Many effective powerpoint slides begin with an Agenda slide, a slide that explains to your audience what topics you’ll be covering. While this may seem unimportant at first, there’s an important psychological trick behind this slide. “Priming” is a term used by psychologists to describe things like the Agenda slide. To “prime” your audience, you prepare them to receive information later on. Research has shown that audience who are primed remember information much better than audiences who are not primed. Additionally, if you’re presenting on a controversial topic, audiences who are primed are more likely to change their minds in favor of your ideas. Regardless of your purpose, it’s important to include an agenda slide in your powerpoint presentation to prime your audience.
Step 1: Choosing an Image for your Agenda Slide
An effective image can help grab your audience’s attention, but be careful not to make your presentation too busy. Effective images need to match the setting you find yourself in. If you’re speaking to busy professionals, a conference table might make an effective background. If you’re presenting to government officials, shaking hands that show agreement might be a good choice. No matter the circumstance, a strong, clear image can set the right tone and make your agenda slide clearer.
One thing to watch out for, though, is a background image that makes it hard to read your text. Some images use lots of different colors and shades, and this can make your text difficult to read. The point of an agenda slide is the text, so any image that washes out your text shouldn’t be used.
If you’ve found the perfect image but you’re unsure if it will wash out your text, there are some steps you can take.
Step 2: Glow Edges for clarity
Some images make it difficult to read text. In order to combat this difficulty, designers have created an option within powerpoint to help clarify the text and feature the content you want your audience to read. This effect, called “glow edges” changes the way an image looks to make it slightly less noticeable.
In this sample image, text wouldn’t show up very clearly despite the visual being just what we are looking for.
To use this effect, select your image, click on “format” and scroll down to “Artistic Effects.” The final choice is “Glow Edges” which will adjust your image.
You may notice with your image that this doesn’t quite blur it enough. That’s okay. The next step will help to make your text even clearer.
Step 3: Adding more Clarity
The key component in clarity is contrast. You want the color of your text to be as different from the color of your background as possible. A subtle background makes for a great agenda slide which will effectively prime your audience.
To get strong contrast, insert a shape over the entire background of your image.
Next format that shape by giving it a solid fill and then lowering the transparency of that shape to around 15%. This will allow the image to show up, but it will also provide some contrast. Take a look at this example that shows how a transparent shape can make text easier to read. Please note, this is an example only, and a pink background shouldn’t be used in a professional setting.
As you can see in the above picture, with a transparent shape over part of the background, it becomes much more subtle and, as a result, much easier to read. Different versions of powerpoint have different capabilities, and it may be the case that your version of powerpoint won’t allow you to make shapes transparent. This is true of all mobile version of powerpoint, so unless you’re on a windows or iOs device, you’ll have to be more careful in selecting images with strong contrast. Choose especially dark or light images and those that have consistent colors throughout.
Step 4: Mini-backgrounds for further Clarity
While a whole slide needs a background, you can make individual items on your agenda slide pop even more by placing the text within boxes. Look at this sample slide:
In this sample, the text inside of the shape has a more professional look than the text outside of the shape. The overall effect of having a shape, whether it’s a circle, square, triangle, or cylinder, is to make your agenda seem more professional and intentional. Even if you have a great idea, nobody will take your idea seriously if you haven’t put in the proper amount of effort to show that you take your idea seriously. Putting thought into the background of the overall slide and thought into mini-backgrounds that highlight text shows your investment in the idea. This, along with priming, is a great way to make a wonderful impression.
Step 5: Present like a Pro
While you may have the perfect slide, it won’t do you any good if you have a sloppy presentation. Remember, the agenda slide is there to prime your audience, not to serve as a script for you. To use it effectively, you’ll have to do more than just read off the items in a list. Briefly explain each item like you are a tour guide. It’s not a bad idea to do the same thing at the end of your presentation as well. That way, you get your ideas across three times. First you prime your audience by explaining what you will be presenting. Having strong visuals in your agenda slide help with this step, and it also helps to remind you of everything you need to talk about. Next, your present your material in a clear, concise, professional manner. You’ll likely have a number of slides specifically talking about each item on your agenda slide. Finally, you remind your audience of what you just explained to them. It’s helpful here to have a recap slide so your audience can review along with you. This approach along with excellent looking slides will help you achieve your goals in the workplace.