Presentation Tips: How to make mobile friendly presentations

Welcome back to our article series on practical and short tips to help you create better presentations. 

So far, we’ve tackled the issue of compressing presentations, followed by some tips on how to make a presentation printer friendly. Now we’re going to dive into yet another topic that is often overlooked when creating a presentation and that is making sure your presentation is mobile friendly.

 

Why is this important?

We’re living in a world where smartphones have become ubiquitous (and for some people, their smartphone is even more than that, as it’s almost become an extension of their body). In 2020, for the first time ever, mobile internet traffic surpassed desktop traffic.

More and more businesses adopt a mobile first approach when it comes to their website, apps and overall user experience of their clients. So why don’t we apply the same logic to presentations too?

Whether we’re sending a presentation through email (either before or after a meeting), holding an online meeting or giving a webinar, high chances that someone from the audience will view it on their mobile device.

 

So here are some simple tips on how to create your own mobile-friendly presentation.

 

1. Larger Text Size

This is probably the most important guideline out of all and it makes sense why. If the text size is too small, your presentation is unreadable and people will stop paying attention.

So make sure your text sizes are large enough to be viewed on a mobile screen. But how large is “large enough” you may be wondering? 

Well I’ve done this quick experiment with various font sizes on my own phone to test it out. 

I put different sized-lines and took the picture from how I would see it. Feel free to judge yourself and see what is the smallest size that your eyes are comfortable with.

As a rule of thumb, I’d go with at least a 60 point size for headlines and a 30-32 point size for body content. You could probably get away with a bit smaller text, but I wouldn’t go smaller than 20 points.

 

2. Less is more

Due to the small size of mobile devices, you definitely don’t want to overcrowd your slides. Keep them simple, uncluttered and follow the cardinal rule of “1 idea = 1 slide”. I’d take that one step further and say even “1 sub-idea = 1 slide”

What do I mean by that? Well, let’s say you have a slide called “5 Success Factors for X” and typically you’d add all 5 points on your slide, along with some accompanying graphics like icons or numbers or pictures (we hope that by this point, you stopped using bullet points in your presentations).

But in a mobile version, after enlarging your text to be the minimum readable size, you might want to split those 5 points into 2 slides, or even have one success factor per slide. 

If you’re worried that your presentation will get too long in this case, then don’t. In the end, your audience will still see the same amount of content in the same amount of time, so why not at least space out that content for a better understanding?

 

3. Large images

When adding images to your presentation, make sure they are large enough so that the audience doesn’t have to squint to see them.

Ideally the image should occupy the whole slide and work as a background with minimal content on top of it. But if you need to add more than one image, make sure that each image takes up at least a quarter of the slide.

Because of this, I don’t recommend using more than 4 images on your slide, and if you need to use more (for example to showcase multiple products), just remember guideline #2 and split it up across multiple slides.

 

4. Show & tell, don’t write

As a result of guideline #2, you’d have to keep your slide content to a minimum. When thinking whether to keep a certain word or phrase, think of it from this perspective: is this something I can visually illustrate or represent with an image or icon?

Graphics don’t even have to be a literal representation of the content, but can be more subtle and indirect in order to cover more of the slide content while you explain the context

 

5. Make a higher contrast

Contrast is one of design’s key principles, and it plays an even bigger role on a smaller screen size. 

Make sure your slide content, whether it’s text, graphics, images or charts, has enough contrast between its different parts. Contrast doesn’t refer just to color contrast, but also contrast in size or placement.

A good way to tell if your presentation has enough contrast is to slightly squint your eyes when viewing your presentation on your mobile. If some colors get blended together or if pieces of text look the same when they shouldn’t (eg. a main point and a sub-point), then you have to increase the contrast of those elements.

 

6. Clean & simple charts & diagrams

Charts and diagrams can easily become overwhelming on small screens if you’re not careful. A standard chart in Powerpoint would have both axes, it would have a legend, a slide title, maybe some data labels or some trend lines and so on. If you have all of these elements, then it can become over cluttered and people won’t be able to properly distinguish them.

Try and think of any unnecessary elements and remove them. Remember that less is more. For example, if you have a bar chart, you should keep either your vertical axis or your data labels, you shouldn’t keep both.

 

7. No fancy stuff

For the purpose of a simpler and seamless viewing experience, don’t overdo it with animations and transitions. In fact, if they don’t serve a real useful purpose, just take them out completely (I’d argue that 80-90% of animations are useless beyond just being flashy and we rarely use them).

Without animations and transitions you will also make sure that who is viewing the presentation will have a minimum risk of the presentation lagging. Another way to achieve this is to just save your presentation as a PDF and send it like that.

 

Creating a mobile friendly doesn’t require a huge amount of extra work, you just have to keep these tips in mind from the very beginning.

Following these guidelines will help your presentation stand out from a mobile viewer’s perspective, giving them a better overall experience. And that in turn will better reflect back on you, as you’ll be perceived as a professional that has a high attention to details, cares about the audience and does not let things to chance. 

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