17 PowerPoint Presentation Tips to Make More Creative Slideshows [+ Templates]
Published: August 16, 2023
Creating a great PowerPoint presentation is a skill that any professional can benefit from. The problem? It’s really easy to get it wrong. From poor color choices to confusing slides, a bad PowerPoint slideshow can distract from the fantastic content you’re sharing with stakeholders on your team.
That’s why it’s so important to learn how to create a PowerPoint presentation from the ground up, starting with your slides. Even if you’re familiar with PowerPoint, a refresher will help you make a more attractive, professional slideshow. Let’s get started.
How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation
- Presentation Tips
I like to think of Microsoft PowerPoint as a test of basic professional skills. To create a passing presentation, I need to demonstrate design skills, technical literacy, and a sense of personal style.
If the presentation has a problem (like an unintended font, a broken link, or unreadable text), then I’ve probably failed the test. Even if my spoken presentation is well rehearsed, a bad visual experience can ruin it for the audience.
Expertise means nothing without a good PowerPoint presentation to back it up. For starters, grab your collection of free PowerPoint templates below.
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No matter your topic, successful PowerPoints depend on three main factors: your command of PowerPoint's design tools, your attention to presentation processes, and your devotion to consistent style. Here are some simple tips to help you start mastering each of those factors, and don't forget to check out the additional resources at the bottom of this post.
A presentation is made up of multiple slides, let's delve deeper into PowerPoint's capabilities.
1. open powerpoint and click ‘new.’.
If a page with templates doesn‘t automatically open, go to the top left pane of your screen and click New. If you’ve already created a presentation, select Open then double-click the icon to open the existing file.
That said, you can still use fun and eccentric fonts — in moderation. Offsetting a fun font or large letters with something more professional can create an engaging presentation.
Above all, be sure you're consistent so your presentation looks the same throughout each slide. That way, your audience doesn't become distracted by too many disparate fonts. Check out this example from HubSpot’s company profile templates:
Interested in this presentation template? Download it for free here.
5. Make sure all of your objects are properly aligned.
Having properly aligned objects on your slide is the key to making it look polished and professional. You can manually try to line up your images ... but we all know how that typically works out. You're trying to make sure all of your objects hang out in the middle of your slide, but when you drag them there, it still doesn't look quite right. Get rid of your guessing game and let PowerPoint work its magic with this trick.
Here’s how to align multiple objects:
- Select all objects by holding down Shift and clicking on all of them.
- Select Arrange in the top options bar, then choose Align or Distribute .
- Choose the type of alignment you'd like.
Here’s how to align objects to the slide:
- Select Align to Slide .
- Select Arrange in the top options bar again, then choose Align or Distribute .
6. Use "Format Object" to better control your objects' designs.
Format menus allow you to do fine adjustments that otherwise seem impossible. To do this, right-click on an object and select the Format Object option. Here, you can fine-tune shadows, adjust shape measurements, create reflections, and much more. The menu that will pop up looks like this:
Although the main options can be found on PowerPoint’s format toolbars, look for complete control in the format window menu. Other examples of options available include:
- Adjusting text inside a shape.
- Creating a natural perspective shadow behind an object.
- Recoloring photos manually and with automatic options.
7. Take advantage of PowerPoint's shapes.
Many users don’t realize how flexible PowerPoint’s shape tools have become. In combination with the expanded format options released by Microsoft, the potential for good design with shapes is readily available. PowerPoint provides the user with a bunch of great shape options beyond the traditional rectangle, oval, and rounded rectangle patterns.
Today’s shapes include a highly functional Smart Shapes function, which enables you to create diagrams and flow charts in no time. These tools are especially valuable when you consider that PowerPoint is a visual medium. Paragraphing and bullet lists are boring — you can use shapes to help express your message more clearly.
8. Create custom shapes.
When you create a shape, right click and press Edit Points . By editing points, you can create custom shapes that fit your specific need. For instance, you can reshape arrows to fit the dimensions you like.
Another option is to combine two shapes together. To do so, select the two shapes you’d like to work with, then click Shape Format in the top ribbon. Tap Merge Shapes .
You’ll see a variety of options.
- Combine creates a custom shape that has overlapping portions of the two previous shapes cut out.
- Union makes one completely merged shape.
- Intersect builds a shape of only the overlapping sections of the two previous shapes.
- Subtract cuts out the overlapping portion of one shape from the other.
- Fragment will split your shape into different parts depending on where they overlap.
By using these tools rather than trying to edit points precisely, you can create accurately measured custom shapes.
9. Crop images into custom shapes.
Besides creating custom shapes in your presentation, you can also use PowerPoint to crop existing images into new shapes. Here's how you do that:
- Click on the image and select Picture Format in the options bar.
- Choose Crop , then Crop to Shape , and then choose your desired shape. Ta-da! Custom-shaped photos.
10. Present websites within PowerPoint.
Tradition says that if you want to show a website in a PowerPoint, you should just create a link to the page and prompt a browser to open. For PC users, there’s a better option.
Third party software that integrates fully into PowerPoint’s developer tab can be used to embed a website directly into your PowerPoint using a normal HTML iframe. One of the best tools is LiveWeb , a third-party software that you can install on your PowerPoint program.
By using LiveWeb, you don’t have to interrupt your PowerPoint, and your presentation will remain fluid and natural. Whether you embed a whole webpage or just a YouTube video, this can be a high-quality third party improvement. To install the add-on, simple head to the LiveWeb website and follow the instructions.
Unfortunately, Mac users don’t have a similar option. A good second choice is to take screenshots of the website, link in through a browser, or embed media (such as a YouTube video) by downloading it directly to your computer.
11. Try Using GIFs.
GIFs are looped animated images used to communicate a mood, idea, information, and much more. Users add GIFs to PowerPoints to be funny or quickly demo a process. It's easy to add GIFs to your slides. To do so, simply follow these steps:
- Download and save the GIF you want.
- Go to the slide you want the GIF on.
- Go to the Home tab, and click either Insert or Picture .
- From the Picture drop-down menu, choose Picture from File .
- Navigate to where you saved your GIF and select it. Then, choose Insert .
- It will play automatically the moment you insert it.
12. keep it simple..
PowerPoint is an excellent tool to support your presentation with visual information, graphics, and supplemental points. This means that your PowerPoint should not be your entire presentation. Your slides — no matter how creative and beautiful — shouldn't be the star of the show. Keep your text and images clear and concise, using them only to supplement your message and authority.
If your slides have dense and cluttered information, it will both distract your audience and make it much more likely that you will lose their attention. Nothing in your slides should be superfluous! Keep your presentation persuasive by keeping it clean. There are a few ways to do this:
- Limit bullet points and text.
- Avoid paragraphs and long quotes.
- Maintain "white space" or "negative space".
- Keep percentages, graphs, and data super basic.
13. Embed your font files.
One constant problem presenters have with PowerPoint is that fonts seem to change when presenters move from one computer to another. In reality, the fonts are not changing — the presentation computer just doesn’t have the same font files installed . If you’re using a PC and presenting on a PC, then there is a smooth workaround for this issue.
