Visual strategy: How to Improve Presentations with Good Design

By May 9, 2016 November 25th, 2019 Presentation & Slide Deck Design
Visual strategy: improving presentations

When giving a presentation, quality content is paramount. But what else goes into it? This post will walk through the process of using visuals to enhance your presentation — more specifically, how implementing a sound visual strategy to your presentations can positively affect how your audience receives your information and message.

Improving presentations with visual strategy

Using Photos

Avoid distracting images (or “fluff” as some call it). The old adage “a picture is worth a thousand words” makes a lot of sense when looking to condense information to fit a short-form format. Photos are a common go-to method to help visually convey information, but a photo that provides no relevant meaning has the potential to distract viewers away from your message. With this in mind, choose wisely.

Tip 1: Cut the fluff and say more with less. If your photo doesn’t add anything to the main message it can probably be removed without affecting the content. It’s better to have a few strong images rather than a handful of fluff images.

Tip 2: Quality matters: don’t cut corners when looking for photos. Photos have the ability to communicate a lot more information than text, so how will a blurry photo impact your message? Stock photos can be great to use but sometimes they can feel too commercial or too informal, which might sit awkwardly with the rest of your content. Here are some questions to consider:

      • Does the photo have a decent resolution? Is it pixelated or blurry?
      • Are the colors properly white balanced?
      • A mix of stock and custom photos can clash. How does each photo look compared with the other photos in the presentation? 
Visual strategy: improving presentations

Cohesive Design

The cohesiveness of your presentation is important to its success. The visual aids you use should flow consistently throughout. Failure to properly structure a consistent design can give the impression of a lack of credibility and attention to detail — the opposite of what your audience and potential business prospects will want in a reliable resource. You do not have to make your design extravagant by any means, but a cohesive set of logos, icons, or colors throughout the presentation will pull everything together.

Tip 1: Always start with your brand’s guidelines. Your business should have a set of rules to follow when creating a public document, asset, or presentation. This will make sure everything from the font to the color scheme is in line with your brand, eliminating extra time spent choosing a proper design aesthetic at the start of each project.

Tip 2: Be consistent. This is especially important if you are not working from brand guidelines (as noted in the previous tip). For example, it’s okay to use bolded font or capital lettering to indicate points of significance, but make sure it’s done with a purpose. Having a range of font sizes can negatively impact how your audience interprets key elements. Some items to consider:  

      • Are all the font treatments the same relative size throughout?
      • If you are using stock illustrations, will the art style clash with the rest of your content?
      • Do you have a color scheme? If so, is it incorporated evenly throughout the presentation?
visual strategy simple design

Simplicity is Key

While the real meat of a presentation is the content, design is a great tool to help convey the information. It can be challenging to cover a large amount of material in a short period of time, so choose an efficient, effective layout. Reduce the amount of information and practice clean design to create a successful presentation.

Tip 1: Keep the theme of the overall design simple. Presentation slides should only contain around 2-3 stats or bits of information each, and your design should reflect something that also embodies simplicity, to avoid distracting from the message. This is particularly important if you using graphs and charts. A strong informative design doesn’t always need to be intricate.

Tip 2: Make sure the illustrations are easily understood. Logos, icons, and illustrations aren’t just there for show; they should all help support your content by visually communicating the main point of the message. A good litmus test for the effectiveness of an illustration is that the picture should be able to communicate the main point without the use of text.

Having a sound visual strategy will better engage audiences and convey your message with more more clarity. If you have any suggestions regarding these tips, we’d love to hear them in the comments or contact us here.

Eric Tra

Author Eric Tra

Eric Tra is the marketing director at Killer Visual Strategies. Originally from Spokane, Washington, Eric received degrees in marketing and fine art from Gonzaga University. After graduating, he moved to Seattle with the hopes of of pursuing a career in the city’s thriving tech community. Since earning a position at Killer Visual Strategies at the beginning of 2013, he has been at the forefront of all marketing activities within the company, including content strategy, lead generation, and social media management. Some of Eric’s other strengths in the office are geared toward internal project management; he currently leads the development of content pieces such as blog posts, ebooks, and more.

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