A presentation style that’s sometimes called the Takahashi or Lessig method, involves putting just a word or two on a slide, usually with very large text. The text is used as a prompt, but also as a graphic. I wrote about it in a short post from 2004,
You can create stunning slides using large text and formatting the text in interesting ways — for example, with an outline or with no fill. Changing the slide background color is another technique that will attract attention.
So let’s look at some techniques for formatting striking text.
Make the text big and bold
The first and most obvious technique is to make the text big and bold.
Here we have a slide with the word, “Listen.” It could refer to employee relations or to selling.
This slide uses the Title layout and the text is 60 pt, which is pretty big, but the text is still lost on the slide and not very striking, even though I changed the font from the default Calibri Light to Calibri.
Here, I’ve increased the size of the text to 150 pt. When you click the Font Size box, the largest size is 96 pt, but you can type any number you want in the text box instead of choosing from the drop-down list.
Add an outline
I’ve also added a text outline. To do this,
- Select the text.
- Click the Shape Format tab
- In the WordArt Styles section, click Text Outline and choose a color. You can also choose Weight and increase the thickness of the outline. I’ll talk more about that in a minute.
Once you have an outline, consider removing the text fill. Especially with a thick fill, this can be a nice effect.
To remove the fill, again select the text, click the Shape Format tab, and in the WordArt Styles section, click Text Fill, No Fill. Here’s the result.
You can make text bolder by clicking the Bold button on the Home tab. I’m sure you know that. But you can also make text bolder by adding a same-color outline and increasing the outline’s weight as I just described.
Here, the font is Candara. The leftmost slide is regular text, the middle one is bold, and the rightmost slide has been thickened by adding a 7 pt outline.
Change the background color
You get a totally different feel when you change the background color. Black is very common and it gives the impression of being modern and cool, but try out other colors as well.
The black background is very different, right?
A black background with white text will always be striking, but experiment with colorful backgrounds, too. The feeling is very different. A bright color will feel more cheerful and upbeat.
Here’s one more treatment to try — a black background with text that has a white outline and no fill. I think this is one of the most striking and interesting options. You’ll want to increase the weight of the outline, using the instructions I gave above. Here’s that look:
Try them all and see which you like best!
Use an interesting font
When you’re focusing on a word or two, you might as well add interest with a non-default font. After all the text is the only thing on the slide! Here are some variations, but try out others to see which ones you prefer.
Animate the text
Did I write that?
Usually, I hate animated text, especially text that flies in. But that’s when you have a few words on the slide and people are trying to read it while it’s still coming in. Most animated text is annoying and distracting and there’s some research that shows that people remember less, which makes sense because that’s what happens when you distract people from your content.
BUT, when you’re using text as a graphic and especially when there’s just one word, maybe 2-3 words, it’s a different story. Animation can add a touch of whimsy and you’ll be explaining the slide. So, after the initial animation, the text will stay still and people will be able to actually listen to what you’re saying.
This slide uses the Wave Emphasis animation, something I ordinarily would never do with a significant amount of text. I’ve made the wave slower than the default so you don’t miss it!
I think that the effect of the Wave animation is to make your audience pay attention, which is a way of making them listen. Since that’s the point of the slide, it seems relevant and appropriate.
What do you think?
Next steps for you
Create some slides using this style of 1-3 words on a slide and nothing else. Experiment with the text formatting. At the very least, you’ll learn something about the text formatting settings.
Or duplicate an existing presentation and change its style to use these principles. Do you think it works?
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