Here’s the trick: When you save your PowerPoint file (only on a PC), you should click File , then Options, then open up the Save tab. Then, select the Embed fonts in the file check box under Preserve fidelity when sharing this presentation . Now, your presentation will keep the font file and your fonts will not change when you move computers.
The macOS PowerPoint version has a similar function. To embed your fonts on a Mac, do the following:
- Open up your presentation.
- On the top bar, click PowerPoint , then click Preferences .
- Under Output and Sharing , click Save .
- Under Font Embedding , click Embed fonts in the file.
14. Save your slides as a PDF file for backup purposes.
If you’re still scared of your presentation showing up differently when it’s time to present, you should create a PDF version just in case. This is a good option if you’ll be presenting on a different computer. If you also run into an issue where the presenting computer doesn’t have PowerPoint installed, you can also use the system viewer to open up the PDF. No laptop will ever give you trouble with this file type.
The only caveat is that your GIFs, animations, and transitions won’t transfer over. But since the PDF will only work as a backup, not as your primary copy, this should be okay.
To save your presentation as a PDF file, take the following steps:
- Go to File , then click Save as …
- In the pop-up window, click File Format.
- A drop-down menu will appear. Select PDF .
- Click Export .
You can also go to File , then Export , then select PDF from the file format menu.
15. Embed multimedia.
PowerPoint allows you to either link to video/audio files externally or to embed the media directly in your presentation. You should embed these files if you can, but if you use a Mac, you cannot actually embed the video (see note below). For PCs, two great reasons for embedding are:
- Embedding allows you to play media directly in your presentation. It will look much more professional than switching between windows.
- Embedding also means that the file stays within the PowerPoint presentation, so it should play normally without extra work (except on a Mac).
Note: macOS users of PowerPoint should be extra careful about using multimedia files.
If you use PowerPoint for Mac, then you will always need to bring the video and/or audio file with you in the same folder as the PowerPoint presentation. It’s best to only insert video or audio files once the presentation and the containing folder have been saved on a portable drive in their permanent folder. Also, if the presentation will be played on a Windows computer, then Mac users need to make sure their multimedia files are in WMV format. This tip gets a bit complicated, so if you want to use PowerPoint effectively, consider using the same operating system for designing and presenting, no matter what.
16. Bring your own hardware.
Between operating systems, PowerPoint is still a bit jumpy. Even between differing PPT versions, things can change. One way to fix these problems is to make sure that you have the right hardware — so just bring along your own laptop when you're presenting.
If you’re super concerned about the different systems you might have to use, then upload your PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides as a backup option. Google Slides is a cloud-based presentation software that will show up the same way on all operating systems. The only thing you need is an internet connection and a browser.
To import your PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides, take the following steps:
- Navigate to slides.google.com . Make sure you’re signed in to a Google account, preferably your own.
- Under Start a new presentation , click the empty box with a plus sign. This will open up a blank presentation.
- Go to File , then Import slides .
- A dialog box will come up. Tap Upload , then click Select a file from your device .
- Select your presentation and click Open .
- Select the slides you’d like to import. If you want to import all of them, click All in the upper right-hand corner of the dialog box.
- Click Import slides.
When I tested this out, Google Slides imported everything perfectly, including a shape whose points I had manipulated. This is a good backup option to have if you’ll be presenting across different operating systems.
17. Use Presenter View.
In most presentation situations, there will be both a presenter’s screen and the main projected display for your presentation. PowerPoint has a great tool called Presenter View, which can be found in the Slide Show tab of PowerPoint. Included in the Presenter View is an area for notes, a timer/clock, and a presentation display.
For many presenters, this tool can help unify their spoken presentation and their visual aid. You never want to make the PowerPoint seem like a stack of notes that you’re reading off of. Use the Presenter View option to help create a more natural presentation.
Pro Tip: At the start of the presentation, you should also hit CTRL + H to make the cursor disappear. Hitting the "A" key will bring it back if you need it!
Your Next Great PowerPoint Presentation Starts Here
With style, design, and presentation processes under your belt, you can do a lot more with PowerPoint than just presentations for your clients. PowerPoint and similar slide applications are flexible tools that should not be forgotten. With a great template, you can be on your way to creating presentations that wow your audience.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.
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Design Tips for PowerPoint
Your first aim is to communicate and well-designed slides will help get your message across.
Make it clear
- Visuals should be concise, simple and relevant.
- Arrange your visuals in a logical sequence in line with your presentation structure.
- Each visual should convey a specific idea, point, or topic area. Use one message per slide.
- Limit the amount of text on each slide. Don’t reproduce your entire presentation script, just main points and key words. Edit out words you don't need until each statement is as concise as possible.
- Check spelling and grammar.
- Limit the number of slides to 5 or 6 per 10 minutes.
Make it big
- Visuals should be readable from the back of the room.
- Use a large font (at least 24 points).
- Avoid overly elaborate typefaces. Choose a simple font, like Helvetica, Arial or Times.
- Don’t use all capitals. Blocks of text are hard to read.
- Make sure captions on pictures or graphs can be clearly seen from the back of the room.
Keep it simple
- Your slides should be simple and clear. Eliminate unnecessary information and clutter.
- Make use of white space and don’t cram too much on each slide. For each addition, ask yourself ‘is this necessary; what does it add to the message?’
- Avoid busy backgrounds that make text hard to read.
Don't go overboard with technology
- Aim to communicate, not to win an Oscar for special effects.
- Use animations sparingly. Effects like flying or flashing text can distract your audience. What value do they really add to your talk or your topic?
- Only include elements like sound and video if they are the best way to convey particular information.
- The sound effects that accompany PowerPoint animations are best avoided altogether.
- Choose a general 'look' for your presentation and stick to it. Maintain a unity of key design elements from slide to slide.
- Don't get carried away with fonts, colours, styles etc. Use the same themes (colours, backgrounds, fonts etc.) throughout your slideshow.
- Visual consistency can link your slides and help your presentation to flow.
- The impact of visuals is greatly increased by colour IF it is used well.
- Ensure there is a clear contrast between text and background colour.
- Use a highlight colour to emphasis key words.
- Don’t use too many colours on one slide.
- Use colours that harmonise rather than clash. Bright shades can look harsh when projected.
- If you’re not sure how to put colours together, make use of the colour schemes available in PowerPoint.
Move beyond bullet points
- Take advantage of the medium and look for ways to convert data to visual information. Would a picture, graph or chart convey information more effectively than text?
Use graphics well
- Choose graphic material to support your presentation. Don’t include graphics purely for decoration.
- Use 1-2 images per slide.
- Pictures should be clear and in focus.
- Tables or graphs should be simple and readable from the back of the room.
- Remember that what may look clear and focussed on your computer screen will probably be paler and less focussed when projected onto a large screen.
- Rehearse your presentation
- Speaking to an audience
- Tutorials and seminar presentations
- Planning and structure
- Preparing your oral presentation
- Tutorial discussion and visuals
- Design tips
- Common mistakes
- ^ More support
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UNSW's Education Festival 2023 Published: 6 Nov 2023
How to Make a Boring Presentation Interesting
Whether presenting to colleagues at work or giving the keynote at a major conference, Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Slides and other slide presentations have become an absolutely essential way to share information.
They’re easy to use, offer a great way to combine images, video, and text, and require almost no training.
