PowerPoint cover

10 tips for a well-designed PowerPoint

Brenda Mraz-Skibinski, May 10, 2016

PowerPoints – we’ve all seen them, and chances are you’ve created one yourself. They can be helpful in delivering information, but with preprogrammed styles and poor practices, they can also hinder our ability to design presentations that connect. The cookie-cutter look with blocks of bullets, drab color schemes, and overdone borders reduces the effectiveness of the presentation.

PowerPoints should help audiences hold on to the speaker’s words, aid understanding with supporting visuals, and provoke thoughts and questions. They should tell a story that resonates. And they CAN be pretty in the process.

So what’s the remedy? With quite a few presentation design projects under our belts, here are some tips to create a fresh, engaging and inspiring presentation.

  1. Keep text to a minimum. PowerPoints are meant to supplement what the speaker is saying, not serve as a script. Focus on the most important takeaways, with one major idea per slide.
  2. Ditch the bullets. Bullets can be effective, but not when you simply split a paragraph into 17 wordy bullet points.
  3. Skip that standard template. Focus on creating your own custom look, designing each slide individually to best accommodate your content.
  4. Change it up. Not every slide has to look the same. Take the time to consider what you’re trying to get across, and think about the best approach for showing it.
  5. Avoid ownership overkill. Your company logo doesn’t need to appear on every single slide. Making it prominent at the beginning and closing should be sufficient. Let your brand shine through the entire presentation by using on-brand colors and typefaces.
  6. Limit the # of colors. While colors can add life and elicit emotion, too many can become distracting. Use no more than five colors throughout. Added bonus: Repeating colors from one slide to the next helps create a theme that ties them together.
  7. Use simple, sweeping images. Images help add a new dimension to your spoken words, but people won’t be able to process too many visuals at once. One large, dramatic image is more impactful than multiple images.
  8. Play with typography. Cleverly treated type can say just as much as an image. If you have a few keywords that surface, present them in an unexpected way that gets attention.
  9. Lose unnecessary charts & infographics. While they can look very cool and polished, they’re not always the answer. Overuse detracts from their effectiveness – employ them sparingly for content that makes sense.
  10. Provide relief. Be it a dose of comedy, striking photo or soothing color, give your audience a momentary break from dense topics. Brains need a rest, and as the presenter, you probably do too.

PowerPoint offers a host of automated features to help us better present information, but human touches are essential to capture our target audience: humans! We could go on and on, but all these tips boil down to three easy-to-remember words: clean, simple, bold. If you keep those in mind when designing your next PowerPoint, you’re sure to be a showstopper.

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