We know that badly designed slides can ruin a presentation. Not everyone is naturally creative though and if your talents lie elsewhere our 10 design ideas for PowerPoint below might save your next presentation.
10 x design ideas for PowerPoint
1. Design and build your own template
Whilst Microsoft provides a library of PowerPoint templates it’s a much better idea to create your own before you start building your slide set. This way you can tailor your slides to your brand – use your corporate colours and logo to keep everything consistent. Avoid the built-in templates if you want something that hasn’t been seen a hundred times before!
2. Don’t use too much text
Do not fill your slides with blocks of text or bullet point lists, even if you have a lot of information to share. State a key message in the main title placeholder. Then elaborate on this as you speak. If you add too much text the audience will be reading it for themselves and won’t be listening to what you are saying. Your slides are NOT your script. So go easy on how much you type.
Likewise, as mentioned above, text blocks or bulleted lists are visually painful. There are many ways we can display text that doesn’t involve a list. Check out these specific bullet alternatives to give you more design ideas for PowerPoint.
3. Use great visuals
To replace the blocks of text and bullet lists use imagery to illustrate your points. Make sure the graphics you use are relevant to the message and don’t over do it by using too many visuals on one slide. Photos of people can be highly distracting (according to studies) so go easy on showing faces. Stick to relevant imagery and keeping slides “light”.
4. Replace Excel data with charts
Tables of data can be hard to read and generally aren’t visually attractive. Convert as much data as you can into charts and infographics, and pick colours that complement your template design. Yes it takes more time. Yes it’s well worth it.
5. Choose your fonts wisely
Clear sans-serif fonts (such as Helvetica) are considered the easiest to read onscreen. But before you get carried away: you have to know the fonts will be on all the computers that view the presentation. If you’re sending it out: you’ll actually want to avoid Helvetica as it isn’t a default font on PCs (yet). Custom fonts certainly are preferable of course, but use sparingly, like just for headings. Don’t be tempted to use more than two fonts in a presentation. Two is enough.
Remember, if you’ve gone “non-standard” you’ll need to embed them, convert to image, or simply stick to standard fonts. Custom fonts that aren’t installed on other computers will default to Calibri or Arial (usually) and ruin your design when viewed on other devices!
6. Make sure the text is big enough to read
You might be presenting to a large audience so you need to make sure that the text is visible to everyone. Especially those at the back of the room. Text under 20 points is typically too small. A clear, bold font in size 38 to 44 point is good for headings, and 20 to 32 point is good for other text. (Point sizes do depend on the font used of course. Our rule of thumb is that 18 is the minimum for a projected slide).
7. Go easy on the animations and transitions
Don’t overdo animations and transitions as it can make an otherwise great presentation look a bit amateur. Pick a subtle transition and apply this to your template so it’s the same on all slides. If you want high end animation to knock some socks off – then get a professional outfit to take care of it. Naturally, you also need to be aware of cognitive load, so do use animation to control the flow of information you present at any one time to your audience.
8. Use the alignment tools
Aligning your graphics, text and charts makes the presentation look a lot more professional. PowerPoint has in built tools you can use to align the slide elements for you. Set up a QAT and this becomes much much faster (see Quick Access Toolbar for more guidance).
9. Use contrasting colours
For your message to stand out a high level of contrast between the background and text is vital. Either go for a light background with dark text, or a dark background with white text. If you have a patterned background try putting a block of colour behind the text to ensure it stands out. Remember that colours don’t always look the same on a big screen as they do on your laptop. If you can test where you’ll be presenting: then do it. Avoid light greens (and yellow obviously) on white backgrounds. They are often hard to see when projected. More guidance on colours and accessibility.
10. Less is not always more
Don’t worry about having too many slides. It’s better to have a lot of light slides instead cramming all too much information onto as few slides as possible. Stick to one main message per slide. This will not only make it easier for your audience to follow but will also give you more space to create effective, well designed slides.
Check out our portfolio slides if you need to see some design ideas for PowerPoint in action.