So, why are so many presentations so BORING?
All the elements are there for creating effective, eye-catching, and engaging presentations, but so often we’re forced to sit through slide after slide of overcrowded, hard-to-read text and fuzzy (or non-existent) images.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
You don’t need to be an expert at public speaking or worry about giving a Ted Talk level presentation.
You can make your presentations dazzle with just a few easy tips.
How to Make a Presentation Interesting
In order to be great, you need to combine story telling, authenticity, and visual supports.
Basically, it’s all about what you say, how you say it, and giving your audience cool slides to look at while you say it.
Tell a story
Often times when we think about how to make a presentation interesting, we focus on the visuals. We add animations and transitions, hoping that will keep our audience engaged.
Cool slide designs can help, there’s no doubt about that, but if most of your attention and time is spent on that portion of the presentation you are missing out on a key element that is crucial for making presentations interesting – the story.
The best presentations draw in their viewers with a relatable narrative, but the narrative also helps the presentation to gain memorability as well.
You should be spending a large portion of your preparation time on crafting your content – the actual information you will be sharing and how you will be sharing it. It deosn’t matter how cool your slide designs are if they aren’t supporting compelling content.
You don’t have to weave an epic tale for your presentation, but if you are looking to make your presentation interesting you need to incorporate some story telling aspects, like personal connection and impact. As you sit down to write, consider these questions:
- What am I sharing?
- Why is it important?
- What can my audience do with the information once they have it?
These questions help you get to the most important part of any communication – the purpose.
Most presentations try to accomplish one or two of these purposes:
- To persuade
- To entertain
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Whether you want your presentation to inspire or to inform and persuade, you can build your story to achieve the goal!
You’ll need an outline so that your purpose is kept at the centre of your presentation and so that you follow a familiar structure. You need to make sure that you have a clear beginning, middle, and end.
Presentations that are interesting from beginning to end take the audience on a journey. If you just recite facts and highlight data your audience won’t be engaged enough to do anything with the information, but if you go on too many tangents with personal anecdotes you will lose them to confusion about what they are meant to be learning.
To create an interesting presentation, before getting to the cool slides, be sure you structure your content in a way that makes it easy to tell the story and provide your audience with a journey that is relevant and memorable.
Be authentic and engaging
A key point that often gets forgotten when preparing presentations? YOU are the presentation.
If you are putting on a show, creating a persona that you believe your audience would be more interested in or confident about, the audience will pick up on it almost immediately. The whole experience will be awkward for everyone.
Instead, lean in to the parts of your personality that best serve the presentation’s purpose. Tell personal stories, speak in the same manner you normally do, and be open.
Your energy is contagious. If you want to make your presentation more interesting, you’ve got to bring the right energy.
High energy presenters get more engagement from their audiences, while coming in with low energy is a surefire way to destroy any hope of engagement, regardless of how good a story you have crafted with your presentation’s content.
Memorize your content rather than relying on reading your slides, and be sure to use different speeds and volumes throughout the presentation in order to make it more interesting, draw attention to specific points, and present authentically.
Prepare cool presentation slides
A recent study found that poorly constructed PowerPoint decks can lead to “distraction, boredom, and impeded learning,” while a well-crafted one enhances audience engagement and information retention .
Plus, let’s not forget that PowerPoint is a visual medium . People didn’t come to your presentation to read text off a slide. They came to listen to you present important information. And, the best way to present information is with visuals.
In fact, our research on the Value of Visuals shows that people actually absorb information faster and remember it better and for longer when it’s presented visually vs. text.
And a visual presentation doesn’t just help your audience, it will help you too!
So, not only will your audience enjoy your presentation and get more out of it, you’ll feel like a better presenter!
It’s a win-win!
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How to Make Your Slides Look Cool
While your content is crucial to the strength of your presentation, your slide deck has the power to add to or take away from the overall effectiveness. Learning how to make a presentation more interesting requires skillful collaboration between the strength of your content and knowing how to make your slides look cool.
Less is more
Learning how to make a presentation more interesting has a lot to do with learning what not to include on your slides. Less is more when it comes to slide content.
Your slides should not be stuffed with content, especially text heavy content. Incorporating speaking points rather than fully developed ideas helps your audience follow your message without getting distracted by trying to read the slide.
It doesn’t matter how cool your slide design is if you crowd in too much content.
Use cool slide designs
You don’t have to start from scratch with every presentation! Chances are, you are not a graphic designer so why not use the templates that have been created by professionals?
Using these presentation templates can help you make cool Powerpoint slides, cool Google slides, or slides for other platforms as well without spending too much time trying to create a professional look.
You can easily find templates online for Google Slides and for Powerpoint. Each of these platforms offer themes within their software as well.
These templates and themes have all been created by professional designers, so while you will need to make minor adjustments you should refrain from making significant changes to the cool slide designs you are using.
Using consistent branding is an easy way to build familiarity and trust with your audience. If you have an established brand in place be sure to use it when building your slides.
The colors and fonts used in your design should always adhere to your brand standards without deviation.
If you don’t have a brand guide to work from, select a specific color palette, using color theory to ensure the message of your presentation is not counteracted by your color choices.
Stick with just a few colors, and go the same route with fonts. Only choose a few to use, and try to avoid overly scripty options as they are difficult to read on screen.
Use quality images
Adding images to your cool slides that are blurry, pixelated, or otherwise low in quality is an easy way to let your audience “check out” of your presentation.
If you don’t have access to high quality branded photos, use sites like Unsplash and Shutterstock to access high quality images for your presentations.
Adding screenshots can make your presentation more interesting than stock photos. Screenshots add a level of personalization that can’t be achieved with the use of generic photos.
You can capture fantastic screenshots and even add highlights and notations with Snagit. Download your free trial here .
A great way to reduce the amount of text content on your slides is with the use of infographics.
Infographics are a great tool for making presentations interesting because they can successfully convey a lot of data in a visually interesting way.
You don’t have to lock yourself in to the idea of charts as the primary visual for your infographics anymore.
You can display many an idea through a good infographic, like steps in a process or historical values, and they are an excellent addition to your cool presentation slides.
Add cool transitions to your slides
Adding transitions to your slides is a great way to make a presentation interesting. There is a fine balance to strike though between using enough and using too many.
Limiting transitions to one per slide is a good place to start. These additions make your presentation more interactive and appealing.
Use GIFs & memes
If you want to make a presentation more interesting, a GIF or two added to highlight some key points is a great way to go.
GIFs are a great middle ground option between static images and videos. They can be used very effectively to drive home a specific point or to highlight a specific piece of data.
GIFs are a great way to make your presentation more interesting and more memorable. Visuals always help with memorability and GIFs usually include a touch of humor and personality – both qualities that help information stick.
While you are creating your cool slide designs, you may find the perfect place for a meme. These can be an effective tool, especially if the subject matter you are covering is light hearted, but use them with caution.
They have the potential to go too far with the humor and that can detract from the focus of your presentation.
We live in a video world. A lot of the workforce is now comprised of Millennial and Gen Z workers.
Something important to note about these two generations is that they have spent a lot of time consuming video content – it is a very comfortable medium for them and can be a really effective tool for keeping them engaged.
Embedding videos directly into your slides can play a role in creating an interesting presentation.
