If you plan to use presentation software or handouts to supplement a speech, consider hiring a professional graphic designer to improve your materials.
With a small investment of time and money, you can use the expertise of a graphic designer to take standard presentation aids and make them—and by extension you and your speech—really stand out. Here’s how and why:
1. Early preparation
When you’re working with a graphic designer, you have to draft your materials ahead of time. This prevents procrastination, promotes the process of editing and refining, and greatly improves the final product (both the presentation aids and the presentation itself).
If you have an established relationship with a graphic designer and a short presentation (20 minutes or less), it generally takes less than a week explain your vision and provide feedback to your designer on versions of your materials.
When working with a new designer or on a longer or more detailed presentation, plan for several weeks to a month to finalize presentation aids together.
2. Modernizing your look
Still using a template from PowerPoint or Prezi? It’s time to update your look. A graphic designer can build a custom template that is modern and unique and that has fonts, colors, and logos consistent with your organization’s branding. If your organization hasn’t refreshed its logo/branding in some time, a talented graphic designer can also help on that front.
3. Making your materials visual
Another advantage of working with a professional graphic designer is the focus on visual elements of presentation aids as opposed to text. It is never a good idea to read your slides to your audience. You should have a few words and phrases for context, but slides should have visual elements that make your point more memorable, interesting or understandable.
The best way to achieve that is by incorporating graphs, graphics, charts, photos and videos. A graphic designer will help you create or refine such elements in your presentation.
4. Adding a set of eyes
In addition to polishing the visual elements in a presentation, a good graphic designer also provides another set of eyes to help catch typos, stylistic inconsistencies, unclear text or labels, or excessive jargon.
It makes sense to have several colleagues or friends edit your presentation aids, but a trusted graphic designer can provide a disinterested set of eyes.
5. Raising the bar
When you work with a graphic designer to improve presentation aids, you will enhance the entire presentation. Having pride in your slides and/or handouts often translates into better preparation and more rehearsals, which in turn increases your level of comfort with the presentation and your confidence in front of an audience.
Depending on the background and experience of your graphic designer, you can hire one for anywhere from $35 to $150 an hour (though some run as high as $350 an hour). If you want to raise the bar for your presentations or shine in a make-or-break speaking situation, allocate a little time and money to work with a professional graphic designer.
Christine Clapp is president of Spoken with Authority.