Designing Successful Presentations

Posted by Erik Waage

Jan 28, 2014 2:00:00 PM


We use presentations as a means of communication. Projected slides should be as visual as possible and support our point quickly, efficiently and powerfully. We are visual creatures and one big failure is clutter among others.

5 PowerPoint offenses to avoid at all costs:

  • Clutter—Clients often try to cram in too much content, or too many ideas, on one slide. These can be cut down or made into other slides.
  • Clipart—These still seem to be used, but stay away. It just looks tacky and unprofessional.
  • Bullets and Sub-Bullets—Slide after slide of bullet points makes presentations formal and stiff. Cut your copy down and simplify. Ask you yourself (or us!), how can I make this copy visual?
  • Competing Backgrounds—Clean and clear, the use of open space will help keep your visual message concise and prominent.
  • Animation Effects—Don’t over-animate! Use only when and where needed to help drive home your point.

Use thoughtful design to capture and intrigue your audience

Remember to simplify everywhere you can. This will help keep your audience focused on you and what you are presenting. Design should be thoughtful. At its core, design is about solving problems,whatever the problem may be.

So, while we’re on lists of fives…Remember these 5 PowerPoint elements help build an engaging presentation:

  • Images—They can serve as both the background and foreground, making the overall visual more dynamic and unified with a clearer, more dramatic look.
  • White Space—The white space around a group of elements unifies the visual elements. A consistent amount of space between visual elements pushes them apart and identifies them clearly.
  • Contrast—By contrasting an object against the others, you automatically create attention and bring the audience’s eyes to that object. Contrast can be created by a change in color, size, and even object.
  • Line-setting and Information Heirarchy—Related items should be grouped together, so that the audience will not need to work to figure out which caption goes with which visual. Line-setting the text aids the audience in figuring out where their eyes should go next.
  • Statistics and Graphics—Data slides are not really about the data; they are about the meaning of the data. It is better to isolate the data and only use the parts that truthfully and accurately support your point.
  • Repetition—Sounds like a bad thing, but, repetition simply means using similar elements throughout the design of your presentation. It gives a sense of unity, consistency and cohesiveness.

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