However, using too many videos (more than 3 in a standard presentation) can take away the impact your own content has, and using videos that are too long (longer than 2 minutes) can detract from your authority as the speaker – so choose wisely.
Create a Video to Share Your Cool Slides After Your Presentation
You’ve now spent a lot of time and energy creating your presentation. You’ve done all you can to make it interesting and perfectly appealing for your audience. It would be a shame to only use it once!
You can make your presentation a reusable asset simply by turning it into a video. You have already taken the steps to make it visually appealing so it is naturally suitable to video format.
You don’t need to add any new content, just a simple voiceover . You can use Snagit to screen record the presentation slides and Camtasia to add a voice over recording of you presenting the content!
Doing this means that you can send your presentation to anyone who couldn’t attend in real time. You can also send it as followup material to those who did attend so that they can continue to access it as they need to.
FAQs about Successful Presentations with Cool Slides
To make a powerpoint presentation interesting you can consider the following:Tell a story Be authentic and engaging Create cool presentation slides
Google Slides and Microsoft Powerpoint both have built in capacity to add transitions on your cool slide designs.
You can find themes to make your presentation more interesting in the design settings on both Microsoft Powerpoint and Google Slides.
Danielle Ezell is a Marketing Content Strategist at TechSmith, where she writes about effective workplace communication, offering tips and strategies for using images and videos to collaborate more effectively in hybrid and remote environments.
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Resource Tips for Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations
Slideshows are quick to produce, easy to update and an effective way to inject visual interest into almost any presentation.
However, slideshows can also spell disaster even for experienced presenters. The key to success is to make certain your slideshow is a visual aid and not a visual distraction.
Tips for Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Use the slide master feature to create a consistent and simple design template. It is fine to vary the content presentation (bulleted list, two-column text, text and image, etc.), but be consistent with other elements such as font, colors and background.
- Simplify and limit the number of words on each screen. Use key phrases and include only essential information.
- Limit punctuation and avoid putting words in all-capital letters. Empty space on the slide will enhance readability.
- Use contrasting colors for text and background. Light text on a dark background is best. Patterned backgrounds can reduce readability.
- Avoid the use of flashy transitions such as text fly-ins. These features may seem impressive at first but are distracting and get old quickly.
- Overuse of special effects such as animation and sounds may make your presentation “cutesy” and could negatively affect your credibility.
- Use good-quality images that reinforce and complement your message. Ensure that your image maintains its impact and resolution when projected on a larger screen.
- If you use builds (lines of text appearing each time you click the mouse), have content appear on the screen in a consistent, simple manner; from the top or left is best. Use the feature only when necessary to make your point, because builds can slow your presentation.
- Limit the number of slides. Presenters who constantly “flip” to the next slide are likely to lose their audience. A good rule of thumb is one slide per minute.
- Learn to navigate your presentation in a nonlinear fashion. PowerPoint allows the presenter to jump ahead or back without having to page through all the interim slides.
- Know how to and practice moving forward and backward within your presentation. Audiences often ask to see a previous screen again.
- If possible, view your slides on the screen you’ll be using for your presentation. Make sure the slides are readable from the back row seats. Text and graphic images should be large enough to read but not so large as to appear “loud.”
- Have a Plan B in the event of technical difficulties. Remember that transparencies and handouts will not show animation or other special effects.
- Practice with someone who has never seen your presentation. Ask them for honest feedback about colors, content and any effects or graphic images you’ve included.
- Do not read from your slides. The content of your slides is for the audience, not for the presenter.
- Do not speak to your slides. Many presenters face their presentation onscreen rather than their audience.
- Do not apologize for anything in your presentation. If you believe something will be hard to read or understand, don’t use it.
The Seven Deadly Sins of PowerPoint Presentations
By Joseph Sommerville
It’s not surprising PowerPoint© slideshows have become the norm for visuals in most business presentations. Slideshows are quick to produce, easy to update and effective to inject visual interest into the presentation. However, slideshows can also spell disaster even for experienced presenters. The key to success is to make certain your slide show is a visual aid and not a visual distraction. For the best results, avoid these common “seven deadly sins” of PowerPoint© presentations.
- Slide Transitions And Sound Effects: Transitions and sound effects can become the focus of attention, which in turn distracts the audience. Worse yet, when a presentation containing several effects and transitions runs on a computer much slower than the one on which it was created, the result is a sluggish, almost comical when viewed. Such gimmicks rarely enhance the message you’re trying to communicate. Unless you are presenting at a science fiction convention, leave out the laser-guided text! Leave the fade-ins, fade-outs, wipes, blinds, dissolves, checkerboards, cuts, covers and splits to Hollywood filmmakers. Even “builds” (lines of text appearing each time you click the mouse) can be distracting. Focus on your message, not the technology..
- Standard Clipart: Death to screen beans! PowerPoint© is now so widely used the clipart included with it has become a “visual cliché.” It shows a lack of creativity and a tired adherence to a standard form. First, make certain that you need graphical images to enhance your message. If you do, use your own scanned photographs or better-quality graphics from companies such as PhotoDisc (www.photodisc.com) or Hemera’s Photo Objects (www.hemera.com). Screen captures can add realism when presenting information about a Website or computer program. Two popular screen capture programs are Snagit (www.techsmith.com) for Windows and Snapz Pro (www.ambrosiasw.com) for Macintosh. Both are available as shareware.
- Presentation Templates: Another visual cliché. Templates force you to fit your original ideas into someone else’s pre-packaged mold. The templates often contain distracting backgrounds and poor color combinations. Select a good book on Web graphics and apply the same principles to your slides. Create your own distinctive look or use your company logo in a corner of the screen.
- Text-Heavy Slides: Projected slides are a good medium for depicting an idea graphically or providing an overview. Slides are a poor medium for detail and reading. Avoid paragraphs, quotations and even complete sentences. Limit your slides to five lines of text and use words and phrases to make your points. The audience will be able to digest and retain key points more easily. Don’t use your slides as speaker’s notes or to simply project an outline of your presentation.
- The “Me” Paradigm: Presenters often scan a table or graphical image directly from their existing print corporate material and include it in their slide show presentations. The results are almost always sub-optimal. Print visuals are usually meant to be seen from 8-12 inches rather than viewed from several feet. Typically, these images are too small, too detailed and too textual for an effective visual presentation. The same is true for font size; 12 point font is adequate when the text is in front of you. In a slideshow, aim for a minimum of 40 point font. Remember the audience and move the circle from “me” to “we.” Make certain all elements of any particular slide are large enough to be seen easily. Size really does matter.
- Reading: A verbal presentation should focus on interactive speaking and listening, not reading by the speaker or the audience. The demands of spoken and written language differ significantly. Spoken language is shorter, less formal and more direct. Reading text ruins a presentation. A related point has to do with handouts for the audience. One of your goals as a presenter is to capture and hold the audience’s attention. If you distribute materials before your presentation, your audience will be reading the handouts rather than listening to you. Often, parts of an effective presentation depend on creating suspense to engage the audience. If the audience can read everything you’re going to say, that element is lost.
