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According to polls, there are three main reasons why people make Powerpoint or Keynote presentations. They are:

  • To summarize complex data and present it.
  • To inspire and entertain.
  • To share a case study or a personal story.

Whatever motive you may have for creating a presentation, there are basic guidelines you need to follow while choosing a theme and customizing it. If you read the text below before making your first slide, your presentation is more likely to be a success.

Table of contents:

  1. The basic guidelines for creating a presentation:
  2. Don’t put too much content on one slide
  3. Emphasize the right things
  4. Use grids to create balance
  5. Make your slides consistent
  6. Don’t use a generic theme
  7. Put your audience first
  8. Prepare and rehearse
  9. Start with feelings, end with data
  10. Tell a story
  11. Don’t go over the top with your design
  12. 2. What will the right visuals do for your presentation?
  13. Make your content memorable
  14. Keep your audience focused
  15. Emphasize your story
  16. Inspire action
  17. Explain your data
  18. 3. How to use typography in a presentation
  19. Be bold
  20. Chose the font wisely
  21. Consistency is key
  22. Pair the fonts
  23. Align with care
  24. 4. How to use color in a presentation

The basic guidelines for creating a presentation:

Don’t put too much content on one slide

The big difference between the presentations to be sent out to people and those delivered in person is that the latter should be very succinct. Don’t make your audience stare too much at your slides trying to read the text. And you also cannot rely on reading the slides when during the presentation.

If you want your ideas to be remembered, have no more than one idea on one slide.

A few years ago, it was a common practice to use a lot of bullet points on slides. Today, experts recommend ditching bullet points altogether. A good slide will have no more than 6 words on it, so you can actually do without bullets.

Emphasize the right things

If any of your slides takes more than 3 seconds to read and understand, it should be optimized. Don’t be afraid of creating large presentations containing more than 20 or 30 slides. Lately, as the optimal amount of text you see on a single slide decreased to 6 words, the number of pages in a presentation increased. It is important, though, that your slides should have one overarching message.

Your audience should be able to understand what you unique take on the situation is and why are you an expert in the field. Also, they should understand the consequences of adopting your point of view. Make sure you explain what is at stake. This will be the main message they take away from the presentation.

Use grids to create balance

When it comes to visual presentation, human eyes seek harmony.

We normally don’t see grids in presentations but they are there to build underlying structure. Use these vertical and horizontal lines to align your text and visuals.

Place important elements in the middle of your slides. If you have several images or text boxes on one slide, make sure that all the margins are even. If is better, though, to stick to the One Image Per Page rule.

If you use columns, try to make them as symmetrical as possible. Make the distance between the columns and images even too, this will make your slides more balanced and easy on the eyes.

Make your slides consistent

Creating a consistent design would mean arranging all slides in a similar manner. What do you need to pay attention to?

Imagine how viewers move their eyes from one slide to another. Which elements will they see first? You need to make sure that the placement of the brightest element is similar and predictable across all slides.

Try to use contrast in similar ways across all slides: you can play with contrasting colors, sizes, fonts, etc.

Be consistent in leaving enough white space on all slides. To make sure the viewers notice and remember the right things from your presentation, isolate the key elements on slides with ample negative space.

Don’t use a generic theme

If you really care about the impression you will make on your audience, don’t use presentation designs that go with the software. First of all, they are often boring. Also, they are not original enough to contribute to your particular presentation and story. Premade themes don’t get updated often enough, so most of them will be outdated. Using a generic theme may kill your presentation right from the start.

Think about starting with clean slides and creating your own special design. If you don’t want to spend time creating your own design, chose one of the themes available on our website. They were created by professionals for various business and corporate needs. All the themes you find on this website are in line with the latest graphic design trends.

Put your audience first

You need to remember that you will not be presenting to furniture, there will be people listening to you. Sometimes, presenters may get nervous and sound like they are talking to their slides.

Such presentations are rarely successful.

The key to delivering a presentation that people will admire and remember is trying to see your content from their perspective.

What will they get from listening to you? What will be interesting to them? Why do they need to know these facts? Make sure you can answer these questions even before making your first slide.

Prepare and rehearse

You have to know your own content inside out to present it in a persuasive manner. First of all, do not read from the slides. Ever. Even that one word. Practice telling a coherent story and pointing only occasionally to the slides. You can rehearse your presentation in front of the miror to make sure you look relaxed enough.

Also, remember that you need to make eye contact with the audience and answer their questions. Try to use all you have: the tone of voice, your body pose, your gestures to emphasize your point and build connection with the audience. When you have practiced enough, you can let yourself relax and breath through your presentation. By doing so, you will show people that you are enjoying the moment and they can too.

