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8 tips to make the best powerpoint presentations.

Want to make your PowerPoint presentations really shine? Here's how to impress and engage your audience.

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Table of contents, start with a goal, less is more, consider your typeface, make bullet points count, limit the use of transitions, skip text where possible, think in color, take a look from the top down, bonus: start with templates.

Slideshows are an intuitive way to share complex ideas with an audience, although they're dull and frustrating when poorly executed. Here are some tips to make your Microsoft PowerPoint presentations sing while avoiding common pitfalls.

define a goal

It all starts with identifying what we're trying to achieve with the presentation. Is it informative, a showcase of data in an easy-to-understand medium? Or is it more of a pitch, something meant to persuade and convince an audience and lead them to a particular outcome?

It's here where the majority of these presentations go wrong with the inability to identify the talking points that best support our goal. Always start with a goal in mind: to entertain, to inform, or to share data in a way that's easy to understand. Use facts, figures, and images to support your conclusion while keeping structure in mind (Where are we now and where are we going?).

I've found that it's helpful to start with the ending. Once I know how to end a presentation, I know how best to get to that point. I start by identifying the takeaway---that one nugget that I want to implant before thanking everyone for their time---and I work in reverse to figure out how best to get there.

Your mileage, of course, may vary. But it's always going to be a good idea to put in the time in the beginning stages so that you aren't reworking large portions of the presentation later. And that starts with a defined goal.

avoid walls of text

A slideshow isn't supposed to include everything. It's an introduction to a topic, one that we can elaborate on with speech. Anything unnecessary is a distraction. It makes the presentation less visually appealing and less interesting, and it makes you look bad as a presenter.

This goes for text as well as images. There's nothing worse, in fact, than a series of slides where the presenter just reads them as they appear. Your audience is capable of reading, and chances are they'll be done with the slide, and browsing Reddit, long before you finish. Avoid putting the literal text on the screen, and your audience will thank you.

Related: How to Burn Your PowerPoint to DVD

use better fonts

Right off the bat, we're just going to come out and say that Papyrus and Comic Sans should be banned from all PowerPoint presentations, permanently. Beyond that, it's worth considering the typeface you're using and what it's saying about you, the presenter, and the presentation itself.

Consider choosing readability over aesthetics, and avoid fancy fonts that could prove to be more of a distraction than anything else. A good presentation needs two fonts: a serif and sans-serif. Use one for the headlines and one for body text, lists, and the like. Keep it simple. Veranda, Helvetica, Arial, and even Times New Roman are safe choices. Stick with the classics and it's hard to botch this one too badly.

use fewer bullets

There reaches a point where bullet points become less of a visual aid and more of a visual examination.

Bullet points should support the speaker, not overwhelm his audience. The best slides have little or no text at all, in fact. As a presenter, it's our job to talk through complex issues, but that doesn't mean that we need to highlight every talking point.

Instead, think about how you can break up large lists into three or four bullet points. Carefully consider whether you need to use more bullet points, or if you can combine multiple topics into a single point instead. And if you can't, remember that there's no one limiting the number of slides you can have in a presentation. It's always possible to break a list of 12 points down into three pages of four points each.

avoid transitions

Animation, when used correctly, is a good idea. It breaks up slow-moving parts of a presentation and adds action to elements that require it. But it should be used judiciously.

Adding a transition that wipes left to right between every slide or that animates each bullet point in a list, for example, starts to grow taxing on those forced to endure the presentation. Viewers get bored quickly, and animations that are meant to highlight specific elements quickly become taxing.

That's not to say that you can't use animations and transitions, just that you need to pick your spots. Aim for no more than a handful of these transitions for each presentation. And use them in spots where they'll add to the demonstration, not detract from it.

use visuals

Sometimes images tell a better story than text can. And as a presenter, your goal is to describe points in detail without making users do a lot of reading. In these cases, a well-designed visual, like a chart, might better convey the information you're trying to share.

The right image adds visual appeal and serves to break up longer, text-heavy sections of the presentation---but only if you're using the right images. A single high-quality image can make all the difference between a success and a dud when you're driving a specific point home.

When considering text, don't think solely in terms of bullet points and paragraphs. Tables, for example, are often unnecessary. Ask yourself whether you could present the same data in a bar or line chart instead.

find a color palette

Color is interesting. It evokes certain feelings and adds visual appeal to your presentation as a whole. Studies show that color also improves interest, comprehension, and retention. It should be a careful consideration, not an afterthought.

You don't have to be a graphic designer to use color well in a presentation. What I do is look for palettes I like, and then find ways to use them in the presentation. There are a number of tools for this, like Adobe Color , Coolors , and ColorHunt , just to name a few. After finding a palette you enjoy, consider how it works with the presentation you're about to give. Pastels, for example, evoke feelings of freedom and light, so they probably aren't the best choice when you're presenting quarterly earnings that missed the mark.

It's also worth mentioning that you don't need to use every color in the palette. Often, you can get by with just two or three, though you should really think through how they all work together and how readable they'll be when layered. A simple rule of thumb here is that contrast is your friend. Dark colors work well on light backgrounds, and light colors work best on dark backgrounds.

change views

Spend some time in the Slide Sorter before you finish your presentation. By clicking the four squares at the bottom left of the presentation, you can take a look at multiple slides at once and consider how each works together. Alternatively, you can click "View" on the ribbon and select "Slide Sorter."

Are you presenting too much text at once? Move an image in. Could a series of slides benefit from a chart or summary before you move on to another point?

It's here that we have the opportunity to view the presentation from beyond the single-slide viewpoint and think in terms of how each slide fits, or if it fits at all. From this view, you can rearrange slides, add additional ones, or delete them entirely if you find that they don't advance the presentation.

The difference between a good presentation and a bad one is really all about preparation and execution. Those that respect the process and plan carefully---not only the presentation as a whole, but each slide within it---are the ones who will succeed.

This brings me to my last (half) point: When in doubt, just buy a template and use it. You can find these all over the web, though Creative Market and GraphicRiver are probably the two most popular marketplaces for this kind of thing. Not all of us are blessed with the skills needed to design and deliver an effective presentation. And while a pre-made PowerPoint template isn't going to make you a better presenter, it will ease the anxiety of creating a visually appealing slide deck.

17 PowerPoint Presentation Tips to Make More Creative Slideshows [+ Templates]

Jamie Cartwright

Published: August 16, 2023

Creating a great PowerPoint presentation is a skill that any professional can benefit from. The problem? It’s really easy to get it wrong. From poor color choices to confusing slides, a bad PowerPoint slideshow can distract from the fantastic content you’re sharing with stakeholders on your team.

powerpoint tricks

That’s why it’s so important to learn how to create a PowerPoint presentation from the ground up, starting with your slides. Even if you’re familiar with PowerPoint, a refresher will help you make a more attractive, professional slideshow. Let’s get started.

How to Make a PowerPoint Presentation

  • Presentation Tips

PowerPoint Design

I like to think of Microsoft PowerPoint as a test of basic professional skills. To create a passing presentation, I need to demonstrate design skills, technical literacy, and a sense of personal style.

If the presentation has a problem (like an unintended font, a broken link, or unreadable text), then I’ve probably failed the test. Even if my spoken presentation is well rehearsed, a bad visual experience can ruin it for the audience.

Expertise means nothing without a good PowerPoint presentation to back it up. For starters, grab your collection of free PowerPoint templates below.

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

10 Free PowerPoint Templates

Download ten free PowerPoint templates for a better presentation.

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No matter your topic, successful PowerPoints depend on three main factors: your command of PowerPoint's design tools, your attention to presentation processes, and your devotion to consistent style. Here are some simple tips to help you start mastering each of those factors, and don't forget to check out the additional resources at the bottom of this post.

A presentation is made up of multiple slides, let's delve deeper into PowerPoint's capabilities.

Getting Started

1. open powerpoint and click ‘new.’.

If a page with templates doesn‘t automatically open, go to the top left pane of your screen and click New. If you’ve already created a presentation, select Open then double-click the icon to open the existing file.

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

powerpoint presentation: types of fonts

That said, you can still use fun and eccentric fonts — in moderation. Offsetting a fun font or large letters with something more professional can create an engaging presentation.

Above all, be sure you're consistent so your presentation looks the same throughout each slide. That way, your audience doesn't become distracted by too many disparate fonts. Check out this example from HubSpot’s company profile templates:

Interested in this presentation template? Download it for free here.

5. Make sure all of your objects are properly aligned.

Having properly aligned objects on your slide is the key to making it look polished and professional. You can manually try to line up your images ... but we all know how that typically works out. You're trying to make sure all of your objects hang out in the middle of your slide, but when you drag them there, it still doesn't look quite right. Get rid of your guessing game and let PowerPoint work its magic with this trick.

Here’s how to align multiple objects:

  • Select all objects by holding down Shift and clicking on all of them.
  • Select Arrange in the top options bar, then choose Align or Distribute .
  • Choose the type of alignment you'd like.

Here’s how to align objects to the slide:

  • Select Align to Slide .
  • Select Arrange in the top options bar again, then choose Align or Distribute .

6. Use "Format Object" to better control your objects' designs.

Format menus allow you to do fine adjustments that otherwise seem impossible. To do this, right-click on an object and select the Format Object option. Here, you can fine-tune shadows, adjust shape measurements, create reflections, and much more. The menu that will pop up looks like this:

powerpoint presentation: format object pane

Although the main options can be found on PowerPoint’s format toolbars, look for complete control in the format window menu. Other examples of options available include:

  • Adjusting text inside a shape.
  • Creating a natural perspective shadow behind an object.
  • Recoloring photos manually and with automatic options.

7. Take advantage of PowerPoint's shapes.

Many users don’t realize how flexible PowerPoint’s shape tools have become. In combination with the expanded format options released by Microsoft, the potential for good design with shapes is readily available. PowerPoint provides the user with a bunch of great shape options beyond the traditional rectangle, oval, and rounded rectangle patterns.

Today’s shapes include a highly functional Smart Shapes function, which enables you to create diagrams and flow charts in no time. These tools are especially valuable when you consider that PowerPoint is a visual medium. Paragraphing and bullet lists are boring — you can use shapes to help express your message more clearly.

8. Create custom shapes.

When you create a shape, right click and press Edit Points . By editing points, you can create custom shapes that fit your specific need. For instance, you can reshape arrows to fit the dimensions you like.

Another option is to combine two shapes together. To do so, select the two shapes you’d like to work with, then click Shape Format in the top ribbon. Tap Merge Shapes .

You’ll see a variety of options.

  • Combine creates a custom shape that has overlapping portions of the two previous shapes cut out.
  • Union makes one completely merged shape.
  • Intersect builds a shape of only the overlapping sections of the two previous shapes.
  • Subtract cuts out the overlapping portion of one shape from the other.
  • Fragment will split your shape into different parts depending on where they overlap.

By using these tools rather than trying to edit points precisely, you can create accurately measured custom shapes.

9. Crop images into custom shapes.

Besides creating custom shapes in your presentation, you can also use PowerPoint to crop existing images into new shapes. Here's how you do that:

  • Click on the image and select Picture Format in the options bar.
  • Choose Crop , then Crop to Shape , and then choose your desired shape. Ta-da! Custom-shaped photos.

10. Present websites within PowerPoint.

Tradition says that if you want to show a website in a PowerPoint, you should just create a link to the page and prompt a browser to open. For PC users, there’s a better option.

Third party software that integrates fully into PowerPoint’s developer tab can be used to embed a website directly into your PowerPoint using a normal HTML iframe. One of the best tools is LiveWeb , a third-party software that you can install on your PowerPoint program.

By using LiveWeb, you don’t have to interrupt your PowerPoint, and your presentation will remain fluid and natural. Whether you embed a whole webpage or just a YouTube video, this can be a high-quality third party improvement. To install the add-on, simple head to the LiveWeb website and follow the instructions.

Unfortunately, Mac users don’t have a similar option. A good second choice is to take screenshots of the website, link in through a browser, or embed media (such as a YouTube video) by downloading it directly to your computer.