- Faith in Technology: You never know when an equipment malfunction or incompatible interfaces will force you to give your presentation on another computer. Be prepared by having a back-up of your presentation on a CD-ROM. Better yet is a compact-flash memory card with an adapter for the PCMCIA slot in your notebook. With it, you can still make last-minute changes. It’s also a good idea to prepare a few color transparencies of your key slides. In the worst-case scenario, none of the technology works and you have no visuals to present. You should still be able to give an excellent presentation if you focus on the message. Always familiarize yourself with the presentation, practice it and be ready to engage the audience regardless of the technology that is available. It’s almost a lost art.
Joseph Sommerville has earned the title “The Presentation Expert” for helping professionals design, develop and deliver more effective presentations. He is the principal of Peak Communication Performance, a Houston-based firm working worldwide to help professionals develop skills in strategic communication.
Tips for Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Select a single sans-serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica. Avoid serif fonts such as Times New Roman or Palatino because these fonts are sometimes more difficult to read.
- Use no font size smaller than 24 point.
- Use the same font for all your headlines.
- Select a font for body copy and another for headlines.
- Use bold and different sizes of those fonts for captions and subheadings.
- Add a fourth font for page numbers or as a secondary body font for sidebars.
- Don’t use more than four fonts in any one publication.
- Clearly label each screen. Use a larger font (35-45 points) or different color for the title.
- Use larger fonts to indicate importance.
- Use different colors, sizes and styles (e.g., bold) for impact.
- Avoid italicized fonts as these are difficult to read quickly.
- Avoid long sentences.
- Avoid abbreviations and acronyms.
- Limit punctuation marks.
- No more than 6-8 words per line
- For bullet points, use the 6 x 6 Rule. One thought per line with no more than 6 words per line and no more than 6 lines per slide
- Use dark text on light background or light text on dark background. However, dark backgrounds sometimes make it difficult for some people to read the text.
- Do not use all caps except for titles.
- Put repeating elements (like page numbers) in the same location on each page of a multi-page document.
- To test the font, stand six feet from the monitor and see if you can read the slide.
Design and Graphical Images
- Use design templates.
- Standardize position, colors, and styles.
- Include only necessary information.
- Limit the information to essentials.
- Content should be self-evident
- Use colors that contrast and compliment.
- Too may slides can lose your audience.
- Keep the background consistent and subtle.
- Limit the number of transitions used. It is often better to use only one so the audience knows what to expect.
- Use a single style of dingbat for bullets throughout the page.
- Use the same graphical rule at the top of all pages in a multi-page document.
- Use one or two large images rather than several small images.
- Prioritize images instead of a barrage of images for competing attention.
- Make images all the same size.
- Use the same border.
- Arrange images vertically or horizontally.
- Use only enough text when using charts or graphical images to explain the chart or graph and clearly label the image.
- Keep the design clean and uncluttered. Leave empty space around the text and graphical images.
- Use quality clipart and use it sparingly. A graphical image should relate to and enhance the topic of the slide.
- Try to use the same style graphical image throughout the presentation (e.g., cartoon, photographs)
- Limit the number of graphical images on each slide.
- Repetition of an image reinforces the message. Tie the number of copies of an image to the numbers in your text.
- Resize, recolor, reverse to turn one image into many. Use duplicates of varying sizes, colors, and orientations to multiply the usefulness of a single clip art image.
- Make a single image stand out with dramatic contrast. Use color to make a dramatic change to a single copy of your clip art.
- Check all images on a projection screen before the actual presentation.
- Avoid flashy images and noisy animation effects unless it relates directly to the slide.
- Limit the number of colors on a single screen.
- Bright colors make small objects and thin lines stand out. However, some vibrant colors are difficult to read when projected.
- Use no more than four colors on one chart.
- Check all colors on a projection screen before the actual presentation. Colors may project differently than what appears on the monitor.
- Plan carefully.
- Do your research.
- Know your audience.
- Time your presentation.
- Speak comfortably and clearly.
- Check the spelling and grammar.
- Do not read the presentation. Practice the presentation so you can speak from bullet points. The text should be a cue for the presenter rather than a message for the viewer.
- Give a brief overview at the start. Then present the information. Finally review important points.
- It is often more effective to have bulleted points appear one at a time so the audience listens to the presenter rather than reading the screen.
- Use a wireless mouse or pick up the wired mouse so you can move around as you speak.
- If sound effects are used, wait until the sound has finished to speak.
- If the content is complex, print the slides so the audience can take notes.
- Do not turn your back on the audience. Try to position the monitor so you can speak from it.
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10 PowerPoint hacks to make your presentations look more professional
Go easy on the content, and instead wow your audience with simple, streamlined slides..
Anybody who has been in the workforce for as long as you have has undoubtedly sat through a PowerPoint presentation. When those decks are good, they can be very helpful at explaining goals and visualizing data points.
But when PowerPoint presentations are bad, well, let’s just say you probably spent more time trying to figure out how so many different fonts could fit into a single slide rather than paying attention to the words they spelled out.
When it comes time for you to make a PowerPoint deck—and there will very likely come a time—you want to make sure that you use the program correctly so it reinforces your core messages and connects with your audience.
These 10 PowerPoint hacks can keep your presentations clean, effective and are surprisingly effective.
Write before you design
“At its best, PowerPoint can help show your audience what your message means,” says Kenny Nguyen, co-author of The Big Fish Experience: Create Memorable Presentations That Reel In Your Audience and CEO of Three Sixty Eight, a design agency in Baton Rouge. But first you need to clearly define what your message is and what your presentation goals are.
Sandra Johnson, owner of Presentation Wiz in Green Bay, Wisconsin , advises walking away from the computer completely at this stage because although PowerPoint is a powerful tool for delivering a presentation, it’s lousy for writing one. Instead, create the headlines for your slides on Post-It notes, sheets of paper or a sketchpad.
“Write one headline per Post-It/page, then lay them out so that you can see your story—in the form of headlines—come to life,” she says. “These allow you to move pages around and adjust headlines.”
Make sure your story has a clear beginning, middle and end. Once you have the bones of the presentation laid out, then you can write your script.
Start with a title slide that piques interest
Your title slide should make your audience want to know more. Pull them in quickly with a statement that directly addresses the questions you’re going to answer, such as “Why Stricter Regulations Are Good For Your Business.”
Another tactic is to make the audience part of the presentation. Tell them upfront how they are going to be involved in the information you’re presenting, such as “Choose the New Logo That Will Propel Our Brand Forward.”
Stick to simple designs
As you’re building out your PowerPoint deck, resist the temptation to unleash your inner artist. Less truly is more.
If your organization doesn’t have a template you’re required to use, choose one with a simple background, says David Paradi, presentation expert and owner of Think Outside the Slide in Mississauga, Ontario. If you’re in a hurry, you can always Google “free PowerPoint templates” and get started right away on a basic slide deck.
Select standard, sans serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri that will work on all computers and are easy to read, he says. Speaking of fonts: Choose three, max. And you have to use them consistently, Nguyen says. That means the same font for all headlines and the same for all body text.
Emphasize one point per slide
Your audience needs to easily absorb the information you’re sharing, otherwise all your efforts are for naught. If you pile multiple points into one slide, you risk overwhelming people, Johnson warns. Rule of thumb: Share one thought per slide.
