, then? Does it pass?

Do yours?   I like to think that most of mine do, but there are a couple I can think of right now that won’t work unless I’ve got a lot of punch in my projector – in other words, they don’t stay good slides in poor conditions. Time to stop writing my blog post and get to work with my graphics editing program to increase image contrast and brightness :)

What’s your favourite traffic sign test failure?

Simon is one of the UK's most highly regarded presentation skills trainers and professional speakers in the fields of presenting, confidence and emotional resilience.