11. Try Using GIFs.

GIFs are looped animated images used to communicate a mood, idea, information, and much more. Users add GIFs to PowerPoints to be funny or quickly demo a process. It's easy to add GIFs to your slides. To do so, simply follow these steps:

  • Download and save the GIF you want.
  • Go to the slide you want the GIF on.
  • Go to the Home tab, and click either Insert or Picture .
  • From the Picture drop-down menu, choose Picture from File .
  • Navigate to where you saved your GIF and select it. Then, choose Insert .
  • It will play automatically the moment you insert it.

PowerPoint Process

12. keep it simple..

PowerPoint is an excellent tool to support your presentation with visual information, graphics, and supplemental points. This means that your PowerPoint should not be your entire presentation. Your slides — no matter how creative and beautiful — shouldn't be the star of the show. Keep your text and images clear and concise, using them only to supplement your message and authority.

If your slides have dense and cluttered information, it will both distract your audience and make it much more likely that you will lose their attention. Nothing in your slides should be superfluous! Keep your presentation persuasive by keeping it clean. There are a few ways to do this:

  • Limit bullet points and text.
  • Avoid paragraphs and long quotes.
  • Maintain "white space" or "negative space".
  • Keep percentages, graphs, and data super basic.

13. Embed your font files.

One constant problem presenters have with PowerPoint is that fonts seem to change when presenters move from one computer to another. In reality, the fonts are not changing — the presentation computer just doesn’t have the same font files installed . If you’re using a PC and presenting on a PC, then there is a smooth workaround for this issue.

Here’s the trick: When you save your PowerPoint file (only on a PC), you should click File , then Options, then open up the Save tab. Then, select the Embed fonts in the file check box under Preserve fidelity when sharing this presentation . Now, your presentation will keep the font file and your fonts will not change when you move computers.

The macOS PowerPoint version has a similar function. To embed your fonts on a Mac, do the following:

  • Open up your presentation.
  • On the top bar, click PowerPoint , then click Preferences .
  • Under Output and Sharing , click Save .
  • Under Font Embedding , click Embed fonts in the file.

14. Save your slides as a PDF file for backup purposes.

If you’re still scared of your presentation showing up differently when it’s time to present, you should create a PDF version just in case. This is a good option if you’ll be presenting on a different computer. If you also run into an issue where the presenting computer doesn’t have PowerPoint installed, you can also use the system viewer to open up the PDF. No laptop will ever give you trouble with this file type.

The only caveat is that your GIFs, animations, and transitions won’t transfer over. But since the PDF will only work as a backup, not as your primary copy, this should be okay.

To save your presentation as a PDF file, take the following steps:

  • Go to File , then click Save as …
  • In the pop-up window, click File Format.
  • A drop-down menu will appear. Select PDF .
  • Click Export .

You can also go to File , then Export , then select PDF from the file format menu.

15. Embed multimedia.

PowerPoint allows you to either link to video/audio files externally or to embed the media directly in your presentation. You should embed these files if you can, but if you use a Mac, you cannot actually embed the video (see note below). For PCs, two great reasons for embedding are:

  • Embedding allows you to play media directly in your presentation. It will look much more professional than switching between windows.
  • Embedding also means that the file stays within the PowerPoint presentation, so it should play normally without extra work (except on a Mac).

Note: macOS users of PowerPoint should be extra careful about using multimedia files.

If you use PowerPoint for Mac, then you will always need to bring the video and/or audio file with you in the same folder as the PowerPoint presentation. It’s best to only insert video or audio files once the presentation and the containing folder have been saved on a portable drive in their permanent folder. Also, if the presentation will be played on a Windows computer, then Mac users need to make sure their multimedia files are in WMV format. This tip gets a bit complicated, so if you want to use PowerPoint effectively, consider using the same operating system for designing and presenting, no matter what.

16. Bring your own hardware.

Between operating systems, PowerPoint is still a bit jumpy. Even between differing PPT versions, things can change. One way to fix these problems is to make sure that you have the right hardware — so just bring along your own laptop when you're presenting.

If you’re super concerned about the different systems you might have to use, then upload your PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides as a backup option. Google Slides is a cloud-based presentation software that will show up the same way on all operating systems. The only thing you need is an internet connection and a browser.

To import your PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides, take the following steps:

  • Navigate to slides.google.com . Make sure you’re signed in to a Google account, preferably your own.
  • Under Start a new presentation , click the empty box with a plus sign. This will open up a blank presentation.
  • Go to File , then Import slides .
  • A dialog box will come up. Tap Upload , then click Select a file from your device .
  • Select your presentation and click Open .
  • Select the slides you’d like to import. If you want to import all of them, click All in the upper right-hand corner of the dialog box.
  • Click Import slides.

powerpoint presentation: importing slides into google slides

When I tested this out, Google Slides imported everything perfectly, including a shape whose points I had manipulated. This is a good backup option to have if you’ll be presenting across different operating systems.

17. Use Presenter View.

In most presentation situations, there will be both a presenter’s screen and the main projected display for your presentation. PowerPoint has a great tool called Presenter View, which can be found in the Slide Show tab of PowerPoint. Included in the Presenter View is an area for notes, a timer/clock, and a presentation display.

powerpoint presentation: using presenter view

For many presenters, this tool can help unify their spoken presentation and their visual aid. You never want to make the PowerPoint seem like a stack of notes that you’re reading off of. Use the Presenter View option to help create a more natural presentation.

Pro Tip: At the start of the presentation, you should also hit CTRL + H to make the cursor disappear. Hitting the "A" key will bring it back if you need it!

Your Next Great PowerPoint Presentation Starts Here

With style, design, and presentation processes under your belt, you can do a lot more with PowerPoint than just presentations for your clients. PowerPoint and similar slide applications are flexible tools that should not be forgotten. With a great template, you can be on your way to creating presentations that wow your audience.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in September 2013 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.

Blog - Beautiful PowerPoint Presentation Template [List-Based]

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designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

How to Design a PowerPoint: A Visual Guide to Making Slides with Impact

Home > Speaking > How to Design a PowerPoint

A quick Google Images search for “worst PowerPoint slides” proves two very clear realities: 1) anybody can create a PowerPoint; and 2) many don’t know how to do them well.

That’s understandable, though. Unless you’ve recently taken courses or training in design, data visualization, and public speaking, you likely haven’t had any more education on how to create an effective slide deck than a ten-year-old.

And you’re not alone.

Bad PowerPoints are everywhere: professor lectures, science conferences, human resources trainings, team meetings, sales review gatherings, thesis and dissertation defenses, product pitches, job interviews, you name it. Some of the brightest people in the world have created some of the most awful PowerPoints. For most, it’s just not a natural skill.

That’s unfortunate, too, because a well-designed slide deck can make a tremendous difference in the reception of the message you’re trying to convey.

To start designing excellent slide decks right away, follow my quick guide to designing better PowerPoints right after this paragraph. To get a whole workshop’s worth of information about how to design better slides, scroll below. 🙂

Click image to enlarge.

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

The question is, does designing a nice PowerPoint actually matter?

Well, if you’ve made it this far, you already know my opinion. But the short answer is, YES! Effective slide decks can make a HUGE difference in the outcome of your presentation. Why? Because slides—which should be used to supplement and enhance your well-prepared script (not be the presentation, as we often see in slides that are nothing more than bulleted lists)—significantly improve engagement during the presentation and recall after the presentation.

Basically, if you want people to both pay attention AND remember what you said, good slides can make all the difference. Plus, research has shown that people trust information more when it’s well-designed. In sum, good slides will cause your audience to:

  • Pay attention more and stay more engaged;
  • Remember the key messages from your presentation better;
  • Trust you and your information more; and
  • Believe you are super smart and awesome. (I mean, you already are, but good slides will seal the deal.)

Bad slides, on the other hand, are not only distracting, but they can actually damage a person’s ability to understand and follow your message.

At best, poorly designed slides will make you look less professional. At worst, they’ll encourage people to not listen to anything you have to say. Bad slides (which are caused by a whole range of things, including being too text-heavy, too busy, too inconsistent, or too color crazy, etc. [see my article on 40 Ways to Screw Up a PowerPoint Slide ]), overwhelmingly distract from your presentation.

If a slide has too much text, people try to read it and listen to you at the same time—which damages their ability to do either well. If your slides are too busy, your audience won’t be able to understand the information quick enough. If it’s ugly, well…people just tune out and ignore (and judge you, to boot).

Okay, so enough of the why . Let’s get to making better slides!

The 9 Steps to Designing a Better PowerPoint Slide

Step 1: empathize with your audience.

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

The term “empathy” in this context comes from a relatively new theory called “design thinking,” in which you can apply the mindset of a designer to a variety of contexts. So, whether you’re creating a toothbrush, a video game, an automobile, or…a PowerPoint, you need to be thinking a like a designer—which starts with empathy.

Empathizing with an audience is like applying the Golden Rule: present unto them as you would like to be presented to. Of course, the content of presentation itself comes first and foremost, but the design of your slides should support and enhance your content, so you’ll be thinking of your script and your slides at the same time. To begin, it’s best to start with a few concrete questions about your audience:

  • Why are they there? Are they at your presentation because they want to be, or because they have to be? Is your presentation the only one of the day, or is it one of many (like at a conference)? Are they expecting to learn, be entertained, be inspired, be trained? In essence, you want to know their state of mind before coming so you can plan to accommodate that as best you can.
  • Why would they care? Dig deep here. Does your audience actually care about the topic as much as you do? And…if you don’t care, why don’t you? If the topic isn’t meaningful and you can’t make it feel that way, then why even present? But…if they do care, know why they do. What will they hope for and expect out of it? What can you do to meet and exceed their expectations?
  • What do they need to know? And what DON’T they? How much about your subject do they already know? Are they novices, experts, or a blend of both? Does it make more sense to break your topic into separate presentations on separate days, rather than giving it all at once? Is it focused and narrow enough to make an impact? Can you leave anything that is irrelevant out?
  • What will keep them engaged? Consider your content and your big takeaways. Consider the personalities and knowledge base of the audience? What can you do to keep them engaged? Now…remember that “engaged” doesn’t mean “entertained” (though it can). If you’re a scientist presenting on bacterial infections in the liver, entertainment is obviously not appropriate. But…if you don’t engage them, they may not appreciate your research, no matter how valuable it is. What will they want to see, hear, and know and how can you display that to them in a way that will keep them interested?

Once you have clear idea about your audience’s needs and desires, you can begin to develop slides (along with the content of your script) that will give them exactly what they’re looking for rather than wasting their time (and yours).

Step 2: Define the Story

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

Think of your presentation as a story and you, the presenter, as an author in real time. As you deliver a presentation, you are creating the tone, setting, and plot for what happens. Your execution of the presentation will, if done right, create a climax/conflict and an important resolution. Consider how your slide development functions like the five components of a story, then write down how you plan to control (define) that story:

  • The Setting. You create a mood and presence by the way you enter the room, interact with the audience, and display your title. While you may not have full control over who comes and what the room looks like, you do have relative control over the tone and ambiance and how they will react to your message. Consider the title of your presentation. Does it capture your message while also creating a buzz about your topic? Can you add a photo on the title slide that will intrigue your audience? What colors will you use? How do you plan to interact with the slides and how will you keep the audience involved?
  • The Characters. You may not know all the people in the room, but you should know as much about them as possible (start with Step 1). Still, you have a way to shape their interest and engagement in this topic. Characters in this story are stakeholders. Your ultimate goal for giving should be one of three things: help them think about something in a new, meaningful way; learn something valuable they didn’t know before; and/or act as a result of what they learned. If you can’t get them to one of those three points, you’ve never really developed the characters.
  • The Plot . A plot in storytelling is a series of events that build towards a conclusion. A plot needs to have direction, with clear and meaningful series of events. As you develop your script, you should be thinking about your rhetorical progression of ideas—your building towards a final outcome or conclusion. The development of slides can help you with this and they can help your audience stay on track. The key is, you need to make sure your audience is following the plot. If the plot starts to feel loose, disconnected, fragmented, or…all over the place, you’ll lose them faster than a 0-star rated movie.
  • The Conflict. There must be some reason why everyone is there to see you presentation. It’s possible they don’t fully understand it themselves, but you, as the presenter, must make their purpose evidently clear. You must make them care. The more and more you pull them into your subject matter, the more you have effectively built a climax, which is the key to any successful story.
  • The Resolution . The resolution is the takeaway—it’s what resolves the conflict. If you’ve built a strong climax, you now need to make sure your audience leaves with something valuable. If they leave thinking in a new, meaningful way; if they have learned something valuable that they can apply today; or if they are ready and knowledgeable about how to act, then the resolution is there and you, the author, have done your job.