Find yourself needing more slides than you have minutes available in your presentation? That’s a sign you may be cramming too much into the presentation itself. Edit your content ruthlessly.
Use text sparingly
If people are reading your slides, they aren’t listening to you. Keep the volume of text on each slide to the bare minimum; this will also maximize the impact of each word. “Write concise points that allow you to expand on each idea as you speak,” Paradi says.
Choose a font size of at least 24 points to ensure your audience can easily read your slides. Johnson suggests using only one headline or short sentence for each slide. If you must use bullet points, she says, use only three to five bullets with only three to five words each. Everyone’s eyes will thank you.
Select images for impact
Images should be chosen carefully to reinforce your message, not merely to jazz up the slide.
Use graphs and charts to show comparisons and trends, Johnson says. You don’t need a bar chart to show that sales grew by 16% in the fourth quarter, for example, but one can be helpful to show how sales grew compared with other quarters.
And please, pass on the generic clip art. Thinkstock, iStock and Stocksy are all better sources for stock images, should you find you need them. (Pro tip: You probably don’t.)
Practice your verbal presentation
PowerPoint slides are meant to be a complement to your speech—not the star of the show, which is you. Think of them like illustrations of the story that you’re telling.
To tell a good story, rehearse your presentation out loud to make sure it flows and fits in the time allowed, Paradi says. “If you can rehearse in the room and with the equipment you will be using, you will be more confident on the day of the presentation,” he says.
Nguyen recommends recording yourself during the practice presentation so you can identify and correct areas where you stumble.
Run it by a colleague
Let someone review your presentation deck before you go live with it. A trusted colleague or friend can check for embarrassing typos, as well as whether your message comes through loud and clear.
“PowerPoints are a great collaborative opportunity,” Johnson says. “You may be saying something a certain way, and a colleague may be able to offer a better approach.”
End with a persuasive call to action
Your last few slides should quickly summarize what you shared and guide your audience on how to use that information, Paradi says. This isn’t the time to introduce new ideas.
A great call to action is upbeat, specific and actionable. For example, a common one for an internal audience might be to adopt a new business process. If you work in sales, you might invite them to privately demo your product. If it’s a presentation to an external audience, you may invite them to contact you for more information.
Not sure what your call to action is? Return to that wall of Post-it notes you created at the very beginning.
Explore the power of PowerPoint
These hacks are useful in a pinch, but for the long term, it’s worth it to become familiar with the PowerPoint software itself. Take an online course and learn the finer points of creating presentations, including complex graphics, videos and slide changes.
These skills will increase your value proposition to your current and future employers, as well as make you feel more comfortable when creating and delivering presentations.
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30+ tips and tricks to make Google Slides presentation look good
Let’s face it, it’s no fun to look at a slide with heavy texts and overcrowded images. It leaves the audience bored and disinterested. It’s very important for your Google Slides presentation to look good in order to have your audience on board. You don’t need to be a designer to learn how to make aesthetic google slides. You can make some basic editing and formatting easily in Google Slides presentation to take it to the next level. In this article, we present some amazing hacks to have a killer presentation that leaves the audience in awe.
Be prepared for a bonus at the end!
Use Google Slides layouts wisely
1. customize slide layouts.
Every presentation needs to follow a basic layout which is regular throughout. Google Slides have a set of layout and theme options to choose from. But in case you wish to edit certain elements, you are free to do it. This will make the presentation truly yours. Click here for a complete guide on using layouts any fresher can use.
2. Use pretty backgrounds for Google Slides
Most of the professional presentations contain a lot of jargon-heavy information written in plain texts on plain backgrounds. Instead, include a transparent or mild background to support your text. The background can either be related to the story or just a plain color wall that goes with the text font and the context.
3. Draw attention with dark background
Audience gets tired of looking at bright colors all day. So, using a dark background not only catches their attention, but is also pleasant for the eyes. But remember to use the matte finish or mild colors for text with the dark background.
4. Try black and white theme to look professional
Often, a black and white theme stands out both because of the professionalism it conveys. This keeps your presentation minimal in appearance and adds to the authenticity of your delivery. But you should be careful not to make it look boring.
5. Use the Master Slides tool
Any change you make in the master slide will automatically reflect on all other slides. Customize the master slide first so that you can save time. You can modify backgrounds, rearrange placeholders, or change theme for the whole presentation with Master slides tool.
6. Keep it minimal
Don’t go fancy with the designs and fonts, keep it minimal. Overcrowding the slides with bulky texts and images or vibrant colors is not a good idea. It will distract the audience and make the presentation look unprofessional.
How to make Google Slides look good with Images
1. use shape masks to make creative images.
Using regular shapes like square and rectangle for images can get boring. To make it interesting, give different shapes to the images.
How to use shape masks in Google Slides:
Select the image you want to apply a shape mask on. Crop the image to the size you want. In crop tool, go to Shapes and choose a shape from the drop-down menu.
2. How to import images from the web
Adding relevant and catchy images make your google slides aesthetic. But you may not have the perfect image to go with the slide. In that case, you can directly download the picture from Google without leaving the tab.
How to import Google images into Google Slides:
Go to Insert >> Image >> Search the web >> Type in the name of the image you want. Or, go to Explore section and Google directly from the Slides tab.
3. Reflect your images if it suits the context
This will be a really cool effect, especially for slides with a single important image. Reflecting your images is a creative way to grab the attention with a single slide. But, this is a bit outdated feature, so it’s better to avoid for professional presentations.
How to reflect an image in Google Slides:
Select an image. Go to Format options and tick the box next to Reflection. Use the slider to adjust the size and transparency.
4. Make the image transparent
Another tip is to adjust the transparency of your image rather than adding a plain image. Plus, you can write relevant text on top of a transparent image.
How to make an image transparent in Google Slides:
Right-click on the picture and go to Formats option. Go to Adjustments >> Transparency. Adjust the transparency as per your requirements.
5. Resize and rotate shapes and images
When you import an image from the web, it might not be the right size for your slides. Google Slides allows you to resize and rotate the images and shapes.
To resize a picture, simply select the picture and move the cursor to bring to the desired size. To rotate an image, click the picture and choose Arrange. Then, click Rotate and select the preferred orientation. Avoid these while using images in Google Slides presentation: Though there are a hundred things you can do to your image, overdoing it will beat the point of making your Google Slides presentation look good. Following are some of the things you should avoid so that the slides look professional.
Using blurry or irrelevant pictures. Stretching or cropping the image more than necessary Low resolution images Watermarked images Not adding citations while using a picture you don’t own Crowding the slides with pictures Using reflection or transparency settings in all the images
Make your Google Slides presentation interactive
1. use the interactive q&a tool.
Having a Q&A section at the end helps you clear any doubts your audience might have. You can make it more interesting by using the Q&A tool. The audience don’t have to wait till the end of the presentation, they can type in the question whenever they want.
How to use the Q&A tool:
During your presentation, activate the Q&A feature by clicking on the Q&A tool. Audience sees a weblink where they can submit their questions. You can answer them at the end of the presentation. You can check the past questions by going to Tools >> Q&A history
2. Create a timeline
In many business presentations, you might need to present the progress of a project and timeline is an important part of it. It is easy to understand and remember. This can be used for interactions and discussions with the audience.
