Design Tips From A Presentation Designer

Published on
May 18, 2016
Here’s a story we often hear: You are extremely busy working on last minute projects when, all of a sudden, your boss tells you to make a presentation for him within the next few hours.

This has happened all the time, and people panic at the mere thought of coming up with a deck of PowerPoint slides that looks professional in such a short notice. Next time this happens to you, don't worry as we are going to share some useful tips on designing your presentation like a professional.

1. Gather your content

Before you get started on designing your presentation, it is important to get the content ready. Make a list of items you plan to include in your presentation. This will give you a clear picture as to which tools to use to present your ideas in an effective manner. For example, if you plan to present an abundant amount of data, you might consider creating some diagrams and charts so that your slides look neat and are easy to follow.

By getting organizing your content, you have the framework for your presentation, which will be helpful in creating the ‘Agenda’. The ‘Agenda’ will give a clear picture to your audience on how the presentation will flow and will give you immense confidence. When coming up with the presentation ‘Agenda’, keep it short and simple, and avoid bullet points as much as possible.

2. Choose the right font

Moving on to designing your presentation, first and foremost, you should choose the right font for your presentation. To go about choosing the right font for your deck of slides, you should analyze the objective of your presentation. If the content of the presentation is on the serious side, you should use fonts like Arial and Times New Roman that are associated with severity and seriousness. On the other hand, if your presentation is more cheery, you can go for fonts like Cambria which will lighten the atmosphere.

Whichever way you choose to go, always remember that you should not use more than two different fonts throughout your presentation. For example, you can choose to have one font for headings and another font for the body for distinction. Do not experiment with too many fonts in your presentation as this can cause an eye sore for your audience.

3. Limit the use of colors

Always keep in mind that your presentation is not a coloring book. You need to maintain professionalism by sticking to a maximum of four colors throughout your presentation. You can choose to use a light color for the background of your slides, a dark color for the headings, and another dark color for the text in the body. Remember that black, white and gray do not count as colors. You don’t necessarily need to use too many colors. The objective is to use colors that match your identity or the topic you are presenting on.

By limiting the usage of colors, you maintain consistency throughout your presentation and make it easier for the audience to follow your slides.

4. Align the corporate logo and images correctly

While designing a presentation, people place so much emphasis on the content that they completely forget about the alignment of the corporate logo and the images. When aligning the logo and the images, always remember to be consistent in their positioning. For example, if you choose to place the corporate logo on the bottom right hand corner of a slide, continue with the same positioning on all other slide, unless you are showcasing full screen images or videos.

Images should be aligned properly with the text. There should be no overlapping between the text and the images. On every slide, ensure that the image and text are clearly separated. For example, if the text is on the left hand side of a slide, position the image on the right hand side. This way, your slide will not look cluttered and messy. The art of creating balanced margins between elements is difficult to acquire but a rule of thumb is to make sure all the elements of the slide have breathing room.

5. Scale the images to an appropriate size

On top of aligning the image with the text, it is important to scale the images to an appropriate size. Don’t make the images too big or too small. They should be visible and not blurry to the audience. Sometimes, when you stretch or shrink a picture, it loses clarity. Avoid doing this as it will only deteriorate the quality of your slides. For your presentation to look professional, ensure that images are clear at all times. An easy way to follow this rule is to use high quality images and to ensure that the aspect ratio is locked.

6. Add graphs and charts to reduce clutter

Often, people are required to present findings and data so they decide to put together a long list of numbers to showcase at the audience. This indeed is overwhelming not just to the audience but to the presenter too. Instead of throwing data on the PowerPoint slides, try to organize them into charts and graphs so that it looks neat and presentable. It should also give you more insight to this data. It is easier to understand data on charts than when they are in tabular form. Graphs and charts also reduce clutter on the slides, making the presentation more professional.

7. Be consistent at all times

We discussed this earlier with fonts, colors and object alignment, you need to be consistent throughout your presentation, it’s necessary to achieve the professional look. The background for the slides needs to be the same throughout the presentation too, unless you can justify changing it (for different topics). Using master slides that will store information on the background color and the fonts for all the remaining slides is the easiest way to achieve consistency.

Who said designing PowerPoint slides like a pro had to be a herculean task? Just follow the above-mentioned steps and you are on your way to becoming a professional presentation designer. All the tools that you need to use are there, in the PowerPoint application and you don’t even have to rely on any third-party application to achieve a professional-looking presentation. So, next time your boss urges you to create a presentation, you know exactly what to do.

Frequently Asked Questions

Working with Stinson: The Presentation Agency

What exactly do presentation agencies do?

We provide all the help you may need to design presentations that achieve your goals. This can include content consulting, presentation slide design, custom icons and illustrations, and presentation handouts—ultimately, our team of PowerPoint designers and consultants develop a comprehensive presentation solution that meets your specific needs.

Why do companies work with presentation agencies?

Consider how much time you (or your team) spend making PowerPoint presentations for meetings. Think about the back and forth over which fonts, colors, icons, and images to use. Is it okay to use bullet points? Did you use the right brand colors? Does the slide look too crowded and busy? Or does it look too plain? How do you create the look and feel that you're picturing? After the design is done, do you have enough time to practice presenting?

As presentation experts, it is our second nature to understand your goals and work with you to create the professional PowerPoint deck that you envisioned. You can learn more about our 3-phase process here.

By leaving the presentation design to an agency like Stinson, you save yourself the time and worry over the look, feel, and progression of your presentation—we make your PowerPoint presentation-ready so that you can focus on the presentation delivery.

Which presentation design service will I need?

