Sticky Presentations bite size article: Design slides to make your presentation great

Design slides to make your presentation a great presentation

Mar 03, 2019

Very few were born to be great presenters. Most of us will need to learn the hard way. Some might completely shy away from presenting all together. Still, being able to present well is an advantage for any individual and especially important if we hold key positions in an organisation.

So, how do we design the perfect slide?

There are many variables that make the presentation a great presentation. One of which is how you design your slides. The way you choose your images, your text style and size, the position of your content, choice of colours, and most importantly the selection of the key message.

In this story, I will discuss a few slide design ideas that you can use when you design your next presentation slide deck. Some of these are content design and some are aesthetics (visual design). They both play a major part of the slide design.

Before you work on your slide content, always remember the following 3 key fundamentals of slide design.

  1. Design your slides for seeing, not for reading;
  2. Make contents on your presentation slides as big as possible;
  3. If your audience cannot see what you put on your slide, it's as good as not showing them anything.

I am sure you have seen many presentation slides that contain too much information. The text sizes were very small and they were difficult to read from where you were seated. Sometimes there were images on the slide, but those images were too small for you to figure out what they are.

Texts, images, numbers, diagrams, etc. Make them big and easy to see from far. When information on your slides are easy to see and understand, your audience will most likely accept what you are sharing in your presentation. Having big texts, big images, big charts, big numbers, etc., will also mean that you will end up having more slides in your presentation deck. Don't worry about having more slides. It's a good thing.

If you have developed your storyline and organised your thoughts based on the 3 key fundamentals above, then it should be quite easy for you to translate that to appropriate high-impact slide formats.

Appropriate high-impact slide formats? What are these? Well, we have seen too many presentation slides using the template formats of PowerPoint. The standard PowerPoint template formats become boring and not at all interesting. Title at the top of the slide, followed by text contents in bullet-points, slide after slide.

What we are going to do is to break away from the standard PowerPoint template formats and build custom formats, starting with a blank slide, still applying the 3 key slide design fundamentals above, and taking into consideration how we want to show each set of information on the slide.

Slide idea #1

The slide title doesn't always have to be at the top of the slide

The slide title or the key message can be placed at the middle of the slide. By placing the key message in the middle of the slide we create the focus point at the center of the slide where key information can be seen easily from afar. We then apply a large font size to make the key message prominent.

Related information can then be placed strategically surrounding the key message. These related messages should be as short as possible and can be visually connected to the key message using block arrows. The whole idea is to break away from bullet-points texts and make your slides more visual.

Slide idea #2

Use high-resolution images and expand images to fill the whole slide

It is always good to use images to engage your audiences. Choosing appropriate images that accurately represent the content is important. When using images, always use high-resolution images. High-resolution images are sharp and easy on the eyes.

The image will be even more exciting if you expand the image to fill the whole slide. Seeing the images from edge to edge on your presentation slides make it comes to alive. Just like we all love mobile phones with large screens that extend to its edges.

Slide idea #3

Boxed up the key message for better visibility

Sometimes the key message that sits on your slide doesn't seem to be quite visible or have enough prominence. To increase the visibility, put a box behind the key message text.

This can be easily drawn in PowerPoint and Keynote software with the rectangle (or rounded rectangle) shape tool. This technique works all the time, especially when the key message sits on a busy image.

Slide idea #4

If it's important, make it really BIG

If you have a very important message, may it be a number or some words, position them in the middle of the slide and apply a really large font size to it. Shout it out! Make the text or number stand out among all other things.

This will inject excitement into your presentation giving it a variety of visual impact. You may also include a simple image that resonates with your message for added impact.

Slide idea #5

Arrange multiple images neatly on the slide

It is good practice not to have too many images on a single slide. However, if you must have multiple related images on a single slide, it would be wise to arrange them neatly on the slide.

Leaving a narrow gap to separate each image will keep each image clearly defined. The slide title or a key message can be positioned in the center or at the top of the slide if required.

There are many exciting ideas that we can adapt to ensure professional looking slides that will help us deliver great presentations. It might need some practice for a start if you have always been building your slides from the standard PowerPoint templates, and have not been exposed to high-impact slide designs.

Paying attention to how slide content is designed, laid out, and positioned on the slide is important. A good design gives your slide content focus, makes it easy for the audience to understand, and helps the presenter delivers his message effectively.

The author, ANG Tian Teck is a coach, trainer, and speaker, specialising in inspiring organisations and business leaders to deliver high impact presentations. He has coached, trained, and infected over 10,000 individuals across the region with his Amazing Sticky Presentations approach. Tian Teck is also the author of two books, Sticky Presentations, and Spinning I.D.E.A.S.

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