Frequently, I’m asked to design Powerpoint slides for my clients that they can use in presentations to their clients. While designing in Powerpoint can feel to a designer like creating a Monet with color crayons, I’ve discovered some tips and tricks to making Powerpoint presentations look professional, while breaking the mold of traditional templates. Here’s a sampling:
- Create a plan for your presentation before you start. Knowing the flow of content in a presentation can help you create a design plan for the presentation: will you need a title slide? A slide for section breaks? A content slide? Consider creating a balance of content-heavy slides to attention-grabbing visual slides that give viewers a break and provide new interest.
- Design the type as well as the slide backgrounds. Clients are unlikely to have the typographic training and eye that a professional designer possesses when formatting Powerpoint text from your design. Make sure you create examples of how headings, subheads, body content, bulleted lists, and captions should look. I personally find the Powerpoint shortcuts for bulleted/numbered lists and indents to be too limited, instead creating hanging indents using the ruler as I would in Microsoft word for greater typographic control. Resist the urge to fill each slide with type; most Powerpoint presentations use a type size that far exceeds what is needed for readability. And take advantage of line spacing/space after functions to group like text with like on the slide.
- Limit the amount of content on each slide. Powerpoint slides are meant to be used in conjunction with a live presenter; let the slides remain largely visual to complement the points outlined by the speaker. Supply bulleted slide notes as needed in the printed version.
- Design compelling visuals. Too often, clients invest only in a title and master slide when hiring a designer for their Powerpoint presentations. This is missing an opportunity to present consistent brand visuals to your client’s target audiences. Design charts and graphs with the clients’ colors and fonts, create slides using brand images, and incorporate your clients’ brand elements into each slide. The result will be a polished, professional presentation.
- Resist using Powerpoint effects. Elaborate slide transitions, 3-D effects, gradients, and pre-designed templates call attention to the technique more than the content and brand message.
Remember that as a designer, it’s your job to educate clients about the potential (and limitations) of each medium. Creating a one-of-a-kind Powerpoint presentation that is designed from start to finish will set your clients apart from the competition and give them confidence when presenting to prosepective clients.