As a presentation company, we offer every service you may need to develop your you may need to develop your PowerPoint—however, it's tough to say exactly which services of ours would benefit you the most without having chatted about your company, industry, and presentation uses.

We've generalized the scenarios that we regularly see and help our clients with. If your situation is similar to any of the below, then rest assured that our presentation experts have proven success in developing solutions.

  • You have an upcoming presentation with investors or clients. You feel your slide deck looks outdated or dull, and you don't know how to help it. You're also not sure if the content in your presentation conveys your value. View our case study where our presentation development and content consulting services helped our client achieve their investor funding goals.
  • Your company has regular internal department presentations. Everyone works on their respective slides, which are then combined into one presentation deck. The resulting PowerPoint does not have a cohesive look and somehow, there are five new shades of your corporate colors. We can help you identify your common slide layouts and design easy-to-use custom PowerPoint templates so your team members can create seamless, unified slides.
  • Your company has a great PowerPoint template that strongly reflects your branding, but your team tends to include too much text and irrelevant images on their slides. During the presentation, key messages are lost. We offer presentation training for exactly this—we'll train your team to create better slides more efficiently.

Expectations when working with us

How does partnering with a PowerPoint designer work?

Once you contact us, we'll meet with you and ask for as much context as possible regarding the project: what materials you already have, who is presenting, who is the audience, and so on—this is our Discover phase. From there, we move onto Develop and Design where we start defining the narrative and visual characteristics of your new presentation. For more details, please read our process.

How long do projects take?

Our standard turnaround for presentation development is 2–4 weeks; for custom presentation templates, our typical turnaround is 3–6 weeks. We know this is a wide range, but due to the collaborative nature of our presentation design process (i.e. asking for and incorporating your feedback), our turnaround time also relies on your responsiveness and availability. We do offer a rush service if your timelines are short.

How much does a presentation design cost?

We price on a project-by-project basis, involving a number of key factors outlined in our pricing model. However, we do require a minimum project cost of $1,500.

We often see companies that do not have budget allocations for presentation design and are hesitant to make the initial investment. We understand—at first, it can be difficult to see the value and difference a well-designed, practical presentation can make. For our clients that started in this situation, we worked on a smaller pilot test project; when they saw the positive ROI of the presentation, they were able to secure larger budgets and found more presentations that needed our help.

What are the final files that I will receive?

All of our final PowerPoint (or other presentation software) deliverables are shared with you in its native, editable file format. We are also able to provide a PDF or video version of your presentation if you would like.

Any presentation collateral we design for your project is shared as a ready-to-print PDF, unless if you specify a different preference.

Have you worked with other clients in my industry? Can you share related samples?

Our list of clients spans a wide range of industries, some of which we hadn't known of prior to the client's project. Since our approach involves familiarizing ourselves with the client's business and industry, we've become a team of jacks-of-all-trades for industry knowledge.

We're able to share blinded, industry-specific samples of presentations that our clients have consented to. Contact us if you're interested!


Aside from PowerPoint, do you work in Google Slides? Keynote? Prezi?

Yes! While we prefer designing PowerPoint presentations due to its robust features that let us create advanced designs, we've created custom presentation designs in Google Slides and Keynote at our clients' request.

We generally do not design presentations in Prezi since it does not support the level of design customization that we need for our clients. Instead, we use PowerPoint to create the same animations and layouts that are characteristic of Prezi presentations—you can view examples in our portfolio.

Will we run into issues if we use Mac and/or Windows PC?

There are some differences in functionality between PowerPoint for Mac and PowerPoint for Windows—but these are not for your concern! We use both Mac and Windows computers at Stinson, so we're able to ensure cross-device compatibility with every PowerPoint presentation we design. During our initial call with you, we'll ask you for these tech specs so that we know to bear them in mind when working on your project.

Does it matter which version of PowerPoint we use?

Yes; the latest versions of PowerPoint have new functions and features that earlier versions of PowerPoint cannot load. We'll take note of your tech setup to ensure that our presentations for you run as intended.

Designing with branding

How are you able to design with our company's brand?

If you have any brand guidelines, we ask you to provide them early on in the process so that we can familiarize ourselves not only with your logos, colors, and fonts, but the overarching brand tone. Our collaborative process includes rounds of revision for you to provide your feedback on the presentation design.

Are you able to design within our very strict corporate brand guidelines?

Absolutely! Many of our clients are companies with well-established brand identities. We do our due diligence to maintain the integrity of their branding when designing their presentations and collateral.

Strict brand guidelines do not necessarily restrict the possibility of creating a sophisticated PowerPoint; our presentation designers thoughtfully use photos, animations, and other visuals to build the story.

We don't have concrete branding yet or we're in the process of updating our brand. Can you work without defined brand elements?

Yes! When we work with clients who are still ironing out the details of their branding, we ask them to provide us any materials they have already and to share their design inspirations. From there, we lay out moodboards of different tones and styles to see which resonates the most with what our client has in mind.


We have highly sensitive information. Will my data remain confidential?

Absolutely—we respect the proprietary nature of businesses, and enforce a strict confidentiality policy company-wide. From the first point of contact with you, we assume a non-disclosure agreement (NDA); we are happy to sign your company's NDA as well.

Where do you store my files and data?

All of our files are stored securely in an industry-leading content server. The server exceeds regulatory standards and encrypts each file using AES 256-bit encryption in diverse locations.

Additionally, the Stinson team works completely in-house, so your files will not cross borders.

How secure is my data?

We take data security seriously. We enforce numerous internal policies and procedures to ensure that Stinson continues to meet compliance and security standards for data protection, including multi-factor authentication for all company accounts and access restrictions.

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