Step 3: Brand Your Message

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

Jeff Bezos is famous for having said, “Brand is what others say about you when you’re not in the room.” You might think similarly about your presentation. How will your audience feel about your presentation afterwards, when you’re not around?

That can be an intimidating question to ask. And, it may seem a little odd to think about your message as a “brand.” But…applying brand theory to messaging makes a lot of sense. You want people to get on board with what you have to say. To do that, you have to establish what they value, what motivates them, and what you’ll have to do meet or exceed their expectations.

Brand experts use a lot of terms to describe and define brands. Let’s address a few, and apply them to slide design:

  • Differentiation. How yours is different from the rest. What can you do to make your message stand out from a world of clutter and information? What makes yours unique? Is it your approach, the stories you tell, your language, your humor, your ideas, something else?
  • Authenticity . How much you genuinely care. Audiences can tell if you’re passionate or not. They know if you care about both your topic and them learning it. If you fake it, the message gets diluted. Use your slides to help showcase how much you care.
  • History . What people already know about you, your topic, or your experience. Do you need to establish credibility, or do you already have it? Do you have experience you can lean into? Does your audience already like/agree with this topic? Is it totally new and unfamiliar to them? How can you bring the history of your topic and yourself into the presentation? Will you audience need a primer on the history or does it matter?
  • Simplicity. Making the most important things stick. Good brands almost always have simple logos, simple taglines, and simple brand positioning statements. Many also focus on limited products—they focus on what they do well. Your message can work the same way. Can you simplify your entire message into 2 – 5 key points? Can you reduce the amount of information that has to be taken in all at once? Can you help organize and chunk information to be clearer and simpler to follow? People generally have a hard time remembering complex information all at once—determine what the real purpose of your presentation is and what your audience can reasonably get out of it, then simplify to make sure that happens.
  • Visual Identity . Your message, like a brand, can be enhanced if people resonate with the overall look and feel. Just like with buying a brand of shoes, people will be drawn to the design of your information. If it looks static, cliche, poorly design, or just plain ugly, you’ve created an undesirable visual identity and people will have a harder time buying into it. But if you can take your message and harmonize with strong design and imagery, people will be more likely to be attracted by, latch onto, and “buy in” to what you have to say. What should your visual identity look like, considering your topic?

Step 4: Select Your Fonts

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

The choice of your font may seem a small thing, but it can make the difference between a sleek, professional presentation and one that is static, boring, or, worse, painfully obnoxious.

If you’re not a professional designer, being font savvy may not come natural. Fortunately, there just a few rules you can follow to help you make your choices:

  • Avoid the Defaults . In PowerPoint (as in MS Word), the default font is Calibri. Before 2010, the default was Times New Roman. Other programs use Arial or Myriad Pro as the default. What’s wrong with defaults? The fonts themselves are actually fine fonts—that’s why Microsoft went with them. BUT…because they’re the defaults, they are so widely used that they’ve become dull. If you just leave the defaults, your audience will subconsciously feel that you didn’t design your PowerPoint (because you probably didn’t). Just changing the font can bolster your PowerPoint’s professionalism quickly.
  • Stick to Simple, Modern Fonts. Okay, so you don’t want to use the defaults, but what DO you use? Something simple. Don’t go crazy. Find something that is similar to the default, with just a little variation. Find something that is super easy to read and looks clean, simple, and sleek. Nothing distracting. Remember: you want people to focus on your story and message, not the lettering. Look at the graphic above for a list of some good, simple, modern fonts. Avoid, at all costs, the notoriously ugly or cliched fonts: Comic Sans; Chiller; Papyrus; Algerian; Curlz MT; and so forth.
  • Make Sure Your Fonts Are on the Computer(s) You’re Presenting On. Remember: fonts are installed on individual computers, not attached to a program. A misunderstanding that many people have is that a font comes with PowerPoint (or any other program you’re working on). That’s NOT accurate. Fonts are installed on your computer. So…if you use a cool font that was on your desktop PC, but you are presenting your slides on a MacBook laptop, you’ll want to check that both computers have the font you’re using. Some fonts are pretty standard and you’ll find them on pretty much all computers: Palatino Linotype, Century Gothic, Segoe UI, Garamond. Others, however, are proprietary and may not be on other computers: Acumin Pro, Raleway, Helvetica. If you know you’ll be presenting on multiple different computers, find a standard font. One I’ve always liked to use is Century Gothic.
  • Consider Using Two Fonts . The “two-font rule” suggests that designs will be more attractive if they use two fonts—one for headings and titles, the other for body text. You can get away with just one font if you make your headings stand out in some way—by size, weight, or color—but it’s often a nice aesthetic to use two. Just be sure that the two fonts are obviously different from each other (don’t use both Arial AND Century Gothic—they’re too similar, which will look like an accident) and that they harmonize well together. It’s often good to use a serif font (the type with little “feet” like in Palatino Linotype) paired with a sans serif font (the kind without “feet,” like Century Gothic).

Step 5: Narrow Your Colors

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

A hallmark of any good design is a simple, consistent color scheme. Keep your slide designs to fewer than four colors. Often, it’s good to use black, white, gray, and then one or two accent colors. Years ago, when I was new to design, I had someone tell me that a brochure I created looked like a clown exploded on the page. You DON’T want your slides to look like a clown exploded! To avoid that, find your color scheme in advance and stick to it.

Color can be tricky. If you work for a company that already has a pre-established style guide and color scheme, definitely use it! Not only is that important for your company’s brand, it makes your life a whole lot easier. If you do have to choose colors yourself, though, consider going to this website first: color.adobe.com . You can type things into the “explore” bar and you’ll be led to color schemes that look nice.

What you want to look for are colors that are a bit muted and won’t overwhelm the eyes of your viewers. Remember that you want to keep a high contrast so it doesn’t strain your audience members’ eyes. So…stick to black or really dark gray for text. Keep a white or very light background. Use the accent color for headings or important pieces of content. And…just make sure the colors match your topic or industry.

Step 6: Divide into Sections

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

Good presentations are well organized. Your slides should visually reflect your organization by using different slide “types” for different parts of your presentation or content.

All presentations should have at least three slide types: a title slide, a body slide, and a closing slide. Most presentations will have a fourth: a section slide. Section slides are used to transition your presentation from one major topic to the next. Many presentations can also benefit from callout slides, which are used to designate unique types of content that show up periodically—like for direct quotes or polling questions to audience members.

If you’ve ever taken a college course on public speaking, you probably remember your professor telling you to use “signposts.” A signpost is a metaphor for visual or oral cues that let your reader know where they’re at in the journey. Signposts keep your audience oriented. Sectioning your slides provides a visual signifier to your audience that you are shifting gears—plus, it just makes your slides feel cohesive, professional, and organized.

Take the time to design your slide types first. Then, fill in the content from your presentation script.

A quick note about body slides, though. These are going to be the most frequently used slides, the ones that you put the majority of your content on. Note that body slides don’t all have to look identical. They need to be consistent in design—repeating the same fonts, colors, photography style, highlights, etc.—but the layouts can change. Providing some visual variation is good for your audience.

Step 7: Visualize Every Slide

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

One of the biggest errors inexperienced presenters make is believing that audience members need to be able to read a lot of text to understand the message.

The reality is, when you put a lot of text on the screen—even if it’s in a bulleted list—you end up creating more difficulty for your audience. They’ll try to read while also trying to listen to you, creating a conflict of noise that will eventually cause them to only catch about half of what you wanted them to. Plus, a lot of text is boring and not efficient for the human brain.

Research has actually shown (and there is significant evidence to prove this) that making information visual is good for humans for four reasons: engagement, cognition, trust, and recall.

  • Visual information is more engaging . Most all people will tell you that they are “visual learners.” The reality is that pretty much all humans are. We pay attention to visual information because our brains are designed to process visual information faster. When you provide visuals—photographs, charts, diagrams, icons, etc.—people will pay far more attention than if you just have text. In fact, if you just have text on a screen, people will likely zone out.
  • Visual information is easier to understand. If designed well and related to the topic, people will understand visual information faster than they will from reading. Even as you read this article (assuming you’re still here!), the information that is really going to help you are the visual examples and explanations I’ve added for each section. That’s the stuff where you’ll say, “aha! now I know what Curtis is telling me to do.” All this text—it’s just ancillary stuff to provide more detail. But the photos/graphics are what you’ll really learn from.
  • Visualized information builds trust. For better or for worse, humans are wired to trust information more when it has been visualized, especially when it looks professional. If you take a table of data and turn it into a data visualization that is professionally design, people will tend to trust it more. Something about taking the time to visualize information makes people assume you know what you’re talking about. Now, that said, you have to make sure your data visualizations are accurate. The real pitfall here is that people will tend to trust it more, even if it’s misleading. If they discover any flaws, your entire argument (and credibility) will go out the window.
  • Visual information is easier to remember . Research studies have shown that visual information will be retained more than six times better if visuals are attached to it. If you actually want people to remember your presentation you must do two things: tell stories and use pictures. If you simply regurgitate information and make it very text-heavy, your audience will forget almost everything you said within three days. If you add pictures, though, they’ll have mental images to trigger memory, helping them retain your message much longer.

Find ways to visualize every chance you can, making sure that your visuals emphasize, clarify, or enhance the content you are talking about. Look at the examples above. Find ways to reduce text and enlarge graphics; turn bullets into images or icons; and use simple, easy to understand graphics that draw attention to the most important point.

Step 8: Play with Photos and Layouts

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

This is the one that takes the most practice, but it can be the most fun and rewarding. Recognize that your body slides can take multiple forms and that there are endless ways to organize, crop, and adjust visualizations, photos, headings, and designs. As long as you keep your color scheme, fonts, and highlighting techniques consistent, the slides will still feel uniform and professional, while giving variety to your slides.

Some things to think about as you play with the design of your slides:

  • CONTRAST: Make sure you use high contrast in colors, especially for areas where you have text (black text on white backgrounds almost always work best). In addition, make sure that things that are different actually look significantly different. If two fonts are different sizes, make them obviously different sizes. If you’re using two colors, make them completely different colors. When two things look similar, there isn’t much contrast, which looks accidental and/or visually dull.
  • REPETITION: Repetition is all about consistency in design. Repeat design elements throughout: fonts, colors, highlights, logos, shapes, styles, etc. Repeat the same visual feel for photos. Use the same types of icons and graphics. The more unified the design, the strong the appeal and the more professional you look.
  • ALIGNMENT: Make sure everything on your slide is aligned with something else. Nothing should be “floating,” or placed arbitrarily. Align photos to titles, words to other words, rules/lines to other elements. Keep it all tightly aligned and crisp.
  • PROXIMITY: Put things that are related close together and things that aren’t apart from each other. The brain will automatically assume that, if two things are next to each other (like a photo and a caption) that they are connected. Avoid confusing your audience by separating things that are different and connecting things that go together.
  • Move Photos to the Bleeds . The term “bleed” is a graphic design principle that describes moving photos to the edge of page (where the ink “bleeds” off) in order to reduce visual noise. An old design principles developed by Josef Albers, 1+1=3, suggests that when you insert two objects, you automatically create a third—the space between. When you insert a photo, you end up creating a margin of white space around the edges. If that white space isn’t necessary, just make the image larger and push clear to the edge of the screen. This will remove the margin and the noise. Plus, it just makes slides look simpler and more professional and it really draws the eyes to the photo.

Step 9: Orient Your Audience

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

In addition to creating section slides (see Step 6 above), you can help your audience—and yourself—stay organized by giving visual cues and textual information in footers, slide counts, and headers or sidebars.

These orienting features of a slide deck can be especially valuable if you’re giving a long presentation, workshop, or training.

Start by creating a footer. These aren’t required and you don’t need them on every slide, but in most costs, presentations will benefit from some information in the footer. Some of the most common things to include in a footer:

  • Company logo
  • Company name
  • Name of presenter
  • Name of event or conference
  • Title of presentation
  • Copyright information

Beyond the footer, you can also include a slide count (in example above, look at the bottom right of the slide). While some argue that this can be distracting, most would say that a slide count will help audience members know how much more to expect, putting their “I’m being held hostage by this presenter!” fears away.