Start with feelings, end with data

When starting your presentation, you need to capture the attention of your audience. If you fail to do that from the first slides, the situation will hardly change along the way. To hook people up on your content, start with something emotional. It is better if your first slide contains a short heading or an image. When talking, let the audience know that you are passionate about the topic and why. It’s great if you can start with a personal story or a joke.

The hard data you need to share should be visualized and added to the latter slides. In the very last slides, summarize your point and don’t forget to thank people for listening.

Tell a story

There could hardly no doubts about the importance of storytelling in communication. When people try to share information in private conversations, they intuitively create a storyline. Stories get understood and remembered better than any other type of content.

How can you turn your business presentation into a story?

  1. Focus on people (including yourself) and build present your data around characters. If you are giving a business presentation, talk about target clients, competitors, marketers and how your product was shaped by their needs.
  2. Add dynamism. There’s no story if nothing is happening. For a business presentation, you can ask yourself a question: What’s next? What are planning to do? What changes need to be made? By answering these questions you can create a dynamic storyline.

Don’t go over the top with your design

When it comes to presentations, it’s sometimes hard to avoid cliches and overly dramatic designs. Use some color but not to much. Make your typography bold but not ridiculous. Eschew all animation altogether. Too much visual effects will distract viewers’ attention. You could add a video in the middle of the presentation if you need to make the audience more engaged.

What will the right visuals do for your presentation?

Digital presentations are visual by definition, but there are still many ways to add value to them with smart pictures, graphs, etc. Which elements should you include in your slides to emphasize your story?

Here are the major things good visuals will do for you:

Make your content memorable

You need to say or type in a lot of words to say something that can be said with one picture. Everything that is visual will be grasped more easily with human mind and kept in memory for longer.

Researchers say that a picture with a short caption in bold letters is more likely to be stored in long-term memory and easily retrieved later. This means that people will actually remember what you were saying! Isn’t it a success?

Keep your audience focused

Sometimes it feels like we get bored from just seeing any bullet points on the screen, no matter the content. If you don’t want to kill your presentation from the first slides, start with a picture and make sure it has emotional meaning to your audience.

If you’re using stock photos to build up connection with the audience, make sure they do not look cheesy. Don’t add a stock photos unless you’ve modified them somehow or added text.

You can also add original photos of your team, product or even yourself to the slides. Original photos add a lot of personal meaning to your content, so they are really powerful.

Making sketches or illustrations yourself is also a nice way to make your presentation unique and memorable. You don’t need to be an artist to draw a cartoon: just sketch a recognizable form, let’s say a person, and add some text in a bubble. This may not look like a professional drawing, but it will still add creative flair to your presentation. There are also many websites and online marketplaces where you can buy professional artworks to use in your presentation.

Emphasize your story

Adding icons is a nice way to add structure to your presentation and bring viewers’ attention where you want it. There are amazing sets of icons you can buy and make your slides much prettier and more unique. Standard icons that come with software may fail to do the job because they are too generic to be noticed.

With GIFs it gets a little more risky. A GIF will create an instant emotional response with an audience, so adding one to your presentation may be very useful. If you want to communicate how you were feeling at a particular moment, add an animated picture. However, more than one or two GIFs in a presentation will overwhelm your audience and make their attention waver.

You can add even more character to your presentation with one meme of your own making. Don’t use downloaded memes, make ons that are connected to the content of your presentation. And most importantly, your humor should be relevant to your audience, or it will destroy the impression altogether.

Inspire action

While choosing visuals for your presentation, it’s useful to keep in mind your goals.

Do you want to inform people? Build connection? Spur action? Or do everything at the same time? As I’ve already said, pictures and photos impact us in a different way than text.

So, if you want to spur immediate action with your audience, you better tell them a dynamic story using powerful and emotional pictures. Explain all the complex ideas with sketches and graphics if you want people to relate to them and act upon them later.

Explain your data

Now we will talk a little about graphs and diagrams. Corporate and research presentations are usually full of data that needs to be presented in an understandable way. Having just numbers and tables on your slides is the worst thing you can do.

  • Use Bar graphs when you need to show relationships between independent variables.
  • With a line graph, you can show the dynamics of a certain variable in time.
  • Pie charts will help viewers see how a whole is made of different parts and how the sizes of the parts relate to each other.
  • Diagrams are outlines that help to trace how different parts of aspects of a projects overlap.

It’s not enough to choose the right type of graph, you also need to format it properly. Erase all the grid lines altogether or make them super subtle.

Center your chart around the main thing you will be talking about. Label the axes and add units to them if necessary. You need graphics that speak for themselves without any additional text.

