Public speaking, presenting, whatever you want to call it can be terrifying but if you get your slides right not only will you feel way more confident delivering your presentation but your audience will be grateful too. Here’s our do’s and don’ts you should follow when creating your slides.
- Don’t use a stock template. Stock templates are generic, boring and overused. Invest some time into building your own PowerPoint template. It’ll give your presentations a bespoke feel that off-the-shelf templates can’t match.
- Turn up the contrast. If you’re placing text over an image or colored background, make sure it’s readable. If not, adjust the colors or contrast until it is.
- Choose complimenting colours. You’re not trying to complete the rainbow: three or four complementary colors should is plenty.
- Choose colors that stand out. There’s no need to deploy the neon pink, but make sure your colors stand out. Avoid using competing colors in bar charts and don’t place yellow or light blue against a white background.
- Slow down on the transitions. Transitions exist to help your presentation flow and enhance it, not overload it. Less is more.
- Go easy on the text. If your audience has to read and listen to you at the same time, one of the two is going to be ignored. Your slides should be used to convey key points only.
- Ditch the bullets. Ok maybe they’re ok for highlighting key points but if you’re going to deploy them for every line of text on every slide, what’s the point in having them at all?
- Left is best. Left alignment looks best in presentations; avoid centering body text.
- Use sans serif. For body text, sans serif fonts are more legible. Save the serifs for titles and headers if you must, but don’t go overboard – you won’t need more than two or three fonts throughout your presentation.
- Size fonts appropriately. The size of your font will naturally affect its legibility, but you also need to think about the ratio between your header and body text. Bear in mind the size of the room you’ll be presenting in. Will those at the back be able to read it?
- Don’t chop and change. Be consistent with your fonts. Whatever font you choose for your headers and body text should be the same throughout.
- Use bold and italics in moderation. You can highlight key words and phrases to draw your audience’s attention to key concepts but highlighting entire sentences just looks bad.
- Avoid cliched stock photos. Stock photos are great but cheesy, cliched ones are worse than PowerPoint clipart. Sites like Unsplash, Pexels and Death to the Stock Photo can provide a welcomed alternative to the traditional stock photo sites.
- One image per page. Remember it’s not a photo album it’s a presentation so stick to one image per page (that doesn’t mean one image on EVERY page)
- Images aren’t just photographs. Charts, arrows, completion bars and other graphics can all help to enhance your presentation when used effectively.
- We all love a filter. If you have the time you could apply the same filter to all of your images. This will give your presentation a harmonious and professional sheen. If you’re not a Photoshop user, you can use web-based software such as Canva to batch apply filters.
So there you have it. Follow these tips when creating your slides and your presentation will be so beautiful it’ll belong in a gallery (well maybe we’re exaggerating a touch). Now you’ve just got to deliver it. But that’s all on you.
James Robinson is the Marketing Manager for Buffalo 7, the UK’s leading PowerPoint presentation design agency. Buffalo 7 works with names including UEFA Champions League, Dell, Red Bull, Facebook and the BBC.