If your presentation is particularly long (like, say, 45 minutes or more) or you’re giving a workshop, you can really help your audience by giving them a sort of contents or guide, so that they know where they’re at in relation to everything else. You might, for example, create a small sidebar on the left that includes the section they’re in with the subsection. Or, as in the example at the top (see top left of example), you might just include which section you’re on and a summary title of that section.

There is no one or perfect way to orient your audience members. Just make sure it’s on the forefront of your mind as you work to build empathy into your slide design. The presentation is for them, after all, not you. Give them as much as you can to help them appreciate the message you’re delivering.

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designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

Basic tasks for creating a PowerPoint presentation

PowerPoint presentations work like slide shows. To convey a message or a story, you break it down into slides. Think of each slide as a blank canvas for the pictures and words that help you tell your story.

Choose a theme

When you open PowerPoint, you’ll see some built-in themes and templates . A theme is a slide design that contains matching colors, fonts, and special effects like shadows, reflections, and more.

On the File tab of the Ribbon, select New , and then choose a theme.

PowerPoint shows you a preview of the theme, with four color variations to choose from on the right side.

Click Create , or pick a color variation and then click Create .

Shows the Create New presentation from Theme dialog in PowerPoint

Read more: Use or create themes in PowerPoint

Insert a new slide

On the Home tab, click the bottom half of  New Slide , and pick a slide layout.

Shows New Slide button on Home tab of the ribbon in PowerPoint

Read more: Add, rearrange, and delete slides .

Save your presentation

On the File tab, choose Save .

Pick or browse to a folder.

In the File name box, type a name for your presentation, and then choose Save .

Note:  If you frequently save files to a certain folder, you can ‘pin’ the path so that it is always available (as shown below).

Save your PowerPoint presentation

Tip:  Save your work as you go. Press Ctrl+S often or save the file to OneDrive and let AutoSave take care of it for you. 

Read more: Save your presentation file

Select a text placeholder, and begin typing.

Shows adding text to a text field in PowerPoint

Format your text

Select the text.

Under Drawing Tools , choose Format .

Shows the Drawing Tools tab on the ribbon in PowerPoint

Do one of the following:

To change the color of your text, choose Text Fill , and then choose a color.

To change the outline color of your text, choose Text Outline , and then choose a color.

To apply a shadow, reflection, glow, bevel, 3-D rotation, a transform, choose Text Effects , and then choose the effect you want.

Change the fonts

Change the color of text on a slide

Add bullets or numbers to text

Format text as superscript or subscript

Add pictures

On the Insert tab, select Pictures , then do one of the following:

To insert a picture that is saved on your local drive or an internal server, choose This Device , browse for the picture, and then choose Insert .

(For Microsoft 365 subscribers) To insert a picture from our library, choose Stock Images , browse for a picture, select it and choose Insert .

To insert a picture from the web, choose Online Pictures , and use the search box to find a picture. Choose a picture, and then click Insert .

Insert image location in the ribbon.

You can add shapes to illustrate your slide. 

On the Insert tab, select Shapes , and then select a shape from the menu that appears.

In the slide area, click and drag to draw the shape.

Select the Format or Shape Format tab on the ribbon. Open the Shape Styles gallery to quickly add a color and style (including shading) to the selected shape.

Shape Styles group

Add speaker notes

Slides are best when you don’t cram in too much information. You can put helpful facts and notes in the speaker notes, and refer to them as you present.

notes button in PowerPoint

Click inside the Notes pane below the slide, and begin typing your notes.

Shows the speaker Notes pane in PowerPoint

Add speaker notes to your slides

Print slides with or without speaker notes

Give your presentation

On the Slide Show tab, do one of the following:

To start the presentation at the first slide, in the Start Slide Show group, click From Beginning .

Shows the Slide Show tab on the ribbon in PowerPoint

If you’re not at the first slide and want to start from where you are, click From Current Slide .

If you need to present to people who are not where you are, click Present Online to set up a presentation on the web, and then choose one of the following options:

Broadcast your PowerPoint presentation online to a remote audience

View your speaker notes as you deliver your slide show.

Get out of Slide Show view

To get out of Slide Show view at any time, on the keyboard, press Esc .

You can quickly apply a theme when you're starting a new presentation:

On the File tab, click New .

Select a theme.

Apply a theme

Read more:  Apply a design theme to your presentation

In the slide thumbnail pane on the left, select the slide that you want your new slide to follow.

On the Home tab, select the lower half of  New Slide .

From the menu, select the layout that you want for your new slide.

Your new slide is inserted, and you can click inside a placeholder to begin adding content.

Learn more about slide layouts

Read more: Add, rearrange, and delete slides

PowerPoint for the web automatically saves your work to your OneDrive, in the cloud.

To change the name of the automatically saved file:

In the title bar, click the file name.

In the File Name box, enter the name you want to apply to the file.

If you want to change the cloud storage location, at the right end of the Location box, click the arrow symbol, then navigate to the folder you want, then select Move here .

On the Home tab, use the Font options:

Font color button in Visio for the web

Select from other formatting options such as Bold , Italic , Underline , Strikethrough , Subscript , and Superscript .

On the  Insert  tab, select  Pictures .

From the menu, select where you want to insert the picture from:

On the Insert tab of the ribbon, select Pictures, and then on the menu choose the type of picture you want.

Browse to the image you want, select it, then select Insert . 

After the image is inserted on the slide, you can select it and drag to reposition it, and you can select and drag a corner handle to resize the image. 

On the slide canvas, click and drag to draw the shape.

Select the Shape tab on the ribbon. Open the Shape Styles gallery to quickly add a color and style (including shading) to the selected shape.

The Shape tab on the ribbon in PowerPoint for the web includes quick styles you can apply to any shape.

A horizontal Notes pane appears at the bottom of the window, below the slide.

Click in the pane, then enter text. 

Vertical double arrow

On the  Slide Show  tab, select  Play From Beginning .

To start a slide show, on the View tab of the ribbon select Play From Beginning.

To navigate through the slides, simply click the mouse or press the spacebar.

Tip:  You can also use the forward and back arrow keys on your keyboard to navigate through the slide show.

Read more:  Present your slide show

Stop a slide show

To get out of Slide Show view at any time, on the keyboard, press Esc.

The full-screen slide show will close, and you will be returned to the editing view of the file.

Tips for creating an effective presentation

Consider the following tips to keep your audience interested.

Minimize the number of slides

To maintain a clear message and to keep your audience attentive and interested, keep the number of slides in your presentation to a minimum.

Choose an audience-friendly font size

The audience must be able to read your slides from a distance. Generally speaking, a font size smaller than 30 might be too difficult for the audience to see.

Keep your slide text simple

You want your audience to listen to you present your information, instead of reading the screen. Use bullets or short sentences, and try to keep each item to one line.

Some projectors crop slides at the edges, so that long sentences might be cropped.

Use visuals to help express your message

Pictures, charts, graphs, and SmartArt graphics provide visual cues for your audience to remember. Add meaningful art to complement the text and messaging on your slides.

As with text, however, avoid including too many visual aids on your slide.

Make labels for charts and graphs understandable

Use only enough text to make label elements in a chart or graph comprehensible.

Apply subtle, consistent slide backgrounds

Choose an appealing, consistent template or theme that is not too eye-catching. You don't want the background or design to detract from your message.

However, you also want to provide a contrast between the background color and text color. The built-in themes in PowerPoint set the contrast between a light background with dark colored text or dark background with light colored text.

For more information about how to use themes, see Apply a theme to add color and style to your presentation .

Check the spelling and grammar

To earn and maintain the respect of your audience, always check the spelling and grammar in your presentation .

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10 Pro PPT Tips: PowerPoint Design Ideas

It’s not difficult to design a PowerPoint presentation. Designing an effective presentation, however, is an entirely different story.

Studies show that 91% of presenters feel more confident when presenting a slideshow with a great design. But, the problem is that 45% of professionals find it difficult to design creative layouts.

A PowerPoint presentation is not just about creating a few slides with bright colors and images. It mainly needs to be able to convey your message more effectively, maintain your audience’s attention, as well as to persuade and convince them.

Designing such a slideshow is not a Herculean task. You just need to know the right tricks.

In this guide, we share some useful PowerPoint tips and PowerPoint design ideas to help you learn how to craft creative slide layouts more easily. Without further ado, let’s get started.

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Explore PowerPoint Templates

Use the Built-In Design Ideas Tool

PowerPoint Designer is one of the best built-in tools available in the software that many users are still not aware of. This tool allows you to instantly apply high-quality design layouts to slides with just a few clicks.

PowerPoint Design Ideas

You can find the PowerPoint Designer under the Design tab of the software. Simply add some text and an image to a blank slide and the Design Ideas tab on the far-right will start suggesting different design layouts. All you have to do is pick one.

This AI-powered feature in PowerPoint works wonders when you have to quickly put together a slideshow. The only downside is that this tool is only available in the Office 365 version of PowerPoint. If you’re using PowerPoint 2019, using a good template is the best alternative.

Get a Professional Template

Coming up with a great slide layout design is a big responsibility. And it’s probably why it takes over 8 hours for most professionals to design a PowerPoint presentation.

powerpoint templates envato

Using a custom PowerPoint template is the easiest way to save hours of time and still design a professional-looking slideshow. You can download pre-made PowerPoint templates from third-party marketplaces and customize them with your own content. You can change the colors, fonts, and add your own images. It’s much easier than having to craft creative slide layouts on your own.

You can find inspiration by browsing our best PowerPoint templates collection.

Pick the Right Color Scheme

According to color psychology , specific colors have the power to evoke emotions in humans and even persuade them to take action.

For example, there’s a reason why Stop signs and For Sale signs use the same Red color. It’s simply hard-wired into our brain to stop and look when something is displayed in this color.

powerpoint color scheme

You can also leverage color psychology to design more effective PowerPoint slides. Based on the topic, you can pick colors to evoke the right emotions in your audience.

In order to do this, you need to pick a color palette for your slideshow design and create a consistent design across all slides in the presentation.

Add Custom Fonts

The text you use in each slide is the driving force behind educating and convincing the audience. Needless to say, it’s very important to make sure your titles and descriptions are easily readable and clearly visible in each slide.

powerpoint choose the right font

Find a great font family for your presentations and avoid using the default system fonts. This will give your slideshow a unique and professional look.

You can check out our best fonts for PowerPoint collection to find a unique font for your designs.

Learn to Use Master Slides

The aptly named Master Slides in PowerPoint is where you can master the art of customizing your slide layouts.

powerpoint master slides

From the View tab, you can find the Slide Master option to open the editor. Here, you can customize the pre-built layouts included in the slide theme you’re currently using.

You can change the colors, fonts, styles and the changes will automatically apply to all of the master slides in the theme. You can even design your own custom slide layouts to quickly add slides to your presentations in the future.

Learning to use Master Slides will make your presentation design process much simpler.

Adopt Design Trends

Fusing design trends into your PPT slide layouts is another great way to make your presentations look creative and relevant.

powerpoint pastel colors

For example, using pastel colors in PowerPoint slide design is a popular trend these days. You can use such trends to add unique and personalized layouts to your presentations.

Vintage design, Art Deco, dark color themes, and geometric are a few other PPT design trends you can use.

Include Infographics & Charts

Presenting numbers and data is an important part of a PowerPoint slideshow. It’s much more difficult to convince your audience without data to back your claims.

The way you present the data in a presentation is also important. Because if you present them in plain numbers, you’ll have a tough time getting through to the audience.

powerpoint infographics

Instead, visualize your data in a more appealing way. You can do this by using infographics, charts, timelines, and graphs.

You don’t have to hand-craft these visuals. In fact, there are PowerPoint templates that come loaded with editable infographics and charts you can use in your own presentations.

Follow the 10/20/30 Rule

Guy Kawasaki, a popular author, speaker, and entrepreneur, introduced a very simple rule for creating effective PowerPoint presentations called the 10/20/30 rule . It goes like this:

10-20-30-rule

  • Use no more than 10 Slides in your presentations
  • Present the slides in under 20 Minutes
  • Use a 30-Point Font for text

It’s simple and straightforward. The main goal of this strategy is to create short and efficient presentations without filler content.

