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.
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—or a bubble map if you're a visual thinker. 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.
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.
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 grey do not count as colours. You don’t necessarily need to use too many colours. The objective is to use colours 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.
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 breathings room.
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.
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.
We discussed this earlier with fonts, colours 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.