We’re four weeks into our Holiday Giveaways with tips on everything from social media to events. Today we’re going to talk about designing presentations. A well-designed set of slides is the supporting actor to your leading role as presenter. They should reinforce your message without distracting your audience and stealing the spotlight. Here are some best practices to help make your next presentation deck look polished and professional:
- Plan Ahead: When you give a presentation, you are telling a story to your audience. To make sure that story is engaging and informative, it’s worth spending some time up front planning out the story you want to tell. This planning stage could take the form of a written narrative, a bulleted outline, or even just adding notes to blank slides in PowerPoint itself. No matter what approach you choose, taking the time to figure out the flow of your content up front will help keep your story on track as you build out your presentation.
- You can find even more templates online – check out this article for a few options.
Pick a Template: Presentation templates – PowerPoint, Keynote, Prezi etc – are an easy way to maintain visual consistency throughout your presentations. Whether it’s the alignment of titles, the positioning of images, or the placement of your company logo, inconsistency in these elements from one slide to the next can be a distraction for the viewer. Using a template helps avoid this issue and keeps focus on the content itself. A template can also help reinforce your brand, by keeping colors and fonts consistent with the ones you use on your website and other collateral. If your company doesn’t already have a template you can use, browse through the ones that come installed with the software you are using, or keep reading to download our free PowerPoint template at the end of this blog post.
- Add Text: Adding text to your slides is a balancing act. You want there to be just enough to reinforce your message, but not so much that your audience is more focused on reading than listening. This is the area where many slide decks move from supporting actor to leading role, stealing the audience’s attention from what the presenter is saying. Keep this in mind as you are designing your deck, and try to stick to high-level headlines and short phrases, avoiding long sentences and verbose paragraphs whenever possible. Take the time to look at your slides from an audience perspective, to see where you can edit your text without sacrificing your key points.
- Select Images: “A photo is worth a thousand words” – it’s cliché, but true. Great images can bring your presentation to life, and create a vibrant backdrop to help tell your story. Particularly for slides with less text, like titles, transitions, and dividers, try using full-slide images behind your text to depict the ideas you are trying to convey. There are tons of great image resources out there to fit every budget, from free photography sites like Unsplash and Pexels, to paid stock websites like iStockphoto and Getty Images. And it’s not just photos. Icons and illustrations can be a great option to add visual emphasis to the content on your slides, or help depict a relationship between things and ideas in a more visual way. You can also add in video and motion graphics to help bring your ideas to life.
- Make it Move: It can be tempting to run wild with different slide transitions, or add animations to every piece of content in your deck, but less really is more when it comes to adding movement to your presentation. At DoubleShot, we always try to think thoughtfully about how the transitions and animations we bring into presentations can add value to the message we’re trying to get across. For example, we might use a fly-in animation to give emphasis to an arrow shape, or a transition to support a closer look at an element from the previous slide. If adding animation doesn’t strengthen your message – or even worse, dilutes it – then take it away. We generally find that if we add any movement at all, it’s usually the subtler options like the Fade transition that don’t distract from the presentation itself.
- To embed fonts in PowerPoint on a PC, select “Save Option” from the Tools menu when you are saving your presentation, then check the box next to “Embed fonts in this file.”
Format Your Files: How you save your presentation file depends largely on how and where it will be viewed and shared. If you are going to be sharing the PowerPoint file itself, or presenting off a computer that isn’t your own, it’s a good idea to embed your fonts to ensure consistency from one screen to the next. Unfortunately, this can only be done in the PC version of PowerPoint, so Mac Powerpoint users might want to consider sharing their file as a PDF instead. Saving as a PDF has the added benefit of ensuring that no one can make changes to the file, but this format doesn’t support animation, so it’s not the best approach if you will be presenting the file. If you are sharing your file by email, you can reduce your file size in PowerPoint using the “Compress Pictures” option. Just select how the presentation will be used from the Picture Quality dropdown – on screen, print, HD presentation – and choose OK. It’s worth noting that this isn’t reversible, so although your presentation might be for screen viewing only now, if you think you might present it on a large projection screen at some point in the future, it’s a good idea to Save As a new version of the file after compressing your images.
And now what we’ve all been waiting for…a free download! To help with step #2, we created a PowerPoint template you can download and use to your hearts content. After downloading, open the template in PowerPoint and either edit directly, or go to File > Save As Template… to save for future use.
Our giveaway has ended! To get more information, including how to polish your next presentation, contact us here.
Stay tune next week for our last two giveaways, but in the meantime, cast your vote to help us choose where to give back this holiday season!