While these rules are too strict for delivering certain presentations, you can still use them as guidelines to create better slideshows.

Use Illustrations Instead of Stock Images

If you’re tired of seeing the same images in every presentation, blog post, and social media post, keep in mind that your audience is just as tired as you are.

There are many great free stock photo sites with great selections of images. Unfortunately, these images are used by thousands of people all over the web. If you use the same images, the chances are your audience will easily recognize them.

powerpoint illustrations

A good alternative you could try in your presentations is to use illustrations. With the right illustrations, you can make each slide look and feel unique. As well as add personality to your presentation.

Illustrations are easy to find. You can download illustration packs from marketplaces like Envato Elements or download them from free sites.

Remember The KISS Principle

kiss principle

KISS , the design principle popularized by the US Navy in 1960 is still relevant today. The idea behind the Keep It Simple, Stupid principle is to encourage designs that are simpler and easier to understand.

Follow this principle when designing your presentations. Instead of filling each slide with long paragraphs of text, use short sentences. Instead of adding lots of images, use just one or two images per slide. Keep It Simple and Straightforward.

Hopefully, these PPT design tips will help you craft better and more effective presentations in the future. Learning new tips and tricks is part of the design process. So keep learning and keep experimenting with new ideas.

Also, check out our complete guide to using PowerPoint templates to learn more about presentation design.

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

  • Resources / Technology and Writing

Creating Effective PowerPoint® Presentations

by Purdue Global Academic Success Center and Writing Center · Published February 4, 2014 · Updated February 3, 2014

A Resource to Share with Students

By Chrissine Rios, Writing Tutor

Microsoft® PowerPoint® is a tool for creating dynamic oral presentations. This tutorial introduces the elements of a PowerPoint® presentation and helps you get started by illustrating the steps for creating slides and the features that make a presentation effective.

ELEMENTS OF A POWERPOINT® PRESENTATION

If you have been assigned a PowerPoint® in addition to an essay or instead of an essay, here are the key similarities and differences between these two forms:

Elements of a PPT vs an Essay

GETTING STARTED WITH SLIDES

Similar to drafting an essay, when creating a PowerPoint®, you need to define your topic and focus, determine your audience, and know your purpose–whether you are informing, educating, entertaining, or persuading.

Another essential step that takes as much time when creating a PowerPoint® as it does when writing an essay is to research your subject matter and prewrite your ideas.

A next step to fully prepare is to make an informal outline to organize your ideas and establish a clear beginning middle and end. With the groundwork complete and content prepared, you are ready to create Slide 1.

1.     New presentations begin with a title slide. Follow the directions given in the text placeholders beginning with “click to add title.”

2.      Then, in the next box, add your subtitle. You may also use this area to provide your name and the university name per APA guidelines or any other information required on your title slide.

3.      Since a PowerPoint® accompanies an oral presentation, you may want to add speaker notes in the notes pane to elaborate on the points on each slide.

Slide 1

Slide 1: Add title, subtitle, your name, your university name, and in the Notes pane, your speaker notes.

Slides 2, 3, 4…

1.    To insert another slide, right-click the thumbnail of the slide that you want the next slide to follow.

2.    On the drop-down menu, click “New Slide.”

3.    The new slide will open in a default layout. To use this layout, “click to add title,” and in the body placeholder, you can click to add text or select from the media options.

Slides 2, 3, 4...

4.    To use another layout, open the  Slide Layout  task pane and select the layout that best suits your content.

Slide Layout Task Pane

5.    Continue inserting slides using the same steps as above, or insert a “Duplicate Slide” and replace the text or image to  maintain c onsistent title placement and formatting.

APA Citation Tips:

  • Cite your research after the bullet point(s) that have the quoted, paraphrased, or summarized text.
  • You can insert text boxes as needed and position them on the slide to add citations to images or charts from your research. Refer to the Insert menu on the PowerPoint® toolbar to use this feature.

DESIGNING AN EFFECTIVE PRESENTATION

PowerPoint® presentations are meant to be seen more than read. Their impact depends on their visual appeal, so you will want to apply design features. For the design to be effective, consider the following:

1. Apply a theme . Themes are design templates that establish the background, bullets, charts, SmartArt, and text style, as well as the position of the content placeholders. Slide layout options also remain available, and you can resize and reposition any object on a slide (except the stylistic patterns built into the themes).

Apply a Theme

Apply a theme.

2.  Use a consistent background such as one design template throughout. Only use a different background in the presentation to bring attention to one slide. 

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

Use a consistent background, color scheme, and font.

3. Use a consistent color scheme throughout of no more than three colors (or one design theme).   When selecting colors, avoid h ard-to-read extremes such as black text on a white background, which is blinding, or white text on a black background, which is like reading the inside of a box. 

4. Use one type of transition  between slides for consistency. 

5. Use the same  font throughout such as Arial, Times, Verdana, or Calibri. Use font sizes large enough to view from anywhere in the room. Avoid using font smaller than 24. 

6. Use visuals such as charts, images, and clipart to illustrate your content. However, do not add clipart simply to make a slide fancier or more colorful. 

An Ineffective Slide Design

Cartoonish clipart is unprofessional and distracting. In this example it also crowds the text, which itself is too frilly, dense, slanted, and small to read.

All elements of the slide must work together to be effective and have the intended impact on the audience.

Effective Slide Design

APA Citation 

When using Microsoft ® PowerPoint ® clipart in your Microsoft ® PowerPoint ® presentation, you do not have to cite it according to APA.  If you use clipart or images from an on-line source, however, you will want to attribute the art to its source with a citation. In APA format, this citation format is the following: 

In-text, aligned with image: (Name of image creator, Year image was made)

Reference slide: Name of image creator, A. A. (Year image was made). Title of image. . Retrieved from http://…

Want to Learn More About PowerPoint? The Microsoft ® PowerPoint ® website has many tutorials to choose from: http://bit.ly/1cZWSY0

Download this tutorial as a pdf :  http://bit.ly/1dZirfZ

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Thanks for sharing this information! This is a terrific resource for my students in completing one of their course assignments. I’m definitely going to share! 🙂

Thank you, Terresa. We are so glad the blog helped. Chrissine always makes fabulous resources, and we will try to post more of them.

Thanks for your comment!

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Making better powerpoint presentations.

Print Version

Baddeley and Hitch’s model of working memory.

Research about student preferences for powerpoint, resources for making better powerpoint presentations, bibliography.

We have all experienced the pain of a bad PowerPoint presentation. And even though we promise ourselves never to make the same mistakes, we can still fall prey to common design pitfalls.  The good news is that your PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be ordinary. By keeping in mind a few guidelines, your classroom presentations can stand above the crowd!

“It is easy to dismiss design – to relegate it to mere ornament, the prettifying of places and objects to disguise their banality. But that is a serious misunderstanding of what design is and why it matters.” Daniel Pink

One framework that can be useful when making design decisions about your PowerPoint slide design is Baddeley and Hitch’s model of working memory .

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

As illustrated in the diagram above, the Central Executive coordinates the work of three systems by organizing the information we hear, see, and store into working memory.

The Phonological Loop deals with any auditory information. Students in a classroom are potentially listening to a variety of things: the instructor, questions from their peers, sound effects or audio from the PowerPoint presentation, and their own “inner voice.”

The Visuo-Spatial Sketchpad deals with information we see. This involves such aspects as form, color, size, space between objects, and their movement. For students this would include: the size and color of fonts, the relationship between images and text on the screen, the motion path of text animation and slide transitions, as well as any hand gestures, facial expressions, or classroom demonstrations made by the instructor.

The Episodic Buffer integrates the information across these sensory domains and communicates with long-term memory. All of these elements are being deposited into a holding tank called the “episodic buffer.” This buffer has a limited capacity and can become “overloaded” thereby, setting limits on how much information students can take in at once.

Laura Edelman and Kathleen Harring from Muhlenberg College , Allentown, Pennsylvania have developed an approach to PowerPoint design using Baddeley and Hitch’s model. During the course of their work, they conducted a survey of students at the college asking what they liked and didn’t like about their professor’s PowerPoint presentations. They discovered the following:

Characteristics students don’t like about professors’ PowerPoint slides

  • Too many words on a slide
  • Movement (slide transitions or word animations)
  • Templates with too many colors

Characteristics students like like about professors’ PowerPoint slides

  • Graphs increase understanding of content
  • Bulleted lists help them organize ideas
  • PowerPoint can help to structure lectures
  • Verbal explanations of pictures/graphs help more than written clarifications

According to Edelman and Harring, some conclusions from the research at Muhlenberg are that students learn more when:

  • material is presented in short phrases rather than full paragraphs.
  • the professor talks about the information on the slide rather than having students read it on their own.
  • relevant pictures are used. Irrelevant pictures decrease learning compared to PowerPoint slides with no picture
  • they take notes (if the professor is not talking). But if the professor is lecturing, note-taking and listening decreased learning.
  • they are given the PowerPoint slides before the class.

Advice from Edelman and Harring on leveraging the working memory with PowerPoint:

  • Leverage the working memory by dividing the information between the visual and auditory modality.  Doing this reduces the likelihood of one system becoming overloaded. For instance, spoken words with pictures are better than pictures with text, as integrating an image and narration takes less cognitive effort than integrating an image and text.
  • Minimize the opportunity for distraction by removing any irrelevant material such as music, sound effects, animations, and background images.
  • Use simple cues to direct learners to important points or content. Using text size, bolding, italics, or placing content in a highlighted or shaded text box is all that is required to convey the significance of key ideas in your presentation.
  • Don’t put every word you intend to speak on your PowerPoint slide. Instead, keep information displayed in short chunks that are easily read and comprehended.
  • One of the mostly widely accessed websites about PowerPoint design is Garr Reynolds’ blog, Presentation Zen . In his blog entry:  “ What is Good PowerPoint Design? ” Reynolds explains how to keep the slide design simple, yet not simplistic, and includes a few slide examples that he has ‘made-over’ to demonstrate how to improve its readability and effectiveness. He also includes sample slides from his own presentation about PowerPoint slide design.
  • Another presentation guru, David Paradi, author of “ The Visual Slide Revolution: Transforming Overloaded Text Slides into Persuasive Presentations ” maintains a video podcast series called “ Think Outside the Slide ” where he also demonstrates PowerPoint slide makeovers. Examples on this site are typically from the corporate perspective, but the process by which content decisions are made is still relevant for higher education. Paradi has also developed a five step method, called KWICK , that can be used as a simple guide when designing PowerPoint presentations.
  • In the video clip below, Comedian Don McMillan talks about some of the common misuses of PowerPoint in his routine called “Life After Death by PowerPoint.”

  • This article from The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights a blog moderated by Microsoft’s Doug Thomas that compiles practical PowerPoint advice gathered from presentation masters like Seth Godin , Guy Kawasaki , and Garr Reynolds .

Presenting to Win: The Art of Telling Your Story , by Jerry Weissman, Prentice Hall, 2006

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery , by Garr Reynolds, New Riders Press, 2008

Solving the PowerPoint Predicament: using digital media for effective communication , by Tom Bunzel , Que, 2006

The Cognitive Style of Power Point , by Edward R. Tufte, Graphics Pr, 2003

The Visual Slide Revolution: Transforming Overloaded Text Slides into Persuasive Presentations , by Dave Paradi, Communications Skills Press, 2000

Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck: And How You Can Make Them Better , by Rick Altman, Harvest Books, 2007

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Resource Tips for Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations

Slideshows are quick to produce, easy to update and an effective way to inject visual interest into almost any presentation.

However, slideshows can also spell disaster even for experienced presenters. The key to success is to make certain your slideshow is a visual aid and not a visual distraction.

