Why does slide design matter? Because you’ll never succeed at making great presentations if you can’t create slides that merge great content with visual appeal. As a presenter, you already know that content is what come first. My point here is that slapping a well-structured presentation is just not enough to wow people.
Bad design is a credibility killer
If your presentation looks bad or average, you won’t look credible. People pay attention to what stands out, so you have to separate yourself from the crowd to get your name on their radar screen. How to do that? With great presentation design. Great PPT design will allow you to do just that:
- Make your content swallowable
- Have a professional end result
- Stand out and be remembered
Killing three birds with one stone / Catching stars at all the levels!
How to design awesome slides without any design experience
You know design works. If you don’t believe me, just look at Apple. They sold 500 million units of one of the world’s most expensive phone on the planet. But not everybody is Apple and being creative is not always easy. In fact, creating an effective powerpoint presentation can be quite challenging and time consuming, especially for busy professionals like you.
So how can you streamline your creativity and dress up those slides like professional designers do? The good news is it’s not that hard. I’ve figured out how to simplify my slide design creativity process and set up a 3 steps process that will make you:
- Streamline your creativity flow
- Design killer slides
- Save time
Here’s how I do it, and here’s how you can too:
Find your inspiration
There are three types of sources to find your inspiration.
When I’m not sure about how I’d like my presentation design to look like, I head to Slideshare. It’s so far one of the best places to find awesome slides and get your creative juices flowing.
You ideally want to find presentations that relate to your industry and topic. Doing a presentation about How to Generate Leads on Twitter? Check the results for various keyword entries:
Or browse the featured / most popular section :
Here is a slide I selected when searching in the “social media” section:
Here are two slides extracted from presentations I selected when searching the “social media” section. What do I like about these slides? They are good looking, and I can easily identify their great design patterns. Because these presentations already got popular online, if you were to design similar decks, it would probably do well.
Professional template websites
They offer paid PowerPoint slides templates. You can usually browse these websites by categories (planning, sales & marketing, charts…) and view the slides offered. Slideshop and 24 Slides are great to source professional templates. Just browse by categories until you find slides that fit your purpose.
To find presentations on Google, enter these search strings:
- “Best presentations” + “keyword”
- Top + “keyword” + filetype: pdf (note: most PowerPoints are saved as pdf files)
You can also browse Google images and enter your keyword to directly access tons of visuals. Here’s a Google Search trick: Put quotation marks around words to search for an exact phrase in an exact order.
Once you’ve found a couple of creative presentations you like, screenshot the best slides and save them by category. Chart, data, key message, cover slide, table of content, etc. You can use the same categories you see on professional websites if you don’t know how to sort them.
You want to save these slides to keep a portfolio of great presentation slides. In the future, you’ll be able to quickly access your inspiration slides according to your presentation needs.
Identify great design patterns and understand how they work
You’ve saved a couple of nice presentation resources. Great. Now, it’s time to tap into some of these great works, and understand how they function. What you want to do here is to dissect these slides you’ve picked earlier and analyze them:
Find slides that make sense
It’s useless to identify great slide designs if style doesn’t match with yours. To know if it does, think about your industry and presentation topic. Does it make sense to adopt a similar graphic style? You don’t want to pick some shiny slides if you’re in corporate finance.
Identify their key ingredients
Slides serve different functions (cover slides, transitions, content slides…): identify them. Then, identify the design & content components. Analyzing the slides architecture will help you to understand how everything is holding together. If you’ve never analyzed presentation slides before, here’s a template you may consider using:
|What is the slide visual identity of the slide?||What is the function of the slide?
How is the content structured?
How everything is holding together?
|Colors (how many colors?)
Fonts (how many, what styles, for what type of messages, what feelings they express?)
Lay-out (where is what?)
Photography (type, position in the slide)
By understanding how presentations visually work, you’ve done almost all the job of identifying how you can benefit from them. Let’s take a look at the slide design below:
Here’s a nice summary slide designed by Eugene Cheng. In this slide, I identified 3 design success patterns. Here there are:
- Colors contrast well (black vs. white and green)
- Font chosen is impactful
- Colorful number shapes are much better than bullet points
- That background picture hidden behind a semi-transparent layer’s nice
Here’s a slide I found when search for “social media” presentations on Slideshare:
Here’s what’s nice about it:
- Rotated rectangle shape (creating dynamism)
- Wall background (increasing contrast)
- Callout shape (creating a good call-to-action)
Getting in the presentation design groove yet? It’s time to take it to the next level and implement!
Implement and customize
If you wanna take the best out of these rocking presentations, you just don’t want to copy people. The point of this creativity speed-up process is to add your own personal touch. That means you must customize.
Remember Eugene’s slide we reviewed in Step #2? In most PowerPoints presentations, you’ll have a slide dedicated to recalling the presentation content. I figured out most of these “table of content” slides are terribly boring.
To customize this design on your presentations, here what you shall consider:
- Your color guidelines – most companies have graphic standards. What’s yours? Use your color scheme to guide you in the customization.
- Your presentation topic – Eugene has used a picture background on his slide. You can barely see it because it’s nested right behind a semi-transparent black layer. To make that effect, first, find a picture that fits with your presentation topic. Then, integrate it full-slide to your slide and do as below.
Add a rectangle shape on top of your background picture.
Throw in transparency. Here, I’ve used black as a shape color and throw a transparency of 20%. But you could pick a different color that matches with your company logo for instance. If you chose a dark color, pick a white/shiny text for contrast purpose. Here are three variations effects for the same background image:
Now, it’s time to add those colorful rounded shapes in lieu of bullet points! Three steps:
- First, add one rounded shape (insert > shape).
- Second, you’re now going to save some time. Keep your rounded shape selected (left-click maintained). At the main time, press ctrl and simultaneously drag down your shape without releasing the left click. This will multiply your shape as many times as you’re dragging it down.
- Third, make sure these shapes are aligned correctly (third image below)
Put your numbers in the rounded shapes. After that, add your text parts. The font I’m using is IMPACT; find your perfect match for free here. You’re set.
Here are two other slides I designed being inspired from others:
How could you possibly go wrong with being inspired by great PowerPoint presentations? With some work, you too can wow your audience with professional looking slides.Once you’ve structured a knock-out presentation, make it shine with fresh off the block design. You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to do it. Slide design for PowerPoint can be implemented easily, no matter if you know something about design or not. All you have to do is to look out for the best PowerPoint presentations out there, dissect their success patterns, and implement.