If you have an upcoming presentation, then chances are you will look into setting up a PowerPoint. Everyone seems to have used this platform at some point- it’s the gold standard for presentation visuals for everything from class science projects to giving a talk at a professional conference in front of hundreds of people. So if everyone uses PowerPoint, why hasn’t anyone managed to master PowerPoint design?
There are thousands of customization options for PowerPoints that can make presentation design a complicated process. Let’s say you see a presentation where the PowerPoint uses transition animations between slides and moving graphics to emphasize points. Most likely, this comes across to you as trying too hard- the Powerpoint has become a distraction from what the speaker is actually trying to say.
On the other hand, you’ve also probably seen presentations where the PowerPoint slide was filled to the brim with text. This much text can be equally distracting to the presentation audience; they end up spending their time reading all the text on the screen rather than listening outright.
The best PowerPoints are visually appealing because of their simplicity. The best PowerPoint is merely an aid to your presentation rather than the presentation itself. What you are saying in a presentation should always be the central focus of the audience’s attention. With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few tips for improving the design of your next PowerPoint.
Use Simple Colors
The first opportunity to simply your PowerPoint design is on the slide backgrounds. When your backgrounds feature images or colors that draw attention to themselves, you will distract your audience. Unfortunately, PowerPoint offers only a few designs that lie between plain and distracting- choose carefully. Simple backgrounds can still work when they feature well-written text and carefully chosen images.
After you have picked a background design, consider the color of the font. The goal here is to choose the font and text color that is easiest to read relative to the background. Font colors are rarely a point of interest for the audience, even when that bright turquoise is somehow easy to read.
The color of the graphics, tables, and charts should remain simple and consistent throughout the presentation. Avoid inserting ovals around text, and stick to circles or rectangles for outlining. Consider using a light grey for arrows and filled-in shapes, as this is rarely in contrast with other colors and does not distract the viewer.
Images are the Most Interesting Visual Aid
Images are the easiest ways to get your audience to forget they are looking at a PowerPoint. Including images doesn’t mean your PowerPoint should turn into a slideshow. Still, images can often complement what you are saying and help the audience visualize an example or story you are trying to tell.
If you are searching for images to use in PowerPoint presentations, and find it tricky to find images related to your topic, consider using Adobe Stock. The visuals available through this platform are always high resolution and well-shot, and guarantee you won’t get a computer virus from downloading random images from the internet. Don’t forget- a picture is worth a thousand words!
This point is a major one. Limiting the text on a slide is the number one way to make your PowerPoints visually appealing and organized. The automatic assumption most PowerPoint viewers make is that all the words on the slide are essential. Elsewise, why are they included on the screen?
Too much text on a screen for educational presentations may also mean that the audience spends time writing down the things you wrote on the slide, which in turn means they will spend less time listening to what you are saying.
Reserve the PowerPoint’s text for bullets that keep the audience in the know with the point you are trying to prove. If you are interested in speaking about statistics, your PowerPoint is an excellent place to display the specific numbers. Keep the word count on each slide below 40 words whenever possible.
One of the best things to include in PowerPoint text is a question, or rather a few of them. Questions set up the audience to seek the answers to the questions you have posed. Then, center the presentation time around answering these questions. This is a “solution-oriented” approach to presenting and is often an effective way to keep your audience’s attention throughout your talk.
Skip the Transitions
PowerPoint includes an array of options for complicating the design process for presentations. One of these complications is the transitions feature, which animates the time between your slides. These might include fades, sliding graphics, or the notorious “dissolve” effect. These animations typically only serve to distract and are not particularly impressive or fun. Keep the transitions as smooth as possible and read up on the best ways to use PowerPoint animations.
Make sure to read over your slides a few times and check for grammatical errors. Usually, you are aiming to use an authoritative and professional voice while presenting. Grammatical errors can undercut the establishment of this voice.
Here are a few questions to ask while reviewing the slides: Are your sentences or text elements short and to the point? Is everything that appears on screen related to what you want to say? Cut out any parts of the PowerPoint that seem extraneous, overly wordy, or generally unnecessary.
Keep your PowerPoints as simple as possible, with images that highlight your presentation’s topic. PowerPoint has many unnecessary features, and it’s easy to get caught up in design options such as transitions, background music, and stock templates. And if you are truly interested in getting an outstanding PowerPoint design for your next presentation, you can even spring for a professional PowerPoint design service.