Did you know that you can use infographic-inspired techniques to capture audiences’ attention in your PowerPoint slide design? Amping up the visual content of your presentation design beyond default PowerPoint themes allows viewers to focus on and best understand the content. From the basics to the lesser-known techniques, let’s take a look at key strategies that can take your presentation from boring (or worse) to engaging.
We asked our in-house team of visual communication designers:
What’s one thing you wish everyone knew about great presentation design?
Here’s what we learned.
1. Preserve White Space
“Less is more,” Lead Visual Designer Windie Chao says. “White space is crucial for visual hierarchy.” When creating presentation slides, Windie aims to reduce the amount of text on each slide, relying on visuals with a balance of negative space for a more impactful design — one that’s neither a reading assignment nor a collage.
Strong presentation design balances text and visuals. During a presentation, your viewer should be focused on listening to you. In that scenario, the slides are a supplement to aid understanding — not the primary means of information delivery. This advice is important for creating impactful PowerPoint slide designs, of course. But it’s also useful across all visual communication collateral. Quality visual content should lean on visuals to deliver the message. Ideally, your viewer could understand the subject of your content even if the text was removed.
Lead Visual Designer Windie Chao
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Add More Slides to Your PowerPoint Design
“Sequencing and pacing is super important,” says Lead Visual Designer Blake Quackenbush. He advises clients that trying to squeeze too much content into any one slide — or moving too quickly through the information during your presentation — will overload the viewer. Instead, “information needs to be bite-sized, and presented in a way that it builds a story/narrative.”
One way to build and pace your narrative is to take a single crowded slide and disperse its information across multiple slides. If you’re used to infographic design, this may feel counterintuitive — related information should stay close, right? But in presentation design, a new slide doesn’t equal a new section. It’s more than okay to spread related information across more than 1 slide in your PowerPoint design. In fact, this design tactic could be the key to pacing your slides correctly, letting your viewer focus on and absorb the message as it builds.
Lead Visual Designer Blake Quackenbush
3. Match Your Aesthetic to Your Message
When looking for the right colors, fonts, and imagery to use for your slide deck design, you’ll probably start in 1 of 2 places:
- Whatever the default PowerPoint theme is (hey, you’re busy, right?)
- Your brand guidelines
Of the 2, we’d strongly suggest starting with your brand guidelines instead of with whatever PowerPoint throws your way. But would you believe that even your brand guidelines might not be the best choice for your presentation?
Yes, really! If your presentation design is part of a sub-brand, introducing a new product or service, or in any way distinct from your organization’s brand, then you may want to select unique colors, fonts, and imagery that set the design apart from your brand as a whole.
Visual Designer Megan Popovich suggests that you consider your font choices carefully. “Selecting the fonts and font attributes that convey the right message is important,” she advises. Additionally, pay attention to the hierarchy of the fonts you use. One treatment should be used specifically for your headers, another solely for body copy, etc.
This subtle visual cue establishes patterns, allowing your audience to subconsciously prioritize the content they’re seeing on each slide. Change up these patterns, and you risk distracting the viewer from the message at hand.
Visual Designer Megan Popovich
The Key to Great Presentation Design? Expertise.
Reading up on best practices is no substitute for hands-on experience. If you’re a visual designer, jump into PowerPoint and put your slide design knowledge into practice! On the other hand, if you’re looking for a visual content partner to produce presentation designs and other collateral, ask to see relevant examples that show their experience. The difference will be worth it.