If you’re new to presenting, then the prospect of designing a quality presentation can be more than a little overwhelming. But the good news is, you don’t need to go to design school to create an excellent presentation—you just need to have an understanding of the basic design principles that make a presentation persuasive and compelling.

Graphics and Images Good; Bullet Points Bad
Your brain might tell you that bullet points are the way to go because they were probably involved in most of the presentations you’ve seen, especially in school. But in fact, bullet points actually hurt your presentation. According to a recent study, audiences who viewed bullet-point presentations had a significantly more difficult time paying attention and recalling information than those who viewed presentations with high-quality graphics and images.

Keep Text to a Minimum
When you’re presenting on a topic, it’s easy to cram all of the information you want to share onto your slides, but that only makes for a confusing and hard-to-follow presentation. Instead, stick to just a few keywords per slide that will emphasize your point rather than tell it for you. This might lead to a bunch more slides than you expected, and that’s completely fine! Your audience doesn’t care how many slides you use, they just care about how engaging your talk is.

Find a Cohesive Color Palette
Color is critical to an excellent presentation because it makes it more attractive and engaging for the audience. But don’t fall into the trap a lot of new presenters do by incorporating too many different colors as that will only make your visuals chaotic and overwhelming. It’s best to stick to just a handful of hues and pepper them throughout your talk. This will result in a much more cohesive, polished, and professional-looking presentation.

Keep it Simple
Highly detailed images and interesting fonts might look great up close, but from the perspective of your audience, they can look messy and confusing. As a general rule, only incorporate simple images that will translate from a distance and clean, basic fonts that are easy to read. But don’t think simple means boring. It’s often the simplest images that are the most compelling because they allow our brains to process information quicker and easier.

Be a Smart Composer
How you align your visuals is just as important as what the visuals are. A lot of new presenters tend to center everything, which can become monotonous for the audience. Rather than always center your text and images, vary the alignment from slide to slide. But when you do, be sure to keep it balanced. For example, if you have a left-aligned block of text, then balance it out with a beautiful image or color on the opposing side.

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to take your skills to the next level. Ethos3’s Catapult Training will have you designing with the best of ‘em in no time at all.

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