Video Webcasting Guidelines Part 1: Building Slides

Video Webcasting Guidelines Part 1: Building Slides

This is the first in a series of blogs from the Hive Streaming team on Webcasting Best Practices. The first is by Stephen Condon, our new Vice President of Global Marketing. Stephen has extensive experience in the digital media industry and has conducted numerous webcasts. What follows are some of the best practices he has picked up over the years. Future blogs will outline best practices for preparing your environment for live video webcasting and how to be more effective on camera. Please send any feedback or input to or reach out to Stephen via twitter @streamingguy

We all know that a presentation should attempt to tell a story and be structured with an attention-getting beginning, a contrasting middle, and a powerful ending (see more in this Harvard Business Review article). However, this blog isn’t about the story you tell but some guidelines for constructing your slides to help you communicate your story in the most compelling and professional manner.

Let’s start with whom we hope to emulate. Steve Jobs was the master communicator in that he was able to deliver a simple message in a manner that would inspire employees, the media, and consumers. His slides didn’t deliver his presentation, rather they complemented and accentuated his key messages.

So what can we learn from Steve and other effective presenters?

  • Keep it simple
    One idea or concept per slide. Your audience will have trouble reading and listening, so think of a your slide as a billboard and communicate one simple idea or concept per slide. This will help the viewer concentrate on what you are saying.
  • Light backgrounds generally work better
    Slides with white backgrounds and dark text generally communicate more clearly.
  • Use a large font size
    Video and the encoding process can distort text, so use larger fonts and fewer words. We recommend 36-point type and not smaller than 20-point. However, keep in mind that readability is key, and a larger font doesn’t always translate into increased legibility. More space via lower point size often increases legibility.
  • Practice “less is more”
    Follow the 6 and 6 guideline – no more than 6 lines with 6 words on each line. Words on a slide compete against what you are saying for your audiences’ attention, so don’t distract them for long. Obviously, if each slide follows this rule you are likely to bore your audience to tears so the next bullet is critical.
  • Show don’t tell
    Use graphs and images wherever possible and keep them simple and high resolution. Don’t start off your presentation with a page full of bulleted points. Instead, get attention with a graphic. When including graphs, focus on the meaning of the data and exclude the rest.
  • Avoid bullets
    Reserve bullets for the order of processes and maybe for specifications. Try and use a graphic or short phrase.
  • Don’t bold, highlight, unnecessarily capitalize, or underline
    I started my career in advertising and copywriters and art directors would get extremely upset if copy (also known as text) in an ad was highlighted in any way. Highlighting copy just serves to have the reader’s attention drawn to that word, neglecting other copy. This is especially the case in a slide. If you need to bold, capitalize or highlight copy then you probably have a superfluous copy on the slide.
  • 16:9 slide format is recommended
    As it looks modern and gives you more space.
  • Be careful with slide transitions and builds
    These can be difficult to broadcast, error prone, and often distracting. We recommend building the transition using additional slides.
  • Use high-resolution images
    This decreases the likelihood of distortion.
  • Use a consistent layout, font, color scheme, and background for each slide.

In conclusion, use your slides to guide your presentation and to emphasize key messages. Keep your slides simple and concise and use graphics wherever possible.

Thanks for reading! Look for upcoming posts on other aspects of conducting a successful webcast. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have feedback or need help delivering successful webcasts.

Stephen Condon