As workers continue to navigate the new hybrid work environment, meeting and Zoom fatigue continues to be at an all-time high. With employees constantly jumping from meeting to meeting, it’s more integral than ever that presentations are designed with intention and reaching the audience.
5 Tips on Effective PowerPoint Presentation Design
Below, we’re laying out five quick ways to take your PowerPoint presentation design to the next level.
Tip #1: Typography is Everything
When it comes to your audience quickly processing and digesting the information on your slide, typography can be an excellent tool to direct the eye. As you move throughout your presentation, consider informational hierarchy when it comes to what typefaces you’re using. As you move between slides, the same level of information should use the same typeface, so viewers can quickly make sense of a slide and visually organize the information.
If your organization’s template and brand identity permit, think about combining the use of serif and sans-serif fonts to show differentiation between headlines and body copy. Consider experimenting with different font weights, capitalization, or kerning to differentiate levels of information. Even some of these small touches that take less than 30 seconds really take your slide design to the next level.
Tip #2: Think About Your Goals
As you consider your PowerPoint presentation design, it’s important to keep your end goals top of mind. Often when we read about strong presentations, it’s advised to keep text at a minimum on slides and use big, bold imagery.
For more storytelling-type presentations, this can be incredibly impactful. However, when we think about how our clients are often using presentation decks, it’s usually both as a presentation as well as a leave-behind referenceable material, meaning the extra language and context is integral. In our experience, the best presentation design balances this principle of “less is more” while still being a document that folks can come back to and understand.
Tip #3: Use Color with Intention
When thinking through a PowerPoint presentation design, it’s tempting to go a little wild with color – all the hues and tints are there, why not use them? While color can be a great tool to add visual variety to your slides and create meaning, it’s important to use color with intention.
It’s no secret that many colors have implicit psychological associations, which is something to be careful of when it come to your slide design. Reds are often associated with negative, green with positive, and yellow with neutral, so be careful how you’re using those colors, especially in data visualization. Even when working with a monochromatic pallet, we generally associate darker shades with a higher, more positive value and lighter tints with a lesser value.
Color can also be a great way to visually organize and divide information on your slide. Maybe you have more in-depth information in the center of your slide, but want to highlight some key call-outs so someone who is quickly scanning can understand the key information. Consider using a box with a color fill to draw the viewer’s attention to the key call-outs.
Tip #4: Generally Avoid Special Effects
Sure, that “curtains closing” slide transition is fun in theory, but is it really elevating how you’re communicating to your audience? Probably not – and it may even be taking away from your presentation. Special effects and transitions that are intended to keep the audience’s attention can often actually distract from the content itself.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean your PowerPoint presentation design should forego transitions and slide movement entirely. Consider using transitions, like builds, when you are moving through a complex chart or diagram and want to highlight a certain feature. When you keep all information constant except for one specific key callout, a viewer’s eyes will be drawn to the information that changed on the slide, keeping them focused on the content you are speaking.
Trend #5: Opt for Icons or Imagery over Clip Art
So, you’ve finished your presentation deck, you’re scanning back through, and you realize it’s looking a little text-heavy, so you decide to add some visuals. Before you reach for that clip art, consider what other options you have.
Think about adding simple, clean iconography as a way to add visual impact to your slide while maintaining a modern look and feel. When we’re working with our clients, we often suggest using flat-style icons, meaning they’re predominantly line-based rather than 3D iconography. We find that flat icons can more seamlessly pair together and blend into presentations.
Another great option to add visual impact to a slide is through the use stock images. Many organizations have subscriptions to stock image sites, like iStock, that have a vast library of imagery that extends beyond the very posed, staged images that may come to mind when you think of stock images. When it comes to selecting imagery, we tend to suggest using more natural-looking, candid images, and consider using a black and white filter on them so they feel cohesive and not in competition with the design of the rest of your presentation.
A few simple updates can take your presentation design to the next level and help keep your audience’s attention. The next time you’re working through a PowerPoint presentation, consider what quick design tricks you can put into play.
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