There are some more tips for making your charts and graphs perfect:

  1. Don’t put them of bright or too colorful backgrounds and avoid gradients. The background of the graph, though, should be consistent with the background of the rest of the slide.
  2. Do away with all grids and borders.
  3. Avoid colors that are too bright and use the same color for all the bars in one graph. It is harder to compare data if the bars are multicolored. What you can do, however, is highlight just one bar with bright color if you need it to stand out.

How to use typography in a presentation

How you present text in a presentation is no less important than charts and pictures. Here are the most general tips you can use to make your presentation rock:

Be bold

You don’t want your audience to be squinting or seeing only half of the text. Always keep in mind that they will be at a certain distance from the projected screen and some of them may have weak eyesight.

24-point text is optimal for presentations, 36 and 44 are good for headlines. If you don’t use too many words on your slides (not more than 6) you can go big with font size. Making people struggle to read is the worst thing you can do with a presentation.

You can always play with the size of the text to emphasize the most important thing on your slide. If you want people to remember a word or an idea, make it big.

Chose the font wisely

A nice font for a presentation is not the most beautiful one but the most readable. The viewers’ attention shouldn’t be focused on the font itself, just on the content.

Most designers prefer Sans Serif fonts like Helvetica, Garamond, Futura or Arial because they are very readable in any size. For bold headlines you could use Rockwell. Classic Serifs like Times New Romans or Georgia have become a cliche, so don’t go for them. Also, they are far less legible.

Consistency is key

When you have chosen the fonts for the text and headlines for your master template, stick to this scheme. There should be no more than two font sizes on the same slide, and the size of your text should not differ across slides. It confuses the audience and looks sloppy.

Also, make sure you position the text consistently across all slides. For instance, if the heading changes its alignment from one slide to another, people may get irritated and distracted.

Pair the fonts

If you want to use different fonts for, say, headlines and text, you need to choose two that will go together well.

Usually, a font with a huge personality is paired with a more classic one. It’s a common practice to use Sans Serifs for text and Serifs for headline creating a nice contrast.

If you use two fonts that look similar on the same slide, it may look as a mistake.

Align with care

More about text alignment:

  • Right-to-left is classic for the Western world.
  • Left-to-right is used with certain languages and for decoration purposes. For instance, a logo is often aligned to the left.
  • Center the words that you want to emphasize. Do not use more than 6 words on a slide and try not to make them a justified text. In a justified text, the distance between the words is different and this makes the sentences harder to read.

How to use color in a presentation

When making color choices, think about the aims of your presentation.

What kind of impression do you want to make? What mood do you want to set for your audience?

By selecting the right colors you can make people feel more relaxed even though the content of your presentation may cause tension. Or if are afraid that your presentation is dull, you can keep viewers attentive and focused by adding color.

RedPassion, anger, speed, danger.
GreenNature development, growth, money.
PurpleRoyalty, magic, mystery, spirituality.
OrangeEnergy, fun, positivity, vigor
YellowFriendship, optimism, cheer, youth.
BlueSerenity, calmness, trust, stability.
PinkGentleness, care, nurturing, flirt.
BrownResourcefulness, seriousness, warmth, strength.
WhitePurity, spirituality, virtue, freshness
BlackChic, glamour, secrets, formality.
GreyHigh-tech, compromise, composure

There are several themes you can choose for your presentation to achieve different results:

MonochromaticUsing different shades of one colorMonochromatic designs are usually easy on the eyes and very balanced. It’s quite hard to make a terrible color combination with monochromatic colors, but quite easy to make a boring one. If you are new to design or need a one-fits-all solution, this is the perfect option.
AnalogousTwo colors are close to each other. Use different shades or hues.This combination is also rather safe nut it allows adding accents where needed. If you need people to pay attention but don’t want them to get too emotional, use analogous color combinations
ComplementaryTwo contrasting colors (opposite on the color wheel) with different shades and hues.Use this one if you want to get someone’s attention and don’t worry about having them overwhelmed. If you use many contrasting colors in your presentation, people will definitely have an emotional reaction. You can never be 100% sure whether they will like it or hate it.
TriadicUse colors that are at the same distance on the color wheel.This one is the best for making accents and guiding the eyes of your audience. Make sure you understand what each of the three colors does in your design: does it calm emotions down? Or maybe directs attention? Or serves as a background?

Here are some more tips for using color:

  • Be careful in your implementation of the color theme. Avoid gradients because they can make your text unreadable. Also, don’t use shadows that are too dark, blinding highlights, bevels and other dramatic design techniques. You don’t want to look unprofessional and make the audience cringe at the sight of your slides.
  • Don’t jump from darker shade of the color to a much lighter one without any options in between.
  • Try to dedicate 60 percent of a slide to a basic primary color, 30 – to the secondary one, and 10 – to the brightest one to make accents.

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