Tips for Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations

  • Use the slide master feature to create a consistent and simple design template. It is fine to vary the content presentation (bulleted list, two-column text, text and image, etc.), but be consistent with other elements such as font, colors and background.
  • Simplify and limit the number of words on each screen. Use key phrases and include only essential information.
  • Limit punctuation and avoid putting words in all-capital letters. Empty space on the slide will enhance readability.
  • Use contrasting colors for text and background. Light text on a dark background is best. Patterned backgrounds can reduce readability.
  • Avoid the use of flashy transitions such as text fly-ins. These features may seem impressive at first but are distracting and get old quickly.
  • Overuse of special effects such as animation and sounds may make your presentation “cutesy” and could negatively affect your credibility.
  • Use good-quality images that reinforce and complement your message. Ensure that your image maintains its impact and resolution when projected on a larger screen.
  • If you use builds (lines of text appearing each time you click the mouse), have content appear on the screen in a consistent, simple manner; from the top or left is best. Use the feature only when necessary to make your point, because builds can slow your presentation.
  • Limit the number of slides. Presenters who constantly “flip” to the next slide are likely to lose their audience. A good rule of thumb is one slide per minute.
  • Learn to navigate your presentation in a nonlinear fashion. PowerPoint allows the presenter to jump ahead or back without having to page through all the interim slides.
  • Know how to and practice moving forward  and  backward within your presentation. Audiences often ask to see a previous screen again.
  • If possible, view your slides on the screen you’ll be using for your presentation. Make sure the slides are readable from the back row seats. Text and graphic images should be large enough to read but not so large as to appear “loud.”
  • Have a Plan B in the event of technical difficulties. Remember that transparencies and handouts will not show animation or other special effects.
  • Practice with someone who has never seen your presentation. Ask them for honest feedback about colors, content and any effects or graphic images you’ve included.
  • Do not read from your slides. The content of your slides is for the audience, not for the presenter.
  • Do not speak to your slides. Many presenters face their presentation onscreen rather than their audience.
  • Do not apologize for anything in your presentation. If you believe something will be hard to read or understand, don’t use it.

The Seven Deadly Sins of PowerPoint Presentations

By Joseph Sommerville

It’s not surprising PowerPoint© slideshows have become the norm for visuals in most business presentations. Slideshows are quick to produce, easy to update and effective to inject visual interest into the presentation. However, slideshows can also spell disaster even for experienced presenters. The key to success is to make certain your slide show is a visual aid and not a visual distraction. For the best results, avoid these common “seven deadly sins” of PowerPoint© presentations.

  • Slide Transitions And Sound Effects:  Transitions and sound effects can become the focus of attention, which in turn distracts the audience. Worse yet, when a presentation containing several effects and transitions runs on a computer much slower than the one on which it was created, the result is a sluggish, almost comical when viewed. Such gimmicks rarely enhance the message you’re trying to communicate. Unless you are presenting at a science fiction convention, leave out the laser-guided text! Leave the fade-ins, fade-outs, wipes, blinds, dissolves, checkerboards, cuts, covers and splits to Hollywood filmmakers. Even “builds” (lines of text appearing each time you click the mouse) can be distracting. Focus on your message, not the technology..  
  • Standard Clipart:  Death to screen beans! PowerPoint© is now so widely used the clipart included with it has become a “visual cliché.” It shows a lack of creativity and a tired adherence to a standard form. First, make certain that you need graphical images to enhance your message. If you do, use your own scanned photographs or better-quality graphics from companies such as PhotoDisc (www.photodisc.com) or Hemera’s Photo Objects (www.hemera.com). Screen captures can add realism when presenting information about a Website or computer program. Two popular screen capture programs are Snagit (www.techsmith.com) for Windows and Snapz Pro (www.ambrosiasw.com) for Macintosh. Both are available as shareware.  
  • Presentation Templates:   Another visual cliché. Templates force you to fit your original ideas into someone else’s pre-packaged mold. The templates often contain distracting backgrounds and poor color combinations. Select a good book on Web graphics and apply the same principles to your slides. Create your own distinctive look or use your company logo in a corner of the screen.  
  • Text-Heavy Slides:  Projected slides are a good medium for depicting an idea graphically or providing an overview. Slides are a poor medium for detail and reading. Avoid paragraphs, quotations and even complete sentences. Limit your slides to five lines of text and use words and phrases to make your points. The audience will be able to digest and retain key points more easily. Don’t use your slides as speaker’s notes or to simply project an outline of your presentation.  
  • The “Me” Paradigm:  Presenters often scan a table or graphical image directly from their existing print corporate material and include it in their slide show presentations. The results are almost always sub-optimal. Print visuals are usually meant to be seen from 8-12 inches rather than viewed from several feet. Typically, these images are too small, too detailed and too textual for an effective visual presentation. The same is true for font size; 12 point font is adequate when the text is in front of you. In a slideshow, aim for a minimum of 40 point font. Remember the audience and move the circle from “me” to “we.” Make certain all elements of any particular slide are large enough to be seen easily. Size really does matter.  
  • Reading:  A verbal presentation should focus on interactive speaking and listening, not reading by the speaker or the audience. The demands of spoken and written language differ significantly. Spoken language is shorter, less formal and more direct. Reading text ruins a presentation. A related point has to do with handouts for the audience. One of your goals as a presenter is to capture and hold the audience’s attention. If you distribute materials before your presentation, your audience will be reading the handouts rather than listening to you. Often, parts of an effective presentation depend on creating suspense to engage the audience. If the audience can read everything you’re going to say, that element is lost.  
  • Faith in Technology:  You never know when an equipment malfunction or incompatible interfaces will force you to give your presentation on another computer. Be prepared by having a back-up of your presentation on a CD-ROM. Better yet is a compact-flash memory card with an adapter for the PCMCIA slot in your notebook. With it, you can still make last-minute changes. It’s also a good idea to prepare a few color transparencies of your key slides. In the worst-case scenario, none of the technology works and you have no visuals to present. You should still be able to give an excellent presentation if you focus on the message. Always familiarize yourself with the presentation, practice it and be ready to engage the audience regardless of the technology that is available. It’s almost a lost art.

Joseph Sommerville has earned the title “The Presentation Expert” for helping professionals design, develop and deliver more effective presentations. He is the principal of Peak Communication Performance, a Houston-based firm working worldwide to help professionals develop skills in strategic communication.

Tips for Effective PowerPoint Presentations

  • Select a single sans-serif fonts such as Arial or Helvetica. Avoid serif fonts such as Times New Roman or Palatino because these fonts are sometimes more difficult to read.
  • Use no font size smaller than 24 point.
  • Use the same font for all your headlines.
  • Select a font for body copy and another for headlines.
  • Use bold and different sizes of those fonts for captions and subheadings.
  • Add a fourth font for page numbers or as a secondary body font for sidebars.
  • Don’t use more than four fonts in any one publication.
  • Clearly label each screen. Use a larger font (35-45 points) or different color for the title.
  • Use larger fonts to indicate importance.
  • Use different colors, sizes and styles (e.g., bold) for impact.
  • Avoid italicized fonts as these are difficult to read quickly.
  • Avoid long sentences.
  • Avoid abbreviations and acronyms.
  • Limit punctuation marks.
  • No more than 6-8 words per line
  • For bullet points, use the 6 x 6 Rule. One thought per line with no more than 6 words per line and no more than 6 lines per slide
  • Use dark text on light background or light text on dark background. However, dark backgrounds sometimes make it difficult for some people to read the text.
  • Do not use all caps except for titles.
  • Put repeating elements (like page numbers) in the same location on each page of a multi-page document.
  •  To test the font, stand six feet from the monitor and see if you can read the slide.

Design and Graphical Images

  • Use design templates.
  • Standardize position, colors, and styles.
  • Include only necessary information.
  • Limit the information to essentials.
  • Content should be self-evident
  • Use colors that contrast and compliment.
  • Too may slides can lose your audience.
  • Keep the background consistent and subtle.
  • Limit the number of transitions used. It is often better to use only one so the audience knows what to expect.
  • Use a single style of dingbat for bullets throughout the page.
  • Use the same graphical rule at the top of all pages in a multi-page document.
  • Use one or two large images rather than several small images.
  • Prioritize images instead of a barrage of images for competing attention.
  • Make images all the same size.
  • Use the same border.
  • Arrange images vertically or horizontally.
  • Use only enough text when using charts or graphical images to explain the chart or graph and clearly label the image.
  • Keep the design clean and uncluttered. Leave empty space around the text and graphical images.
  • Use quality clipart and use it sparingly. A graphical image should relate to and enhance the topic of the slide.
  • Try to use the same style graphical image throughout the presentation (e.g., cartoon, photographs)
  • Limit the number of graphical images on each slide.
  • Repetition of an image reinforces the message. Tie the number of copies of an image to the numbers in your text.
  • Resize, recolor, reverse to turn one image into many. Use duplicates of varying sizes, colors, and orientations to multiply the usefulness of a single clip art image.
  • Make a single image stand out with dramatic contrast. Use color to make a dramatic change to a single copy of your clip art.
  • Check all images on a projection screen before the actual presentation.
  • Avoid flashy images and noisy animation effects unless it relates directly to the slide.
  • Limit the number of colors on a single screen.
  • Bright colors make small objects and thin lines stand out. However, some vibrant colors are difficult to read when projected.
  • Use no more than four colors on one chart.
  • Check all colors on a projection screen before the actual presentation. Colors may project differently than what appears on the monitor.

General Presentation

  • Plan carefully.
  • Do your research.
  • Know your audience.
  • Time your presentation.
  • Speak comfortably and clearly.
  • Check the spelling and grammar.
  • Do not read the presentation. Practice the presentation so you can speak from bullet points. The text should be a cue for the presenter rather than a message for the viewer.
  • Give a brief overview at the start. Then present the information. Finally review important points.
  • It is often more effective to have bulleted points appear one at a time so the audience listens to the presenter rather than reading the screen.
  • Use a wireless mouse or pick up the wired mouse so you can move around as you speak.
  • If sound effects are used, wait until the sound has finished to speak.
  • If the content is complex, print the slides so the audience can take notes.
  • Do not turn your back on the audience. Try to position the monitor so you can speak from it.

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9 Tips for Making Beautiful PowerPoint Presentations

9 Tips for Making Beautiful PowerPoint Presentations

Ready to craft a beautiful powerpoint presentation these nine powerpoint layout ideas will help anyone create effective, compelling slides..

How many times have you sat through a poorly designed business presentation that was dull, cluttered, and distracting? Probably way too many. Even though we all loathe a boring presentation, when it comes time to make our own, do we really do any better?

The good news is you don’t have to be a professional designer to make professional presentations. We’ve put together a few simple guidelines you can follow to create a beautifully assembled deck.

We’ll walk you through some slide design tips, show you some tricks to maximize your PowerPoint skills, and give you everything you need to look really good next time you’re up in front of a crowd.

And, while PowerPoint remains one of the biggest names in presentation software, many of these design elements and principles work in Google Slides as well.

Let’s dive right in and make sure your audience isn’t yawning through your entire presentation.

1. Use Layout to Your Advantage

Layout is one of the most powerful visual elements in design, and it’s a simple, effective way to control the flow and visual hierarchy of information.

For example, most Western languages read left to right, top to bottom. Knowing this natural reading order, you can direct people’s eyes in a deliberate way to certain key parts of a slide that you want to emphasize.

You can also guide your audience with simple tweaks to the layout. Use text size and alternating fonts or colors to distinguish headlines from body text.

Placement also matters. There are many unorthodox ways to structure a slide, but most audience members will have to take a few beats to organize the information in their head—that’s precious time better spent listening to your delivery and retaining information.

Try to structure your slides more like this:

Presentation slide with headline template and beach images on the right

And not like this:

Presentation slide with headline template and beach images on the left

Layout is one of the trickier PowerPoint design concepts to master, which is why we have these free PowerPoint templates already laid out for you. Use them as a jumping off point for your own presentation, or use them wholesale!

Presentation templates can give you a huge leg up as you start working on your design.

2. No Sentences

This is one of the most critical slide design tips. Slides are simplified, visual notecards that capture and reinforce main ideas, not complete thoughts.

As the speaker, you should be delivering most of the content and information, not putting it all on the slides for everyone to read (and probably ignore). If your audience is reading your presentation instead of listening to you deliver it, your message has lost its effectiveness.

Pare down your core message and use keywords to convey it. Try to avoid complete sentences unless you’re quoting someone or something.

