Presentation Styles Review #1 : Minimalist

In the world of presentations, there is no definite answer on the style that reigns supreme.  Every situation calls for a different type of methods, according to the circumstance. Powerpoint design, speaking style, and the media used within each will differ according to the TPOA (Time, Place, Occasion, and Audience). In this three part blog series, we will take a look at the pro’s and con’s of each. First off : Minimalist.

The minimalist design by definition, is media that is stripped of overbearing colors, shapes, and clutter and designed to make content the focal point of the presentation. It is gaining popularity amongst presenters at a rapid rate, and there is a reason. Having little content on your powerpoint’s will allow the audience to pay more attention to what is being said.  Let’s take a look at an example and let’s try to determine a few rules on how to make your presentation minimalist.

Here is a slide that Ethos did for online dating giant

Here is the Before –  we can see that the slide is offering statistics of the growing number of people that meet in online dating.  If presented in a lecture format, the audience may be reading this while the presenter is talking, and the audience will either read or listen, they can’t do both.


After :  The same information is presented, but with the minimalist design the comprehension time is down to a second, and the audience’s attention is again directed back at the presenter.  The information presented is the same as the first slide, but the design allows the audience to understand quickly, easily, and get back to the presenter.

The principles of Minimalist Powerpointing

Here we are going to take a look at three minimalist methods that are gaining traction.  Each one utilizes a different methodology and, as stated before, has it’s own time and place.

The Five Second Rule

Many presenters are starting to apply the five second rule to their slides when giving minimalist presentations.  Put a slide up, and take it down after five seconds.  If the information that is presented was not comprehended after five seconds, then it is rendered an ineffective slide.  Why?  Because it is not aiding in the presentation, instead – it is argued that it is inhibiting learning by having the audience focus on a cluttered slide instead of listening to the presenter.

Takahashi Method

Named for it’s inventor,  Masayoshi Takahashi, it is a new take in powerpoint design that is upcoming in the world of presentations.  Each slide presented is only composed of one or two words, that are usually large across the screen.  The audience can see, and comprehend the content within a second and get back to listening to the presentation.  Within a few seconds, the slide is down and the presenter has gained full attention of the audience while also giving them visual information.  Oftentimes, many slides (In some instances – 100+) will be used in short succession.

Lessig Method

What do you get when you combine the more common media based presentation style with a more minimalist takahashi method? Answer? The Lessig Method.  Name for the Stanford Law Professor, it is the embodiment of the middle ground between long standing slides, and the takahashi method.  Slides are viewable for around 15 seconds at a time, and use a text and images.  The idea is that the audience will remain engaged when given new media, but will lose interest if the media is up for a long time, or lose comprehension when the slide is cluttered with text and pictures.

When should you use the minimalist design?  This is up to you.  As we stated, the decision to use minimalist method should be the result only after figuring out what’s best for your Time, Place, Occasion, and Audience.