Last time, we looked some critical tips for making presentation design easier, such as the power of narratives and the rule of threes. This time, we’re going through more important presentation tips to streamline design and ensure you’re prepared for presenting to audiences, whether live or digitally.
Presentation Design Tips for Getting Started
The most important thing to begin your design and preparation process is to plan and write out everything. It’s vital to always have a plan, giving yourself ample time to get it done. Make note of the presentation deadline in your schedule and then break down the creation process into other tasks to be allocated to the days prior, such as content, design, and rehearsal.
This is where writing comes into the design process as you should begin with some basic bulletpoints and ideas that will outline the purpose and eventual structure for your PowerPoint presentation. Be sure to keep you audience in mind when deciding on content and design elements, but more importantly, write a narrative-driven presentation that answers your audience’s common questions or address their shared challenges.
We say this often, but PowerPoint structure is critical – there must be an overarching theme and purpose to your presentation, which should be reinforced through its structure. Remember those classic structure templates such as PASTO (preparation, action, struggle, turnaround, outcome) and AIDA (attention, interest, desire, and action) – both these acronyms outline a simple writing structure that can easily be applied to help create audience engagement while simplifying your design process.
Developing and using a consistent process for presentation design will not only save you time, but ensure you maintain a standard of design quality. Here’s a simple design outline that can help you understand the steps involved: brainstorm > outline > structure > storyboard > design > delivery. However, this is just a simplified example of the presentation design process. The key is finding a process that fits your work style and following that process consistently.
Presentation Design Tips for Efficiency
Once you’ve got a simple structure (maybe a moodboard or storyboard) it’s time to begin designing and this is where we’d recommend you repurpose available resources. There is zero shame in using free templates and stock imagery, especially if you’re presenting for a non-commercial purpose. But even if you’re trying to sell something, convince someone, or motivate an audience – there are thousands of resources available to help you reduce design time and simplify your creation process.
While standard templates often look generic and uninspired, you can use templates as a foundation for your own original designs – adding your own elements, incorporating your brand colours, imagery, and fonts.
PowerPoint is made for repurposing content, editing old resources, and creating something greater than before – so use PowerPoint to its fullest. Keep a library of free images, old PowerPoint presentations, templates, and other design resources to save yourself time and sanity.
Also remember, complete is better than perfect since perfection is a myth and generally impossible. A finished design that looks kind of basic is much better than a beautifully designed but incomplete slideshow. To help get you designing efficiently, pick your priorities, ensuring the critical information and design elements are present before getting creative with animation and other accoutrements.
Details can often be destructive, so resist the temptation to over tinker your design. Minimalism is still a powerful way to ensure your presentation design creates an impact and is retained by audiences. Your slides should only contain the most critical information, essentially anything that helps reinforce what you’re saying or supports arguments being made verbally.
Presentation Design Tips for Impact
As a consequence of this drive towards simplicity, ‘flat foil designs’ are growing more prominent in PowerPoint. This should not only reduce the amount of on-screen content, but also reduce the design workload in getting your presentation audience ready. For example, a two-colour design with uniform fonts that are bold and large creates has a modern effect. Remember, for white space, the ratio is 2/3 with content not occupying more than 1/3 of the space on a foil.
This also leads to more image and text masking, which can be another useful way to achieve a minimalist look, particularly using bold typography for text masking. You can also use a whole word for masking a duplicated image to show even greater connection between your key word and image. Or try a single or double letter to carve out an imposing background that gives a bit of depth and 3D effect to your slide.
Simplicity and impact can easily be embodied through flat colours and sharp contrasts. Flat colours look bold but not too visually distracting for audience eyes, so they often work well for background colours while bold and contrasting fonts or images help highlighting important information, ensuring audiences notice these key design elements.
In terms of font, it’s always wise to find ones that complement the theme and purpose of your presentation design. Helvetic is a classic, timeless font that always looks clean and impactful. For example, iPhone iOS uses Helvetica Neue and rap group Run DMC’s logo uses Helvetica Black.
However, we believe that presentation design is built on minimising text, using infographics and images where possible to illustrate a point better than it can be explained. There is absolutely no need to put your presentation script on screen, so reserve your slideshow for important images, key points/arguments (never more than a sentence or two) and data visualisation. Remember, images are better than words so always go with pictures over prose.