The top four things I learnt from Garr Reynolds’ workshop

Garr Reynolds and Olivia Mitchell
Garr Reynolds ran a day-long workshop yesterday in Wellington, New Zealand. I’ve devoured his blog, poured over his book and I was very excited about attending this workshop. Here are the top four things I came away with.

1. Beauty matters

Garr’s workshop was an aesthetic experience. His slides nourished my visual sense. It was like going to a contemporary art or photo exhibition. Beauty adds another dimension to your presentation. As a non-designer I feel empowered to create the same beauty in my PowerPoint slides.

2. Branding of slides

Garr does not “brand” his slides with a logo, but there is an aesthetic sense which pervades and unifies his slides. This comes from:

  • the fonts he uses
  • repeated design elements eg: the style of borders around his images
  • the consistent visual backdrop (the book cover image without the stones) he uses as a background to text when there is no image.

This is the way to brand slides. Corporate logos are visual clutter. If you have to have a logo, put it on the first and last slide only.

3. Choose visual metaphors carefully

Some visual metaphors are becoming cliches (just like clipart). For example, an image of people shaking hands to represent partnership. Garr’s advice is not to use the first visual metaphor that comes into your mind. Brainstorm first to generate some possibilities. That’s what the Duarte Design team do (Duarte are the creators of Al Gore’s slides in An Inconvenient Truth). When you go to istockphoto or your favourite photo site, look at how many downloads a photo has had – over 1,000 probably means that its turning into a cliche. John Windsor has a creative post on how to freshen up an otherwise tired visual metaphor.

4. Use photo editing software

To create beauty and impact with your slides, the next step is to use photo editing software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements. This is a challenge for me – I’ve got the software but it takes me ages and some emotional frustration before I can produce anything. But as a result of Garr’s workshop I’m motivated to give it another go.

Thank you Garr for a stimulating and nourishing day.

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2 Comments

  1. Great to meet you Olivia. Had a wonderful time and Wellington rocks! You have a fantastic blog! Keep it up — very nice stuff indeed.

    Hope to see you in NZ again. Cheers! -g

  2. Great recap of what obviously was a terrific experience. And thanks for the nod.

    John