Wellness, Productivity, Balance for Graduate Students and Beyond

Slide Makeover: Featuring Dr. Echo Rivera

I got my PhD in Media Studies, so my relationship to slides and presentations has always been a fraught one. I used presentations extensively in both my classroom and for conference presentations, primarily because I often need to show GIFs, clips, or images and that’s much easier than bringing along DVDs or keeping browser tabs open (both things I have seen people do!) But, I always viewed my slides as a utilitarian necessity; these were something that I made so that I could show what I wanted to with as little fuss as possible, rather than part and parcel of my argument themselves.

Enter the work of Dr. Echo Rivera. I started to see her around on Twitter, with striking graphics and awesome videos where she does slide makeovers to help empower presenters to take the visual elements of their work seriously. Upon further exploration, I found that her blog is a treasure-trove of useful, actionable advice delivered with humor and kindness.

And to prove to you that even old media-studies slides makers can learn new tricks, I'll show you some example slides from before I started working with Dr. Rivera, and some afters!

French Film - 1930's.png

Here is an example of a standard slide for me pre-makeover.....pretty boring. This is just a standard Google Slides slide - there isn't even a template. Nothing about this slide communicates ANYTHING about me, my work, or what I want people to feel when they're listening to me speak.


French Film - 1930's (1).png

And here's a standard image/clip slide that I's just the clip on a white background. This does help minimize distractions but the way that it's related to the text is awkward, and it isn't clear what the relationship between the image and the text is meant to suggest. The caption is also in a weird, distracting place.


And here are some slides that I created after reviewing her awesome materials!

A few things that I did differently:

  • Looked up a color scheme for the slides so they would feel cohesive and unified. In this case, these are all colors that I found by searching for [client + style guide] but you can also generate your own interesting color palettes at
  • I used accent colors (sparingly) to draw attention to certain words. I also cut down on the words per slide dramatically, even though my slides weren't that wordy to begin with.
  • I searched for images to use in my slides - Dr. Rivera stresses on her blog the necessity of using images that you have the right to use - read more here - and I used the stock photo hub to find inclusive images for my slides.

They aren't perfect, but I felt much more confident and polished presenting these slides than I had in the past. And that, really, was the whole payoff - I was more engaged and engaging because I felt proud of what I was presenting, both in content and design.

If you're interested in working with Dr. Rivera, she offers a great starter pack of tools to get you started on your slide designs - sign up and get them here!  Plus follow her on social media, she's always doing great webinars and her blog is top notch!