In the spirit of making design quicker, easier, and more impactful – we’ve put together some important PowerPoint tips. Whether you’re starting from a script or designing for a client, the idea is to keep things simple and work with the audience in mind. PowerPoint’s deceptively simple layout hides just how comprehensive and multifunctional this design software can be in the right hands.
Ignore PowerPoint’s Instincts
PowerPoint is an intelligent program that will regularly make suggestions, offer guidance, and provide default options to make things easier. However, these default design choices are old, generic, and have been used by presenters for years.
It may seem easier and more convenient to run with PowerPoint’s suggestions and default options – but don’t! Your audience will certainly pay less attention if they recognise the stock imagery, bulletpoints, and fonts they’ve seen from PowerPoint since high school presentations. Speaking of ‘breaking the default’…
Customise, customise, customise
PowerPoint was made for customisation since if offers so many different editing options. Even customising the slide sizes offers you more freedom for creating for print designs or uploading your PowerPoint to online platforms.
Editing a template that you’ve downloaded online can help rid your PowerPoint of its generic look and feel. After all, PowerPoint was made for multimedia, so collating and customising different design assets can help make your slideshow look uniquely yours.
The key to doing this is ‘Format’ in PowerPoint, which allows you to make adjustments to shapes, objects, and images. From shadows, to measurements, reflections, added text, or even recolouring – format will let you customise visual elements in PowerPoint easily.
Write for your Audience – not to them
Every content and design choice that goes into creating your PowerPoint should be motivated by your audience. Since writing is generally the first step in designed a slideshow, you should be writing with them in mind. Why should they listen to you? How will your presentation benefit them?
Framing everything from your audience’s point of view will ensure they connect with the content, empathise with the characters, and see value in what you’re presenting. With a clear understanding of your audience, you can align your content with your overarching presentation objective, whether it’s to inform, entice, create awareness, or drive action. Speaking of writing…
Fonts are your Friend
A strong front can really help your audience absorb what’s being presented – some fonts are even iconic, further establishing the brand and message on slide. When it comes to picking fonts for your presentation, bear in mind any font’s availability and legibility.
Finding a great font that speaks to your brand is totally fine, but be sure the font is available on the device you’re presenting from. Otherwise, you should consider saving and embedding the fonts to ensure you don’t end up with broken text.
In terms of legibility, it’s often best to keep it simple. Not only so you don’t have to other with uncommon fonts that may not be available, but it will also ensure your on-slide text is easy to read rather than a distraction for audiences. It’s generally best to keep it simple, sticking to the standard (but not default) fonts that are offered through PowerPoint – such as Helvetica, Helvetica, Arial, Open San, Gill Sans, or Roboto.
Unlearn that Adobe stuff
Adobe has some very useful features that helps streamline the design process, but PowerPoint simplifies the way multimedia can be customised and manipulated, so long as users are willing to experiment.
The key is to avoid default colour palettes and fonts by designing your own or heavily customising the built-in content. Also, remember that you can change default settings of any new PowerPoint document in the Master Slide view, then use the Font and Colours drop-down menus to find your own aesthetic, setting the look and size consistency with Master Slide.
Users don’t have to remain restricted to default shapes in PowerPoint. With the Merge Shapes tool designers combine, subtract, or crop default shapes into more compelling and varied shapes. You can also use the Edit Points tool to further reshape your designs freehand by moving vector points around, pulling on anchor points to edit Bezier curves, adding and subtracting points like in Adobe Illustrator. This can also be used in conjunction with photographs or images. You can use Intersect to crop images and photographs into more interesting shapes rather than stock-standard squares and rectangles.
In PowerPoint – Simplicity is Persuasive
Your slides – no matter how creative or eye catching – shouldn’t be the headline act, but more like your hypeman. Keep your text and images clear and concise, using them only to supplement your message and make the content easier for audiences to understanding.
If your slides have dense and cluttered information, it will distract your audience and increase the chances that they stop paying attention. Nothing in your slides should be superfluous or simply decorative. Persuasive presentations are generally clean, simple, and support what’s being said. This means limiting your text, using negative space well, and ensuring data visualisation is legible.
Embed Font and Files
As a common issue for PowerPoint users looking to share or present their slides, fonts should be embedded in your PowerPoint or installed in the device you’re using. There are various options for saving and embedding font files to ensure you don’t end up with broken text on your slides.
Another simple workaround for embedding fonts is to save PowerPoint presentations text as JPEGs and then inserting them into the slides as images. While this means you won’t be able to edit the text itself, it does ensure that any writing will be saved and displayed as you see it. However, if your presentation includes animation then you’ll need to save JPEGs of each “frame” of the animation. Then, in your final presentation, you’ll just display those JPEGs in the order you’d like the animation to appear.
Since PowerPoint also allows you to link to video and audio files externally or to embed them – you should embed these files if and where you can. Embedding allows you to play media directly in your presentation, making it look more seamless than switching between windows. Embedding also means that the file stays within the PowerPoint presentation, so it should play normally without extra work.
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.