Today we return to the 1930s to learn about a clever technique that made a company famous. Their method involved presenting advertisements in a series of 4-6 short, sequential messages. Sound like a slide show? Not quite. Let me explain.

The company was Burma-Shave. They made and sold brushless shaving cream. Back then you kept a sliver of soap in an old mug and used a shaving brush to whip it into foam. Sounds quaint today, but brushless shaving cream was new, so they used it as their marketing differentiator.

 

Message at a glance

Even back then, billboards were a popular advertising medium. But the driver of a car doesn’t have time to read a lengthy message. So they delivered their value message in short poems — delivered one line at a time in a series of roadside signs:

“Your shaving brush

Has had its day

So why not

Shave the modern way

With

Burma-Shave”

Travelers, especially the kids, enjoyed reading them, and they became popular throughout America.

 

Document or Billboard?

Presentation attendees too have a short attention span. So your lengthy slides shouldn’t be considered presentations; they are actually documents. If your content needs lengthy text, maybe it shouldn’t be delivered in a presentation. You might be better off sending your audience a document to review.

 

Slide Readability

Design your presentation like a series of billboards — each with just enough information to absorb at a quick glance. Nancy Duarte, author of slide:ology, calls this the “3-second rule.” And what makes billboard text readable? Size, for one thing. And also the shape of the letters.

Brady Bunch_

The Brady Bunch font is fun. But imagine trying to read it at 65 miles-per-hour. The quirky shapes and close spacing make it tough to read.

Edwardian Script

Likewise, script fonts might be a good choice for a classy brochure but not for a billboard or presentation slide.

Times New Roman

Here’s a popular serif font. Serif refers to the tiny “feet” at the top and bottom of some letters. It makes lengthy text more readable; (open almost any book, and you’ll find a serif font.) But the feet make it not quite right for billboards and slides.

Arial_

Fonts of the sans serif family (meaning without “feet”) are more legible for titles, billboards and slides.

Arial Grid

When choosing a sans serif font, check the x-height — the height of lower case letters compared to the overall font height. Lower case letters should be more than 50-percent as tall, as in the Arial font.

Calibri Grid

Calibri is another sans serif font that would be good for slides. Notice the x-height.

 

More Shaving Fun

As Burma-Shave roadside signs became more popular, the company began to run contests, with prizes awarded for sending in empty jars of Burma-Shave:

Free — free

a trip to Mars

for 900

empty jars

Burma-Shave

When a grocery store owner actually sent 900 jars to the company, they replied:

If a trip to Mars

you earn

remember, friend

there’s no return.

But they sent him on vacation to the town of Moers, Germany, often pronounced “Mars” by foreign visitors.

Note: For more quotes, see Wikipedia and The Verse by the Side of the Road: The Story of the Burma-Shave Signs and Jingles, by Frank Rowsom and Carl Rose.

 

More Font Fun

Powerpoint has many interesting fonts built-in. If you want to get really creative, check Google Web Fonts. This directory grows continually, and all fonts are free to download. Have fun designing your presentations!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Loading...

Posted by Agnes Jozwiak

Agnes is the Brand & Communication Director at ClickMeeting.

Ready to start with webinars?
Do it with

TRY IT FREE

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *