Here’s five top tips to creating great presentations. In this free blog and video, I discuss design, accessibility, content, animations, and rehearsal. All this will help you deliver much better PowerPoint presentations to your audience, be it prospective customers, colleagues, and/or managers. I also include the slidedeck as a bespoke MS PowerPoint template should you simply want a head start!
One minute of presentation needs one hour of preparation.Steve Jobs
Watch my video below or read on for a written explanation and the template used…
1. Simple, Sleek Slide Design
The first thing you might once you have an idea for a presentation is start drafting a design. A simple yet sleek design is the first step to engaging your audience; or at least not disengaging them!
In my PowerPoint template below, I’ve created this simple design from scratch. That’s because I find the ready-made Microsoft templates either don’t suit what I need, or very restrictive in what you can amend. I’d rather spend the time creating my own bespoke, simple designs without the text, shape, and colour constraints!
Here’s some more pointers on good practice in PowerPoint design:
- Be consistent: Ensure there is congruence between the style of your title slide to the main slidedeck. Once you’ve created something you like in the main set, simply right click and ‘duplicate’ the slide for as many times as you need.
- Avoid complexity: Keep shapes and colour combinations simple. If in doubt, leave out things like colour fill gradients for shapes and slide backgrounds.
- Colour combinations: Use colour combinations in keeping with your brand. Avoid too many on one slide and consider simple design tricks like use of the colour wheel to your advantage; here’s a great colour design tool by Adobe that may help!
- Images create big file sizes: Be aware that inserting images can slow down your presentation by increasing file size. Be sure to crop and compress them once inserted, via the ‘Picture Format’ options in the Ribbon.
- Content is king: A snazzy slide does not make up for clear and meaningful content!
You might also want to create your own simple and stylish buttons, shapes, and icons in your slidedeck. If so, then you may find my ‘How to make buttons and icons in PowerPoint‘ explainer and template helpful!
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.Albert Einstein
2. Accessibility & Inclusion
Thinking about accessibility is an essential part of design. By accessibility and inclusion, I mean ensuring your presentation remains just as engaging for those with dyslexia, colour-blindness, or other conditions. Practicing these simple steps will also make your PowerPoint slides more appealing to everyone!
- Use big text: The bigger and more legible the text, the better. Learning and practicing how to communicate your key points with brevity will help. A bit like how I precede each bullet point here with just a few words.
- Black text on white background: Black text on a white background is the most legible combination for most people. Or the next best thing is dark text on light background, or vice-versa. A terrible example of a text and colour combination is shown below!
- Plain English: Say things as simply as possible, try to avoid (or define) any acronyms and jargon.
Avoid garish colour combinations, it’s hard to read and looks like a lame 80s video game!
3. Less is More
Linked to design and accessibility, less is more. Be it text, shapes, colours or animations, the less ‘busy’ your slidedeck, the better. Here’s some key pointers I cover in the video and template provided:
- Avoid slide overload: There’s nothing worse than seeing a lot of detail on a slide. There’s not a ration on the number of slides you can use, so if the information is essential, try chunking it up and spreading across multiple slides.
- Use text sparingly: Text should be minimal. It’s there to summarise your key messages and prompt you to actually say them (see tip 5!). It is not there to simply regurgitate what you’re saying, everyone hates hearing people blandly read off slides. If you need more text, for example a long quote that you want to say verbatim, relegate it to your speaker notes. If really essential, maybe you should be compiling a written document to accompany (or replace?) your presentation?
- Simplicity in design: This theme of ‘KISS’ (Keep It Simple, Stupid!) applies throughout your design, including animations, which we cover next…
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.Leonardo da Vinci
4. Avoid Over-Animation
Whether you’re using animations to introduce text and images on your slides, or using transitions between slides, keep it subtle. This ensures your content remains professional, while also appearing dynamic to keep interest and attention.
Conversely, going overboard on your animations looks unprofessional, and frankly a bit lame. I mention in the video how seeing over-animated slides reminds me of the film ‘Freddy Got Fingered’. Below is a relevant quote and clip from that film (the sausages scene), in case you’re interested in the funny obscenity!
So if using animations to introduce text, stick to the ones labelled ‘subtle’. For example, ‘zoom’ or ‘fade’. Avoid the garish ones like ‘pinwheel’. Similarly for the transitions between slides, for example I quite like the ‘morph’ option.
Oh, look honey, our boy’s a genius! He’s rigged a pulley system so he can eat sausage and work on his stupid drawings.Scene from ‘Freddy Got Fingered’
5. Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
Steve Jobs was an inspirational leader, not least in terms of his iconic Apple product launch presentations. One secret he had was that he’d spend hours preparing and practicing. Here’s some more of Steve Jobs’ presentation secrets if you’re wanting to take things a step further and learn from the very best.
So rehearsal is a massive part of your presentation, to give clients, colleagues and others a great impression. Whether you rehearse in your head or out loud, it all helps better engage your audience. In effect, you are presenting yourself, so rehearsal will help you be present, not knee-deep looking at or reading from your slides. After all, it is a presentation! It will also give you more confidence in talking about your subject matter, adding to your authenticity.
Practice makes perfect. After a long time of practicing, our work will become natural, swift, and steady.Bruce Lee
Download This PowerPoint Presentation Template
If you liked the presentation, you can download it as a template below. Simply click the image or download button. I hope you find it useful! Feel free to explore and amend the various elements for your own fantastic presentations…
I hope you’ve found this guidance, template and video on PowerPoint presentations helpful. Subscribe to my EATO YouTube channel for more MS Office how-to videos and presentations. Liking the content? Please like and share with friends and colleagues who may also find it useful. If so inclined, supporting my work helps keep free content flowing. Want fantastic, time-saving templates just for you and your business? Then please get in touch to arrange a bespoke quote. Finally, please feel free to leave your feedback below, including what tutorials or templates you’d like created.
Kind Regards, Adrian