‘I dream my painting, and then I paint my dream.’
The Power of Minimalism makes a Presentation Infinite
What is Minimalism?
Minimalism is a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme sparseness and simplicity. It is a style in which a small number of very simple things are used to create a specific effect. On the opposite side of the spectrum, Maximalism, can be summarized as “more is more”, contrasting with the minimalist motto “less is more”. It is often associated with excess and the use of intricate and complex designs.
In a presentation, minimalism is best expressed by the ‘Rule of Three’ principle (http://www.allthingspresentations.com/rule-three/ ). Consider the stories of the Three Little Pigs, the Three Blind Mice, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, the Three Musketeers, the Three Wise Men. Why three? 3 is the minimum number of elements required to form or indicate the existence of a pattern, which in turn makes information, data or a story memorable and impactful.
Where do you begin?
Paraphrasing LUKE (https://www.suttonandgrove.com/thoughts-on-minimalism/ ) there are three principles that the presenter needs to consider and implement:
In order to start the journey towards a more minimal life I’ve put together 3 basic principles to begin:
- Thoroughly Analyze what you have available.
How much information, data, facts and opinions have you gathered? Are all the above really needed for the specific occasion and audience? What are the 3 facts that you firmly believe the participants need? What are the three opinions that will get participants thinking about the importance of your talk?
- Trim Down the Goals of your Message.
What does the audience expect from you? Which goals are directly and inexorably linked to the purpose of the gathering? Which goals can be differed to another medium, such as the published version of the talk? Could the talk be a victim of ‘Tell them everything and they will remember nothing’?
- Cut down on Content re Time available.
Is all content essential? How much content may need to be repeated for better impact? How much content should be omitted to facilitate perception and appreciation in the time available? How much content is genuinely imaginative to spark creativity?
Overall, ‘minimalist work seeks to get at the heart of what is actually important in a piece of work. A minimalist will cut away all the details until what is the clean essence of what is being said. It’s simple, but elegant’.
Characteristics of minimalist design (and benefits)
Alek Sabin from (https://gravitatecreative.com/benefits-of-minimalist-design/ ) identifies the following as the benefits of minimalist design. The characteristics that expose the essential identity of your message as clearly and cleanly for the audience.
- Avoid Clutter
Too much of something can be a bad thing. Perhaps each of the ideas on a slide is engaging and compelling on its own right. However, a combination of such ideas may not have a similar effect if they lack coherence and consistency. Too many things create noise at the expense of focus.
- Concentrate on Important Elements
Significant content should stand out on its own regardless of what the presenter is referring to or pointing at. ‘By making the meat and potatoes of your design more prominent, you have also made them stronger and more pronounced’.
- Minimalism Nurtures Creativity
Total freedom can be detrimental to creativity. The possibility to include everything on a slide diminishes impact and force. Omission and deletion as mental processes require thinking and deliberation that often leads to creation and innovation.
Three Principles and Three Examples
The following ideas are adapted from https://www.slidegenius.com/blog/three-principles-minimalist-powerpoint-design/ so that simplicity is not associated with bare and boring slides. If at first attempt they look empty and dull, the following should be considered:
- White Space
‘Eliminating unnecessary elements from your slides reduces the strain on a reader’s eyes. It also lets them process key points faster. The next time you want to fill your slide with blocks of text, ask yourself if you can cut it down to leave space for rest’.
The use of empty space is what defines content and focuses attention. Consider typefaces that use the same principle: The absence of clutter enhances meaning and significance. Simplicity increases motivation and comprehension.
- Content Placement
Just throwing content on a blank surface does not equal to effective use of minimalist principles. Strategic thinking and planning are required. The size of elements should be proportionate to their importance and make them easy to identify as participants move their sight from the projection to the speaker and back.
- Appropriate Colors
Everybody has a favourite colour. Your personal and cultural choices may not be appropriate for your content and your audience. Consider that certain colours carry a global meaning: Green signifies hope, Red signals danger, etc. In addition, using an abundance of colours may be appropriate for a work of art, however, it is uninviting and possibly distracting for a presentation slide.
The Disadvantages of Minimalist Design
According to Pete Peranzo (from https://www.imaginovation.net/blog/the-pros-and-cons-of-minimalist-web-design/) not all is bright and fair with minimalism. Certain aspects may be misunderstood.