• Sridhar Rajendran

Day 19 — Looking pretty ain’t bad

Updated: Aug 23, 2018

You need to dress for the job you want

Image credit: Pexels

Design assignments are crappy and a huge time suck. One thing I learned from them is my presentations don’t look pretty. The fact that I liked reading product labels and patent filings for fun does not mean everyone enjoys it. In the attention economy, competing for eyeballs is the end game. So how do I convince someone to gloss over my presentation in 10 seconds?

My usual excuses are I am not good at visual design/I don’t like it/my work will speak for itself/I am entitled. Rather than complaining, picking up a few basic skills will yield better results. I hit Youtube and watched a couple of videos on making better presentations. There were a few good ones but none was comprehensive. I could follow the tutorial and re-create a presentation as-is. But faced with another situation, I would have a tough time adapting my skills.

If Anne Hathway could embrace fashion in The Devil Wears Prada, then I could make smashing presentations.

Image credit: GIPHY

Frustrated with Youtube, I checked out Skillshare. I found a couple of classes on making good presentations and tried 1 or 2 which were lacklustre. And then I found the course Presentation Design for Smart People by MJ Truong. This is the single best online class I have ever attended. The instructor was knowledgeable and taught quite well. I highly recommend this course for everyone — designer or not. Learning to organise your thoughts in a beautiful and coherent manner always comes handy.

To give an example of the improvement I made, here are two screenshots of the same slide before and after the course.

Before the course

After the course

Like any skill, you get better only when you keep working on it. I re-worked a couple of my old presentations which looked boring than an Income Tax returns statement. And the results were stunning indeed. In fact, learning how to make better presentations intuitively made me design better websites and apps. Fascinating how the brain connects the dots across different skills.

So if you come from a non-design background and make excuses that you cannot make a visually appealing presentation, stop it for your own sake. As my mentor Karthi says, “Humans are visceral creatures” and we need to appeal to those needs.

Complaining does not solve any problem. But showing up for work every single day and creating a 100 bad designs will take you one step closer towards your goals.