Stick with this:

Presentation template with bullet points

And avoid this:

Presentation template with paragraphs

3. Follow the 6×6 Rule

One of the cardinal sins of a bad PowerPoint is cramming too many details and ideas on one slide, which makes it difficult for people to retain information. Leaving lots of “white space” on a slide helps people focus on your key points.

Try using the 6×6 rule to keep your content concise and clean looking. The 6×6 rule means a maximum of six bullet points per slide and six words per bullet. In fact, some people even say you should never have more than six words per slide!

Just watch out for “orphans” (when the last word of a sentence/phrase spills over to the next line). This looks cluttered. Either fit it onto one line or add another word to the second line.

Red presentation slide with white text stating less is more

Slides should never have this much information:

Presentation slide with paragraphs and images

4. Keep the Colors Simple

Stick to simple light and dark colors and a defined color palette for visual consistency. Exceptionally bright text can cause eye fatigue, so use those colors sparingly. Dark text on a light background or light text on a dark background will work well. Also avoid intense gradients, which can make text hard to read.

If you’re presenting on behalf of your brand, check what your company’s brand guidelines are. Companies often have a primary brand color and a secondary brand color , and it’s a good idea to use them in your presentation to align with your company’s brand identity and style.

If you’re looking for color inspiration for your next presentation, check out our 101 Color Combinations , where you can browse tons of eye-catching color palettes curated by a pro. When you find the one you like, just type the corresponding color code into your presentation formatting tools.

Here are more of our favorite free color palettes for presentations:

  • 10 Color Palettes to Nail Your Next Presentation
  • 10 Energizing Sports Color Palettes for Branding and Marketing
  • 10 Vintage Color Palettes Inspired by the Decades

No matter what color palette or combination you choose, you want to keep the colors of your PowerPoint presentation simple and easy to read, like this:

Red presentation slide with white text stating keep the colors simple

Stay away from color combinations like this:

Gray presentation slide with black and neon green text examples

5. Use Sans-Serif Fonts

Traditionally, serif fonts (Times New Roman, Garamond, Bookman) are best for printed pages, and sans-serif fonts (Helvetica, Tahoma, Verdana) are easier to read on screens.

These are always safe choices, but if you’d like to add some more typographic personality , try exploring our roundup of the internet’s best free fonts . You’ll find everything from classic serifs and sans serifs to sophisticated modern fonts and splashy display fonts. Just keep legibility top of mind when you’re making your pick.

Try to stick with one font, or choose two at the most. Fonts have very different personalities and emotional impacts, so make sure your font matches the tone, purpose, and content of your presentation.

Presentation slide with various examples of fonts

6. Stick to 30pt Font or Larger

Many experts agree that your font size for a PowerPoint presentation should be at least 30pt. Sticking to this guideline ensures your text is readable. It also forces you, due to space limitations, to explain your message efficiently and include only the most important points. .

Red presentation slide with 30 point white text

7. Avoid Overstyling the Text

Three of the easiest and most effective ways to draw attention to text are:

  • A change in color

Our eyes are naturally drawn to things that stand out, but use these changes sparingly. Overstyling can make the slide look busy and distracting.

White presentation slide with black text and aerial view of a pool

8. Choose the Right Images

The images you choose for your presentation are perhaps as important as the message. You want images that not only support the message, but also elevate it—a rare accomplishment in the often dry world of PowerPoint.

But, what is the right image? We’ll be honest. There’s no direct answer to this conceptual, almost mystical subject, but we can break down some strategies for approaching image selection that will help you curate your next presentation.

The ideal presentation images are:

  • Inspirational

Ground view of palm trees and airplane flying over

These may seem like vague qualities, but the general idea is to go beyond the literal. Think about the symbols in an image and the story they tell. Think about the colors and composition in an image and the distinct mood they set for your presentation.

With this approach, you can get creative in your hunt for relatable, authentic, and inspirational images. Here are some more handy guidelines for choosing great images.

Illustrative, Not Generic

So, the slide in question is about collaborating as a team. Naturally, you look for images of people meeting in a boardroom, right?

While it’s perfectly fine to go super literal, sometimes these images fall flat—what’s literal doesn’t necessarily connect to your audience emotionally. Will they really respond to generic images of people who aren’t them meeting in a boardroom?

In the absence of a photo of your actual team—or any other image that directly illustrates the subject at hand—look for images of convincing realism and humanity that capture the idea of your message.

Doing so connects with viewers, allowing them to connect with your message.

Silhouettes of five men standing on a bridge on a foggy day

The image above can be interpreted in many ways. But, when we apply it to slide layout ideas about collaboration, the meaning is clear.

It doesn’t hurt that there’s a nice setting and good photography, to boot.

Supportive, Not Distracting

Now that we’ve told you to get creative with your image selection, the next lesson is to rein that in. While there are infinite choices of imagery out there, there’s a limit to what makes sense in your presentation.

Let’s say you’re giving an IT presentation to new employees. You might think that image of two dogs snuggling by a fire is relatable, authentic, and inspirational, but does it really say “data management” to your audience?

To find the best supporting images, try searching terms on the periphery of your actual message. You’ll find images that complement your message rather than distract from it.

In the IT presentation example, instead of “data connections” or another literal term, try the closely related “traffic” or “connectivity.” This will bring up images outside of tech, but relative to the idea of how things move.

Aerial view of a busy highway

Inspiring and Engaging

There’s a widespread misconception that business presentations are just about delivering information. Well, they’re not. In fact, a great presentation is inspirational. We don’t mean that your audience should be itching to paint a masterpiece when they’re done. In this case, inspiration is about engagement.

Is your audience asking themselves questions? Are they coming up with new ideas? Are they remembering key information to tap into later? You’ll drive a lot of this engagement with your actual delivery, but unexpected images can play a role, as well.

When you use more abstract or aspirational images, your audience will have room to make their own connections. This not only means they’re paying attention, but they’re also engaging with and retaining your message.

To find the right abstract or unconventional imagery, search terms related to the tone of the presentation. This may include images with different perspectives like overhead shots and aerials, long exposures taken over a period of time, nature photos , colorful markets , and so on.

Aerial view of a cargo ship

The big idea here is akin to including an image of your adorable dog making a goofy face at the end of an earnings meeting. It leaves an audience with a good, human feeling after you just packed their brains with data.

Use that concept of pleasant surprise when you’re selecting images for your presentation.

9. Editing PowerPoint Images

Setting appropriate image resolution in powerpoint.

Though you can drag-and-drop images into PowerPoint, you can control the resolution displayed within the file. All of your PowerPoint slide layout ideas should get the same treatment to be equal in size.

Simply click File > Compress Pictures in the main application menu.

Screenshot of how to compress a picture

If your presentation file is big and will only be viewed online, you can take it down to On-screen , then check the Apply to: All pictures in this file , and rest assured the quality will be uniform.

Screenshot of how to compress an image

This resolution is probably fine for proofing over email, but too low for your presentation layout ideas. For higher res in printed form, try the Print setting, which at 220 PPI is extremely good quality.

For large-screens such as projection, use the HD setting, since enlarging to that scale will show any deficiencies in resolution. Low resolution can not only distract from the message, but it looks low-quality and that reflects on the presenter.

If size is no issue for you, use High Fidelity (maximum PPI), and only reduce if the file size gives your computer problems.

Screenshot of compression options for your image

The image quality really begins when you add the images to the presentation file. Use the highest quality images you can, then let PowerPoint scale the resolution down for you, reducing the excess when set to HD or lower.

Resizing, Editing, and Adding Effects to Images in PowerPoint

PowerPoint comes with an arsenal of tools to work with your images. When a picture is selected, the confusingly named Picture Format menu is activated in the top menu bar, and Format Picture is opened on the right side of the app window.

Editing a PowerPoint slide with an image of a businessman walking up stairs

In the Format Picture menu (on the right) are four sections, and each of these sections expand to show their options by clicking the arrows by the name:

  • Fill & Line (paint bucket icon): Contains options for the box’s colors, patterns, gradients, and background fills, along with options for its outline.
  • Effects (pentagon icon): Contains Shadow, Reflection, Glow, Soft Edges, 3-D Format and Rotation, and Artistic Effects.
  • Size & Properties (dimensional icon): Size, Position, and Text Box allow you to control the physical size and placement of the picture or text boxes.
  • Picture (mountain icon): Picture Corrections, Colors, and Transparency give you control over how the image looks. Under Crop, you can change the size of the box containing the picture, instead of the entire picture itself as in Size & Properties above.

The menu at the top is more expansive, containing menu presets for Corrections, Color, Effects, Animation, and a lot more. This section is where you can crop more precisely than just choosing the dimensions from the Picture pane on the right.

Cropping Images in PowerPoint

The simple way to crop an image is to use the Picture pane under the Format Picture menu on the right side of the window. Use the Picture Position controls to move the picture inside its box, or use the Crop position controls to manipulate the box’s dimensions.

Screenshot of picture format options

To exert more advanced control, or use special shapes, select the picture you want to crop, then click the Picture Format in the top menu to activate it.

Screenshot of how to crop an image

Hit the Crop button, then use the controls on the picture’s box to size by eye. Or, click the arrow to show more options, including changing the shape of the box (for more creative looks) and using preset aspect ratios for a more uniform presentation of images.

Screenshot of how to change the shape of an image

The next time you design a PowerPoint presentation, remember that simplicity is key and less is more. By adopting these simple slide design tips, you’ll deliver a clear, powerful visual message to your audience.

If you want to go with a PowerPoint alternative instead, you can use Shutterstock Create to easily craft convincing, engaging, and informative presentations.

With many presentation template designs, you’ll be sure to find something that is a perfect fit for your next corporate presentation. You can download your designs as a .pdf file and import them into both PowerPoint and Google Slides presentation decks.

Take Your PowerPoint Presentation to the Next Level with Shutterstock Flex

Need authentic, eye-catching photography to form the foundation of your PowerPoint presentation? We’ve got you covered.

With Shutterstock Flex, you’ll have all-in-one access to our massive library, plus the FLEXibility you need to select the perfect mix of assets every time.

License this cover image via F8 studio and Ryan DeBerardinis .

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Center for Teaching

Making better powerpoint presentations.

Print Output

  • Baddeley and Hitch’s model of working memory.
  • Research about course preferences available PowerPoint
  • Resources for make better Bauer talking

Bibliography

We have all experienced the pain of a bad Slide presentation. And also is we promise ourselves never to make the same mistakes, we can still collapse prey up common designer pitfalls.  The good featured is that your PowerPoint presentation doesn’t have to be ordinary. By keeping in brains a few guidelines, your kursraum presentations can standard above the crowd! How To Make an Good Byer Presentation (With Tips) | Indeed ...

“It is mild to dismiss design – to relegate it to pure ornament, the prettifying of places both gegenstand into cloaking their banality. But that the a serious misinterpreting of what design is and why is matters.” Daniel Pink

Baddeley and Hitch’s model of running memory.

An framework that can live useful when making plan decisions about the PowerPoint slither design is Baddeley plus Hitch’s model is working memory .

designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

Because illustrated in the diagram above, the Central Executive coordinates the work of three systems by how of information we hear, see, press store into working memory.

The Phonological Loops deals with any auditory data. Students in one classroom are potentially heed to an variety of things: the instructor, questions for their peers, sound effects or voice from the PowerPoint presentation, and their own “inner voice.”

The Visuo-Spatial Sketchpad deals with request were see. This involves such aspects as print, color, size, open with objects, also their movement. For students this want include: the choose furthermore color starting sources, the relationship between images furthermore print on the screen, the motion path of text animation real slide transitions, as well as any hand gestures, facial expressions, or classroom demonstrations made by the instructor.

The Episodic Buffer integrates the information across these sensory domains and connects with long-term memory. All of these elements are being deposited into ampere holding tank labeled the “episodic buffer.” Which buffer has a limited capacity and can become “overloaded” thereby, setting limits about how lots general students can take in at once.

