It has been said that PowerPoint is the enemy of awesome. While it may not be the most design-friendly program, presentation matters. In a field driven by communication, great presentations get your ideas the attention they deserve. Here are a few key thoughts and bits of design advice that can make a world of difference when working in PowerPoint.
1. Design isn’t just ‘pretty’
If I could shout one bit of advice from the roof-tops, it would be this: design is not just about making things pretty, it’s about highlighting what’s important and then making that the visual focus. Designers call it hierarchy. It’s paying attention to how easy it is for people to understand the content. The best way to keep people engaged is to make it easy for them to read and understand what you’re saying. It’s not hard to do, just keep your slides simple, easy to read and to the point.
2. Beware of picture frenzy!
There’s no doubt that visuals can do a lot to enliven a deck. Yet, it’s so easy to go overboard thinking that the pictures will keep people interested. While there’s certainly some truth to this, there are also a few things worth bearing in mind. One, images can be plain distracting and two, whether or not you mean to, when you add images or artwork, you’re also adding a visual language. Be careful that it’s supporting and not overshadowing your message and content. Also, don’t use images as a crutch. Try to select images that feel relevant and meaningful. In the most general sense, images should convey something that you can’t say with words.
TIP: Play with Image Transparency
If you do chose to add images, my biggest piece of advice is to play with the transparency. It gives you a softer effect and allows your content to be center stage. Just select the image and play with the transparency lever. (This one is at 73%.)
3. Sprinkle in some design
Yes, we know PowerPoint is not a design program, but … that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a few token design features and effects. A lot of people don’t know, or don’t use the Quick Styles and Effects palette, which is a super simple feature that let’s you sprinkle in a few design touches.
TIP: Add a Filter or Frame
If you’ve never played around with the Quick Styles and effects palette, I recommend experimenting with it. There’s dozens of great frames and effects that can really make your graphics pop. All you have to do is select the image and then select the various frames to see the preview of the effect.
4. 6 Fonts that are your friends
Generally speaking, keep it simple with the typefaces, but simple does not mean using the default. There’s definitely a difference between simple and standard. No need to go crazy with the typefaces, here are a few clean, versatile typefaces that will ensure your deck looks both polished and modern.
Sans Serif: (Modern Clean)
Heiti TC Light
Baskerville Old Face
5. Grey is the new black
It might sound like a small, possibly even inane detail, but changing the color of the type from pure black to slate grey makes it look oh, about a hundred percent better. Don’t believe me? Try it yourself.
TIP: Change Text Color from Pure Black to Dark Grey
It’s easy to do, just select the type, then go into the color palette and select a dark grey shade.
So, for a quick recap:
Follow these five easy tips and your presentations will not only be easier to understand, but also worth remembering.