Signal to Noise Ratio

May 23, 2023

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What is Signal to Noise Ratio?

In the book Presentation Zen, author Garr Reynolds talks about Signal to Noise Ratio (SNR). Here at The Prezenter we believe that this is something all presenters need to be aware of. But what is it and how can it help you be more effective in front of an audience?

The following content is taken directly from Presentation Zen and explains everything perfectly:

The signal to-noise ratio (SNR) is a principal borrowed from more technical fields such as radio communications an electronic communicaton in general. The principle itself, however, applies to design and communication problems in virtualy any field. For our purposes, the SNR is the ratio of relevant to irrelevant elements and information in a slide or other display. The goal is to have the highest signal-to-noise ratio possible in your slides. People have a hard time coping with too much information. There is simply a limit to a person’s ability to process new information efficiently and effectively. Aiming for a higher SNR attempts to make things easier for people. Understanding can be hard enough without bombarding audience members with excessive and nonessential visuals that are supposed to be playing a supportive role.

Ensuring the highest possible signal-to-noise ratio means communicating (designing) clearly with as little degradation to the message as possible.

An example of SNR in presentation design

Below is a great example of how one of our presentation designers have taken an existing PowerPoint slide with a very low SNR ratio, and then redesigned it to make sure that the Signal comes through in a much clearer way. It also looks absolutely stunning I’m sure you’ll agree.



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