Research about student preferences for PowerPoint

Laura Edelman and Kathleen Harring from Muhlenberg College , Allentown, Central have developed an approach to Output design using Baddeley and Hitch’s model. During to course of their work, they conducted ampere survey regarding student at the college asking what they loved and didn’t like about their professor’s PowerPoint presentations. They explored the following:

Specific college don’t like info professors’ PowerPoint slides

  • Too many words on an slide
  • Movement (slide transitions either phrase animations)
  • Templates with too many colors

Characteristics pupils likes like with professors’ PowerPoint slides

  • Graphs increase understanding of content
  • Bulleted lists help them organise ideas
  • PowerPoint can help to structure talks
  • Verbal explanations of pictures/graphs help more than written education

According until Edelman and Harring, some conclusions from the search at Muhlenberg are is students learn more at:

  • materials is presented on little phrases rather than full paragraphs.
  • the professor talks about the information on the slide tend than having current read it on their own.
  • relevant pictures have used. Irrelevant cinema decrease teaching compared into PowerPoint slides with no picture
  • few take notes (if the professor is not talking). But if the professor is lecturing, note-taking and listening sinkt knowledge.
  • they are existing the PowerPoint transparency before the class.

Advice from Edelman and Harring on leveraging the working memory with PowerPoint:

  • Leverage the working memory by dividing the information between the visual and auditory modality.  Doing this slashes the likelihood of one system becoming excess. For instance, spoken words equipped pictures are better for pictures to edit, as integrating an image and narration takes less cognitive effort than integral an drawing and text.
  • Minimize the opportunity for distraction by removing each irrelevant material such as free, sound effects, animations, and key images.
  • Used simple cues to direct learners to important points or content. Using theme page, bolding, italics, or placing content in adenine underscored either shaded text box is all the is requirements to convey the importance is key ideas in your submission.
  • Don’t put every word them intend toward speak on respective PowerPoint slide. Instead, maintaining general displayed in short chunks which are easily read and appreciated.

Resources fork making better PowerPoint presentations

  • One of one mostly widely accessed websites regarding Presentation design is Garr Reynolds’ blog, Presentation Zen . In his blog entry:  “ What your Good PowerPoint Design? ” Reynolds details wherewith to keep the carriage design simple, yet not simplistic, also includes a few slide examples that he has ‘made-over’ to perform how to improve its readability and effectiveness. Him also includes patterns slides from his own presentation about Slide slide design.
  • Another presentation guru, David Paradi, author of “ The Visual Slide Revolutionized: Transforming Overloaded Body Slides for Compelling Presentations ” maintains a video podcast series called “ Think Exterior the Slide ” places they also demonstrates PowerPoint slide makeovers. Examples on that site are typically out the corporate perspective, but the processes of this index choices are made is still associated on higher professional. Paradi shall additionally developed a five step method, called KWICK , that can be used while one simple guide when designing Bauer presentations.
  • In the video clip below, Comedian Don McMillan talks about some of the common misuses by PowerPoint in his simple called “Life After Destruction by PowerPoint.”
  • This article from That Chronicle concerning High Education highlights a blog moderated by Microsoft’s Doug Thomas that compiles practice PowerPoint consultation gathered from presentation masters like Seth Godin , Guy Kawasaki , and Garr Reynolds .

Presenting to Win: The Kind on Telling Respective Story , by Jerry Weissman, Learner Hall, 2006

Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery , by Garr Reynolds, New Riders Press, 2008

Solving the Show Predicament: using digital press used effective communication , by Tom Bunzel , Que, 2006

The Cogitation Style of Power Point , by Edel R. Tufte, Graphics Von, 2003

The Graphical Slide Revolution: Transforming Overburdened Text Slides into Persuasive Presentations , by Dave Paradi, Communications Abilities Press, 2000

Why Most PowerPoint Presentations Suck: And How You Can Make Them Better , by Rick Altman, Harvest Books, 2007

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designing an effective powerpoint presentation quick guide

Purdue Online Writing Lab Purdue OWL® College of Liberal Arts

Part 3: Practical Guides

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Copyright ©1995-2018 by The Writing Lab & The OWL at Purdue and Purdue University. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, reproduced, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our terms and conditions of fair use.

This resource is enhanced by a PowerPoint file. If you have a Microsoft Account, you can view this file with   PowerPoint Online .

The goal of this presentation is to introduce you to the practical tasks involved in creating a PowerPoint project. There are always many methods with which to create PowerPoint presentations, and the ones covered in this document are some of the simplest.

IMAGES

  1. Quick Guide To Designing An Effective Powerpoint Presentation

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  2. How to make an effective PowerPoint presentation

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  4. 10 Tips for Creating More Effective PowerPoint Presentations

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  6. How to Make an Effective PowerPoint Presentation

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VIDEO

  1. Amazing PowerPoint presentation design tutorial #powerpoint #powerpointdesign #presentation

  2. POWERPOINT PRESENTATIONS DESIGNS LIKE AN EXPERT 1

  3. Tips in Creating an Effective PowerPoint Presentation

  4. Try this PowerPoint tutorial with your next presentation #powerpoint #powerpointdesign #design

  5. Make professional PowerPoint Presentation Slide.#powerpoint_presentation #microsoftpowerpoint

  6. Powerpoint Example

COMMENTS

  1. Designing an Effective PowerPoint Presentation: Quick Guide

    This powerpoint resource, broken up into four parts, provides an excellent overview of how to design effective powerpoint presentations. Media File: Designing an Effective PowerPoint Presentation: Quick Guide. This resource is enhanced by a PowerPoint file. If you have a Microsoft Account, you can view this file with PowerPoint Online

  2. Tips for creating and delivering an effective presentation

    Choose an appealing, consistent template or theme that is not too eye-catching. You don't want the background or design to detract from your message. See Combining colors in PowerPoint - Mistakes to avoid. For information about using themes, see Add color and design to my slides with themes. Use high contrast between background color and text ...

  3. 60 Effective PowerPoint Presentation Tips & Tricks (Giant List)

    Here are a handful of PowerPoint presentation tips and tricks to help you avoid missteps. 37. Stop With the Sound Effects. Sound effects are distracting and outdated. In most cases avoid it. Skip sound effects if you want to learn how to make your PowerPoint stand out without distractions. (Image source: Envato Elements.)

  4. 25 PowerPoint Presentation Tips For Good PPT Slides in 2022

    Get your main point into the presentation as early as possible (this avoids any risk of audience fatigue or attention span waning), then substantiate your point with facts, figures etc and then reiterate your point at the end in a 'Summary'. 2. Practice Makes Perfect. Also, don't forget to practice your presentation.

  5. PowerPoint 101: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

    Microsoft PowerPoint is a presentation design software that is part of Microsoft 365. This software allows you to design presentations by combining text, images, graphics, video, and animation on slides in a simple and intuitive way. Over time, PowerPoint has evolved and improved its accessibility to users.

  6. PDF Designing Effective PowerPoint Presentations

    The Assertion-Evidence Model of Slide Design. 1) Clearly assert the slide's main idea in a complete sentence. a. Appears at the top of the slide. b. Contains one distinct point. c. Flows logically from previous slide. 2) Reinforce the argument with visual evidence. a.

  7. How to Make Your PowerPoint Presentation Design Better

    A well-designed PowerPoint uses design principles to communicate. That's what makes an effective PowerPoint design. It looks good. It works well. It connects to the material. Consider how to design a PowerPoint presentation from this perspective. Check out these design trends. They each use PowerPoint design principles in their own, strategic ...

  8. 8 Tips to Make the Best PowerPoint Presentations

    A good presentation needs two fonts: a serif and sans-serif. Use one for the headlines and one for body text, lists, and the like. Keep it simple. Veranda, Helvetica, Arial, and even Times New Roman are safe choices. Stick with the classics and it's hard to botch this one too badly.

  9. 17 PowerPoint Presentation Tips to Make More Creative Slideshows

    Getting Started. 1. Open PowerPoint and click 'New.'. If a page with templates doesn't automatically open, go to the top left pane of your screen and click New. If you've already created a presentation, select Open then double-click the icon to open the existing file. Image Source.

  10. How to Design a PowerPoint: A Visual Guide to Making Slides with Impact

    To start designing excellent slide decks right away, follow my quick guide to designing better PowerPoints right after this paragraph. To get a whole workshop's worth of information about how to design better slides, scroll below. 🙂 . Click image to enlarge. The question is, does designing a nice PowerPoint actually matter?

  11. Basic tasks for creating a PowerPoint presentation

    Select the text. Under Drawing Tools, choose Format. Do one of the following: To change the color of your text, choose Text Fill, and then choose a color. To change the outline color of your text, choose Text Outline, and then choose a color. To apply a shadow, reflection, glow, bevel, 3-D rotation, a transform, choose Text Effects, and then ...

  12. 45 Tips To Speed Up Your PowerPoint Design Workflow

    If you want to frame your pictures in fun, unique shapes, you can easily do so in PowerPoint. First, you need to insert the shape you want. Then click on the shape again to open up the Shape Format tab. In the Shape Styles group, you'll see an option for Shape Fill. Click Shape Fill and then Picture.

  13. How to Make an Effective Presentation (Guide, Tips & Examples)

    To make your text stand out, you need to use contrasting colors. For example, you can make the background black and your text a bright shade of green to make it stand out, or vice versa. Just be sure that your text is easily readable for your audience. 22. Proofread and polish your presentation.

  14. 10 Pro PPT Tips: PowerPoint Design Ideas

    Hopefully, these PPT design tips will help you craft better and more effective presentations in the future. Learning new tips and tricks is part of the design process. So keep learning and keep experimenting with new ideas. Also, check out our complete guide to using PowerPoint templates to learn more about presentation design. PowerPoint Templates

  15. PDF Designing an Effective PowerPoint: Quick Guide

    Designing an Effective PowerPoint: Quick Guide. The Rhetorical Situation When designing a PowerPoint, consider the project's Topic Purpose Audience Presentation length. ... Chose an appropriate theme for your presentation in the Design tab or browse the Microsoft Office website for more themes. Transitions and Animations

  16. Creating Effective PowerPoint® Presentations

    A Resource to Share with Students By Chrissine Rios, Writing Tutor Microsoft® PowerPoint® is a tool for creating dynamic oral presentations. This tutorial introduces the elements of a PowerPoint® presentation and helps you get started by illustrating the steps for creating slides and the features that make a presentation effective. ELEMENTS OF A POWERPOINT® PRESENTATION…

  17. Making Better PowerPoint Presentations

    Advice from Edelman and Harring on leveraging the working memory with PowerPoint: Leverage the working memory by dividing the information between the visual and auditory modality. Doing this reduces the likelihood of one system becoming overloaded. For instance, spoken words with pictures are better than pictures with text, as integrating an ...

  18. PowerPoint Guidelines to Design Effective Presentations + Video

    1. Galaxi PowerPoint Presentation Template. The Galaxi PowerPoint template has a clean and modern design. It's versatile enough to use for all kinds of presentations and comes with five premade color schemes. The template comes with 30 premade slides based on master slides, image placeholders, and editable shapes. 2.

  19. Tips for Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations

    Tips for Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations. Use the slide master feature to create a consistent and simple design template. It is fine to vary the content presentation (bulleted list, two-column text, text and image, etc.), but be consistent with other elements such as font, colors and background. Simplify and limit the number of words ...

  20. 9 Tips for Making Beautiful PowerPoint Presentations

    Stick with this: And avoid this: 3. Follow the 6×6 Rule. One of the cardinal sins of a bad PowerPoint is cramming too many details and ideas on one slide, which makes it difficult for people to retain information. Leaving lots of "white space" on a slide helps people focus on your key points.

  21. Making Better PowerPoint Presentations

    Print Version Baddeley and Hitch's model of working memory. Research about grad preferences for PowerPoint Resources for making prefer PowerPoint presentations Bibliography We have all experiences the pain of a bad PowerPoint video. And even the we promise ourselves never to make the same mistakes, we can still fall loot to common design pitfalls. The...

  22. Quick Guide To Designing An Effective Powerpoint Presentation

    Quick Guide to Designing an Effective Powerpoint Presentation - Free download as Powerpoint Presentation (.ppt), PDF File (.pdf), Text File (.txt) or view presentation slides online. Guía rápida para elaborar, diseñar presentaciones efectivas en power point

  23. Practical Guides

    Part 3: Practical Guides. The goal of this presentation is to introduce you to the practical tasks involved in creating a PowerPoint project. There are always many methods with which to create PowerPoint presentations, and the ones covered in this document are some of the simplest.

  24. ScienceDirect

    ScienceDirect