Presentations are all about communication and visual communication is one of the major ways we receive that information. In the culinary world there’s a saying “We eat with our eyes first”. And it’s the same with presentations. Your PowerPoint slides need to capture the viewers’ attention with clean consistent slides that engage them visually so they stay attentive until they have received your message and call to action.
In this article I’m going to show you a pretty typical PowerPoint slide and with a few simple changes how to make it into something more memorable.
If while looking at the slide on the left and reading my notes, you spot some of your own mistakes; then please be reassured that there is not a single mistake I will mention here that I have not, at some time, made myself. Also, remember that I have no formal graphic design training either and that this post represents my opinions and what I have studied over the last 6 years.
So, let’s take a look at this slide as it has a number of errors:
- Take a look at the sidebar. You’ll see that it and the slide title are vying for attention. It’s hard to know where to look first. It’s important to have one main focal point. Use a large photo or full bleed image.
- And speaking of that sidebar, it is using a good 20% of your screen space. That’s huge acreage which you can’t use for anything else. In earlier versions of PowerPoint, many of the templates have the title at the top and they often use up even more area. Don’t use these for video. Start with the blank PowerPoint layout.
- Your logo is also using unnecessary space. And what is that logo doing there on every slide? Do you feel that the viewers really need a constant reminder of which company is presenting to them? A logo belongs only on your welcome slide or in an animated intro.
- Typographically, there’s a lot going on for a single slide, including text oriented at different angles. As a general rule, no more than two fonts should be used per slide and be sure they are consistent between slides. Any orientation other than horizontal, left to right should be used very sparingly. Tip: If you need to know which fonts ‘go’ together, do a web search for ‘font families’.
- When using bullet points, it’s best to have them animate in one by one, otherwise consider putting each item on its own slide. Use bullet points sparingly! Slide after slide of them are tiring and result in the phenomenon known as ‘Death by PowerPoint’ in which the audience’s attention is gone after just a few slides.
What I would do with this slide (image on the right) is to create a full bleed image background with just the one message at the top in a large font. If you want, you can take each bullet point and make it into its own slide with its own image or simply speak the bullets during your presentation and then include them in the handout in the notes field. That way the audience can use the handout of the presentation slides as a reference when they get back to their jobs.
In closing, let me remind you that over the years I have made all of the mistakes I have pointed out above, some of them many times. But I like to think of myself now as a reformed PowerPoint abuser and I hope my confession can show others that it is definitely a learning process.