DateFebruary 16, 2017
AuthorMichaletz ZwiefMarketing and digital communications agency specializing in smart, meaningful content development.
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Simplify your slides for best results.
Updated: April 15, 2020
There’s two key principles to remember when building a PowerPoint presentation—content and graphic design. For content tips, see this blog post. This article explains technical considerations when designing PPT presentations to help maximize readability while simplifying your design process.
1. Determine a ratio that will best fit the purpose of the presentation—will it be viewed across multiple device platforms? Or, will it be presented at a conference on a large screen? Best practice is to use the 4:3 ratio for presentations to be distributed to a sales team who use different devices to present to their customers. The 16:9 ratio is most effective when being presented at a conference. Today’s corporations should consider creating both sizes to be prepared for either situation.
2. KISS—“Keep It Simple, Silly.” Slide presentations should be creative but not cluttered. Only use the main speaking points as short, concise bullets. Keep design elements to a minimum so as not to distract the audience from what the speaker is actually verbally presenting.
3. Don’t overuse animations, they can be a distraction and add little value to meaningful content other than “eye candy.” Animations can also add weight to the overall size of the presentation and may cause unpredictable results when displayed across multiple devices.
4. Use large font sizes for readability—Guy Kawasaki suggests nothing under 30 point—however, use a consistent font size even if it is a little smaller to present a consistent, appealing presentation. Read about his 10/20/30 rule.
5. Use "Slide Master" (under the View tab) to standardize templates for all slides. There you can set common artwork and fonts as the theme across your presentation, so when you add content in "Normal" view, it won't have to be reformatted. Use sub slides to create different layout options (adjust placement of headers, subheads, images and bulleted copy), and create a new Master slide for a variation of the art, layout and background colors.
6. When using "Slide Master", keep in mind what content you want to be editable and not editable in "Normal" view (e.g. text, images and graphs). The placeholders on the existing Master Slide layouts will be editable in Normal view, but if you want to add your own content placeholders manually, you must always use "Insert Placeholder" in the top panel. If you add content to a Master slide using tools in the Home or Insert tabs, that content will become part of the background and non-editable in Normal view.
7. Use easy to read fonts like Arial or Calibri—if you use a custom font that is not on your sales team’s computers the special font will need to be installed on each device to render the PPT properly.
Overall, let your verbal presentation impress your audience. Use the PowerPoint presentation to inform your audience. Keep it short, to the point and easy on the eyes—your customer’s time is valuable.