How to create timeline in Google Slides:
Go to Insert >> Diagram This shows a list of different types of timeline templates in built with Google Slides. Choose the one you like and edit it for your data.
Color schemes for your Google Slides presentation
1. edit theme colors.
Every Google Slide theme you choose comes with a pre-set color scheme. However, you can customize the theme according to the color you prefer.
Go to Slide >> Edit Theme Choose a color from the drop-down menu. Here’s a guide on choosing the right color for your Google Slides presentation.
2. Use color split
Using two different colors on the same slide is visually appealing. Make sure you use complementary colors like yellow and blue. For example, if you are using a blue background, use orange color for the texts.
3. Create a color overlay
Color overlay is a technique to make transparent shapes appear on your images or text. You can either apply it to the whole slide or a part of it.
Go to Insert >> Shape Choose a shape if you want to overlay only a part of your slide. Place the selected shape on the slide. Click on the shape and go to Fill colors and choose the color you want. Avoid these while choosing colors for your Google Slides presentation: While adding colors in a smart way can grab the audience’s attention, there are certain rules you should stick to while using them. Here is a small list of things to avoid in order to make your Google Slides look good.
Using multiple bold colors in a single slide Using same color for theme and texts Not sticking to your brand colors Using bright colors for reflection of images or texts. Overusing color gradient
Tips for text in Google Slides presentation
1. try different font attributes.
No one is going to read all the text in your presentation. So, you can highlight the parts which you want to stress on. You can make the text bold, italics, or underlined.
2. Research the top text fonts to use in Google Slides
There are a number of text fonts available in Google Slides, but not all of them make it to a professional presentation deck. So, it’s very important to know the most preferred text fonts to use in Google Slides.
Here are the 5 top text fonts:
Open sans Montserrat Cabin Ubuntu Lato
3. Use text box to have neat texts
Texts randomly strewn across the slides can be distracting for your audience. So, use a text box to have the texts placed in a neat way. You can also align your texts to left, right or centered to make it look professional.
4. Add a drop shadow to the text
Another way to make your texts look interesting is to use a drop shadow effect for Google Slides. However, if you lack experience in designing, we suggest you not to use this effect.
How to add drop shadow:
Select the text you want to use drop shadow on. Go to Format and check the box near Drop Shadow. Use the slider to adjust blur, transparency, and angle.
5. Add the technical terms to your personal dictionary
There might be terminologies or names that are specific to your topic, which may come off as spelling errors. In slides, they may appear in red and you may lose your credibility. To remove this, you can add those terms to the personal dictionary.
Go to Tools >> Personal dictionary Add the technical terms. They will no longer be shown as spelling errors. Common mistakes people make in Google Slides text: While the above features can make your text professional and easy to read, most people miss out on the basics.
Omitting indentation Wrong alignment of text on the slide Using very large or very small texts Not proofreading for typos Inadequate spacing between texts or lines.
Include infographics in Google Slides presentation
1. experiment with different types of diagrams.
If you have a lot of data to present, it’s better to present as graphs or charts instead of pulling off large sheets of data. There are different types of graphs you can use like line graph, bar graph, histogram, pie chart, etc. So, use them in your presentation. This adds credibility to your work and presentation.
2. Let your graph speak for itself
This means you must label, highlight or add everything in the graph such that anyone can analyze it. A single graph with right labels and arrows to show the trend can convey the meaning much better than large amount of texts or spreadsheets.
Add animation to make Google Slides presentation attractive
1. add subtle animation effects on texts.
If you have a lot of information to share on a single slide, use animations to delay some texts instead of displaying everything at a time. This works well for bullet points where you can display one point after another.
2. Add a GIF or a meme
One of the main reasons why presentations are boring is the lack of fun element. Adding a GIF or a relatable meme is not only funny, but helps you put the message across easily. It is an effortless attention grabber.
But you have to make sure it gets added as an animated GIF rather than a still image. For this, the following steps will help:
Find the GIF in Google and copy the image address. Go to Google Slides >> Image >> by URL Paste the URL and click Insert. Remember you have to insert the image by URL for it to play.
3. Add trimmed videos in Google Slides
People recollect visuals better than written text. So, if there is a video on YouTube which can explain what you want to convey, use it. But instead of including the full video, you can add only the relevant part by using the embed option.
4. Use transitions for slides
Adding smooth transition effects for individual slides helps in keeping the flow. The most recommended transition effects to use in a professional presentation are dissolve, fade in, slide from the left, fly in from bottom and fly in from left to right.
Go to Insert >> Animation Select a transition from the available options. Apply to a single slide or all slides, as you wish.
Are you terrified by the amount of effort you have to put in researching about fonts, choosing best colors and get the formatting perfect? This can be time-consuming if you designing is not your biggest flex.
Don’t worry! Here’s the good news!!
You can skip all these steps and still have an amazing presentation deck if you use professional templates!
Use Google Slides presentation templates
Making a presentation from the scratch is wasted time and energy which could be spent on crafting the story you want to convey. That’s why we bring to you the best presentation templates to help you tell your story in your unique way. SlideKit has professional templates designed by experts and you can customize it according to your needs. This can be installed as an add-on in Google Slides for free. It ensures consistency of aspects like font, theme, color scheme and layout used throughout the deck.
SlideKit has slides in the business and other professional domains which you can download, edit and use for free. Premium membership gives you access to 3500+ templates over 35+ niches. Using these templates will make your Google Slides presentation stand out. Here are a few tips to make the most out of SlideKit’s professional google slides templates .
1. Customize the templates
The presentation deck you choose will have all the design and infographic elements you need; but you need to customize them according to your data and your preferred color and font. In SlideKit, you can add images, videos, or hyperlinks, and place them wherever you want on the slide.
2. Use niche-specific templates
There are templates available for different domains, so choose the one that fits your industry. Templates are perfect for branding since they come with placeholders for logo, letterhead, contact details and website address. But it’s important to choose the one that is aligned with the industry. SlideKit makes it easier for you by giving you a variety of industry-specific options to choose from.
3. Plug in your data to relevant infographics
As mentioned before, including graphs and charts is beneficial for both you and your audience. Depending on the domain, SlideKit offers relevant infographics which can be customized according to your data. You can change the labels, legends, scale and figures, among many other features.
Now you have the best resources and tools to make your Google Slides presentation look compelling.
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15 design tips to improve the design of your PowerPoint presentations
Discover 15 simple rules to make your slides look better. By Slidor's creative director.
Information design is mostly a question of good practices. Then taste and creativity. Let's focus on the first point, you will soon realize that the quality of your presentations is directly linked to a set of rules that will fill 70% of the graphic work. Let's start.
The management of your texts is essential
The majority of your slide is composed of text and this is the first thing to act on. We often think that adding graphic elements to your slide will improve its rendering when in fact most of the work is done on the existing text. Often, acting only on the content hierarchy, font and space is enough to create a visual slide.
Do you find a user interface successful? Mostly because the texts are well managed and the chosen font works.
Choose a nice font, forget Calibri
By default, PowerPoint imposes Calibri on you. Not that the font is badly designed, but it is part of the Humanist family and often looks too classic or traditional. Other choices will make your presentation more visual. You wouldn't choose Calibri for your web site, neither would I.
