presentation design

Whether online or in person, audience attention spans are short. A streamlined design can keep them focused on your topic.

1. Simplify your content.

Your top priority is to streamline and simplify your deck’s content. Mercilessly slash your source document and only include the highlights on your slides. Presentations are meant to be condensed versions of content, not the whole kitchen sink.

Your slides should not mimic what you plan to say during the presentation. Slides are only reminders of the major points, not the excruciating details. To provide more information, you will expound on those highlights while speaking. Practice.

2. Streamline your design.

Just as content should be simplified, so should the design:
  • Your audience should be able to easily digest your content.
  • Clear any clutter; white space is your friend.
  • Do not use detailed illustrations or outdated clip art (see tip #4).
  • Make charts and graphs as minimal as possible.
  • Develop a palette of two to three colors to use throughout.

3. Consistency is key.

Branding and design are all about consistency. Make use of your app’s provided templates, which do much of the design work for you. For a custom-designed deck, call on a pro designer who can provide a unique ‘wow’ factor.
  • Most slide backgrounds should be the same.
  • Stick with the same font for the entire presentation.
  • Font sizes should be similar throughout.

4. Beware of Microsoft clip art.

Microsoft clip art is notorious for being outdated and overly detailed, giving your presentation an unprofessional look. Plus, clip art can unintentionally make your deck look humorous. Go for professional respect instead, and choose simple graphic art or custom illustrations.

5. Go with the flow.

Make sure your slides flow smoothly from one to the other, without jarring juxtapostions.
  • Don’t hesitate to rearrange your original source content. A presentation is not a reading document.
  • Use section title slides to prepare your audience for new topics.