Even the best content needs to be presented well. Here are some tips for getting content onto your slides in a way that doesn't detract from the material itself.
Some courses require dispensing a lot of information. But just as with a PowerPoint presentation, you don't want to have huge blocks of text on the screen. And you never, ever want to read the entire contents of a slide, verbatim, to your learners. A better technique is to have bullet points, or shorter sentences, that complement, not duplicate, the narration. See the examples below. In the version on the left, there is far too much text on the slide, and it's fully narrated, producing cognitive overload on the learner. On the right, a very easy fix: pare down the important points to short sentences that highlight the full narration. The learner will see and remember those key points far easier than those large paragraphs in the left version. Click each example; slide will open in a separate window.
Not planning to narrate? That's OK, but consider an alternate way to present the information in smaller chunks. Here's an example of a way to "hide" larger blocks of text, and let the learner explore them as they wish. The main visual remains clean, and allows your learners to take their time reviewing the information at their own pace.
Animation may sound frivolous, but it can be an important tool in your elearning arsenal. It can help pace a learner through a text-heavy slide (as in the "Minimize Text" examples above), or it can be used to demonstrate the steps in a business process, as shown in the example below. While it may look complicated, it's really quite easy to do in a rapid authoring tool such as Storyline or Captivate. When you click through to this example, press the Play button to make it begin.
Info Told vs. Question Asked
While there's nothing wrong with providing your learners with information, sometimes it's helpful to make it a bit more engaging. Consider asking a question. Make the learner think; challenge what they think they already know. Used selectively, this can make your elearning a little more interesting than a typical click-through-read. Click on each example below to see the difference between telling information, and asking the learner a question. While the same factual information is presented on each slide, the way the learner will interact--and learn from--each is slightly different.
Narrated or Not?
Some people, especially when starting out creating elearning, are intimidated by the idea of narration. Or, perhaps it's a time issue. Either way, you can create a useful instructional video without adding audio. Take a look at the example here, which walks you through a technical process in SAP. Even with no narration, the steps are clear and presented in a way that the learner can go at their own pace. Click to open the example.
Besides the quality of the content, graphics play a big role in making your elearning engaging. A great graphic can make the learner stop and think, rather than just click through. Think quality over quantity; more isn't better. Lots of random clipart images won't inspire your learner, but the right image can. Check out the two sets of examples below. In each case, which slide would make you stop and read more?
Need more inspiration?
Check out this article to dig a bit deeper into slide makeovers.