If you need to use a system font
Segoe UI is ideal on Windows, it is the one of your operating system. Hyper readable in all sizes and available in several fat levels (bold, semi-bold, etc.).
Helvetica on Mac, or Avenir or even San Francisco.
If you need a common system font for both operating systems, choose Arial: one of the only choices left in the Sans-Serif family.
If you want a free font
Google fonts will offer you many choices adopted by millions of sites: Open Sans, Roboto, Raleway, Montserrat, Lato and all the others. Choices that are very good and that will already raise the level of your slides significantly.
Inter, created in 2016 and recently published on Google Fonts is one of the free fonts I like but already widely adopted. Poppins is one of my favorites as well.
If you are on a budget: premium fonts
If you want to stand out and go to a higher level of quality, premium fonts exist because they are often better.
And as practicaltypography.com puts it so well:
Please don't adopt the slogan "A Design Firm Unlike Any Other" and then set it in Helvetica.
My personal choices are: Circular (Spotify), Graphik, Eina Sans, Aktiv Grotesk, Quarto, Maison. Many other choices are available from these famous foundry: Monotype (authors of the recent Futura Now and Helvetica Now), Milieu Grotesque , Klim or Lineto .
One or two fonts?
One font is enough and it is the choice of most of the big brands to keep a recognizable visual identity.
If you want to use two, the rule is simple: use fonts from different families (Serif + Sans-Serif for example). Using two fonts that look the same is rarely a good idea, so avoid Arial + Segoe UI.
How do I embed a font in my PowerPoint?
If you export your presentation as a PDF, you can use any font and send your presentation which will always look good.
If you want to embed a font in your presentation, you can do so in the registration options, but your font must have embedding rights for this to be feasible. All Google Fonts are. Not licensed fonts.
Any computer on Windows will be able to open the presentation and read it with the right fonts if the user has administrative rights on his computer. On the Mac, you will usually have to install them first, although recent versions on the Mac do support font integration. Version 16.17 (September 24, 2018) brings this feature, the most recent to date being 16.39.
My advice: send your presentations in PDF externally, never in PPTX. Internally, ask IT to pre-install your fonts on all workstations or install them yourself if you have administrator rights.
Line spacing (leading).
You will never be able to get visual slides if you don't adjust this point. The default line spacing on PowerPoint is too low, consider increasing it (1.2 or 1.3) on your body text (8-16px). On the contrary, reduce it on large texts (>20px : it often happens that you have to set it at 0.9 or 0.8). In reality the leading also depends on the length and width of your paragraph, or the background color of your slide, but simply increasing it on body text will already give a significant improvement.
Large text size = less leading. Small text size = more leading.
Aligning all your texts to the left ensures that you don't make any mistakes. You can center your texts if you want to get symmetry in a slide, and on short texts. Never justify on a presentation.
Mixing alignments (centered then left aligned) within the same slide is rarely a good idea, unless your elements are already part of a box that encapsulates them.
The visual hierarchy
The Web abuses it just like advertising posters, and our slides can often use this principle: a large font size for titles or strong messages, and a reasonable size for a sentence explaining the product or service. In short: avoid using a font size that is too similar to two distinct hierarchical elements and make a difference. Your headline invites reading and should be relatively large.
The negative space (or white space) is what allows you to give importance to each of your elements.
"Make the logo bigger, make the text bigger, make the pictograms bigger" are all guidelines that will take away from the elegance and clarity of your design. The space is part of your design and you must consider it as a graphic element that you can't remove. The most common mistake in design is trying to fill it.
You will find space in everything around you to give importance: art galleries and exhibited paintings, call to actions on websites, or even the Google homepage. In practice, each element must have a sufficient margin of space.
The corporate practice is often to stick our title in the top left corner in order to leave room for our content and this is already a costly mistake for your design. Tuck your titles inside your slide, and let your elements breathe. This will create an invisible frame to your design. Have you ever seen a title that touches the top left corner of your screen on a website? I haven't either. Same principle for our slides.
Example of improving a slide by playing on the space:
The space inside your boxes
If you're creating boxes to hold your items, again leave those wide margins to showcase the content inside.
The same principle applies to icons, leave large margins and choose a reasonable size.
Composition is king
Your slides don't have to be all the same.
You've heard these returns before and you shouldn't follow them:
"Titles should all be in the same place and in size 18"
"You have to repeat the logo all the time in this place."
"The template must be respected on all slides".
A presentation, like all visual media (web, magazine, advertising) should not be a recurring sequence of the same design. Give rhythm, change the compositions and arrange your content to highlight it and make people want to continue reading.
Beyond the graphic charter, we talk about "Design System", a set of rules that allows you to express yourself within a framework in any medium and need, but which would never impose the placement of a title always in the same place on a medium.
We forget the "good practices" of consulting firms that are often in the constraint, and we prefer a presentation that offers diversity as long as you stay in your graphic universe, or your Design System. A professional presentation does not necessarily imply a restrictive framework, no matter what the subject is. The composition should be everywhere: from the most serious documents to event keynotes.
Standard composition (title at the top left, content on two columns)
Same slide with optimized composition for content
Want to add 3 paragraphs to the last example? Change the composition again
Other examples of original compositions
The design in columns
Think Web and realize that no textual content takes up the entire width of the screen (Ok, except for the bad boy Wikipedia).
It's the same principle for slides that require the use of at least two columns or to limit the width of your content. This is to avoid wandering the eye across the entire width of the screen when reading and to keep paragraph sizes reasonable, especially on 16:9.
Skip the bullet points
PowerPoint is by far the number one ambassador of the bulleted list. You can almost always get by without and keep your slides visual, thanks to the space and hierarchy of your text. Avoid starting your paragraphs with bullet points as well, even though that is the default option in PowerPoint.
If you encapsulate your elements, do it subtly
Divide your content when presenting orally
Companies will often ask you for a number of slides for a presentation rather than express it in time. "10 slides maximum." Whereas the presentation is 20 minutes long. That gives us 2 minutes per slide, the same amount of time it takes an adult to do 70 squats. That's way too much and often forces you to fill 2 minutes of content on a single slide.
Start with slides that are about 30 seconds long, and allow for variations depending on the point being made. In fact, the number of slides in your presentation does not increase its length. And the simple fact of clicking to go to the next information will remind your audience to see what's going on on the screen, but also to set the pace. On top of that, you'll have more space and more creative possibilities for your content. Take advantage of this.
Dividing your content not only allows you to have more impact, but also pushes you to be creative and illustrate your content with images because you will actually have a message to illustrate. Take this slide from Google as an example, just by splitting it we were able to make its content much more impactful to showcase their product:
Another example with a financial report slide for AirFrance-KLM
Process your slides in a creative way
It would be difficult to apply a process for all our slides but a good way to proceed would be in general :
- Start with the composition and try to think about the importance of each element and the right way to organize them in the slide
- Think about the visual hierarchy and mark the difference between your elements
- Change the font, adjust the line spacing
- Adjust the negative space for each element
- Finish with the elements that will give more creativity to your slides (colors, patterns, pictograms, etc)
And if you want to go further, delegate this task to our presentation design agency .
Co-founder and creative director of Slidor.
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