All About PowerPoint, Presentations & Life
All of us have been in that zone of uncomfort- staring at the grey, content-ridden PowerPoint slide like a zombie, waiting for the Aha moment which does not come. If the deadline is close, you really cannot afford this artistic luxury to just sit and stare. PowerPoint is not going to take your content and metamorphosize that into a life-breathing design. In Harry Potter’s magic world, it might have been possible.
Let us save you from the PowerPoint headache. After browsing through tons of breathtaking slides, we have found 11 unique and creative presentation ideas that professional designers use to churn out a “wow” slide. These designers understand the pulse of the audience, what clicks with them, and being in the business of visual communication know the latest design trends that make you look in tune with the modern times.
You do not have to pay hundreds of dollars to get that polished design. We have cracked their design code and are passing on the secrets to you (They are not trade secrets, just simple hacks that we so easily overlook while designing presentations). Enough of talk, let us devour them straightaway:
Presentation Idea #1- Use Vector Graphics
Vector Graphics are flat shapes drawn mathematically, are totally editable and employ use of bold, bright colors that can make any design come to life. Being flat in design, they are currently the latest trend and give the presentation an infographic look. While finding an image for every business idea may be a tough task, finding a vector graphic for the same on the web is not.
Say you are a public speaking coach or motivational speaker and have to create a presentation on “Finding your voice as a leader”. The title slide has to be attention-grabbing and impactful. Rather than wracking your brain for ideas, just read the title twice, find the soul of the topic which is “voice” and “leader” in this case and think how you can represent those. Speaking out forcefully, for instance, can be represented with a megaphone. Great, there are hundreds of vector graphics available on those! Pick any one you like and create an amazing starting slide like the one we have created below:
You think all professional PowerPoint designers create these vector graphics? Na, they too download the best graphics available online and create a wow presentation in no time.
Since flat design is defined by its minimalism and simplicity, it also makes your content stand out while at the same time reinforcing it visually. Flat designs are editable, meaning you can always change the colors to suit your branding needs.
Presentation Idea #2- Add Drama/Humanize
Then there is something that doesn’t require design knowledge at all. It requires you to switch on the creative bulb inside your head, think beyond the design and deeper into your presentation topic. Leader! A topic that has fascinated mankind since centuries. Everybody wants to be a leader, and not just any ordinary leader but an iconic leader like Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, John F. Kennedy, etc. Then exploit that to your advantage! Since the topic is about finding your voice, what better voice than these notable personalities.
That’s what we did. We gave a face to the faceless leader- the face of Martin Luther King Jr. Besides humanizing the topic, we also added a bit of drama by giving a historic look to the slide. We greyed out the slide, used a textured background and used an eroded font to give an “old look and feel” to the slide. How powerful the slide below looks and without any doubt, it will make the audience sit straight in their seats and look forward to every detail that you share with them. Your slide promises that they are just one step away from becoming the next big leader- that step is your presentation!
It is not necessary to dig up past to uncover ideas. They might be just around you- a trend going viral on social media, newspaper headline, a current event of importance, etc. For the above example, America’s Presidential Debate showdown between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump would have been the perfect starting point. Everyone is keeping a close tab on US elections and you can strike the right chord with the audience by showcasing that voice in your presentation. Got any more ideas with regards to dramatic openings? Don’t forget to share with us in the comments below. Meanwhile, let us move to the third presentation trick.
Presentation Idea #3- Go Minimalistic
The talk of minimalism- letting go of your wants and focusing just on your needs- is back. Although this trend is becoming more popular in the world of architecture, the day is not far it will become a rage in the world of presentation designing too. That is because of its functional superiority and giving the users what they “need” and not what you “want” to give. The end user needs valuable information and in the least amount of time. The same comes to design. A great design but with little clarity will attract the eyeballs but not retain them for long. Minimalistic design does away with all superfluous design elements and cleans up the look so that the information is received, grasped and retained in seconds.
Here is a minimalistic slide design that uses only a simple border and icon to illustrate a quote. It could further be simplified by removing the icon, if need be. The use of less design elements doesn’t make the design any less creative; infact even better. Just remember the “purpose” of the slide while designing and you will have a beautiful design that resonates with the audience!
Presentation Idea #4- KISS
No, not the romantic kiss to your muse for the design inspiration. Just “Keep it Simple, Stupid”. Many designers go over the top with their designs and end up with a chaotic slide that is overflowing with colors, shapes and text. In the same vein as minimalism, the KISS acronym will help you create a good design without any need to hunt hours for a good presentation template.
Unlike minimalism which requires you to invest decent amount of time, thought and revisions, KISSing will take seconds. All you need to do is simply distribute your bullet points in a nice layout. Separate each bullet point with a line separator, add an icon for each, and use the basic knowledge of contrast to create a simple yet professional slide. Just like this one:
Presentation Idea #5- Use Metaphors
The best designers look at the content, jot down the central idea on paper and write down all the related associations that come to their mind. How do you show weaknesses of the service? A weak link in the chain...ummm, yes that could work. Even better, a frayed rope about to break. Metaphors turn the mundane into exciting. Audiences immediately relate to the idea, provided the metaphor is not too vague.
Similarly, a slide on challenges could use a labyrinth depicting the difficulty of the situation. Contrast that with a slide that has just plain bullet points (duh!) Using metaphors requires a little investment of time and brainstorming session with colleagues but the end result is worth it. Just like a tough mountain climb for hours and the brief moment of savoring the beauty from top! That’s the beauty of metaphors; use them.
Presentation Idea #6- Know that “Content is the King”
Great designers differ from good designers in that they understand that content is the most important thing in any design. So, rather than working on making the slide “look great” they ensure that the slide “works great”. A fundamental rule in advertising is also that design should complement or enhance the content and not overpower it. In presentations too, content should dictate the design of the slides and not vice versa. That will ensure that the audience remembers the heart and soul of your presentation, and not just be impressed by the look of it.
To make it easier for you to understand, here’s a beautiful looking slide which overpowers the content:
Rocket is the perfect illustration for a product launch and is quite attention-grabbing in the above image but it is doing so at the cost of the content. The audience will remember the visual for sure but not those 8 steps which were the purpose of the slide. If we tone down the image a bit and distribute the content in a better, more organized way, we can have the best of both. Like in the slide below:
The eye goes toward the visual first and then quickly scans the content in the right order. The 8 steps are read, understood and the slide is remembered as a whole. In short, your message is communicated which is exactly what you wanted.
Presentation Idea #7- Chop Bullets into Blocks
Designing is still relatively easy when the content is less. But what if you have 3 to 4 sentences taking up much of the space. What if you can’t find any visual that gels with all those points. That’s when this presentation trick comes handy. Split your slide into blocks. Make grids that neatly showcase the content. Because the white space is evenly distributed, you get harmony that is one of the hallmarks of a good design.
Check out the slide below and notice how professional it looks, despite lacking any striking visual:
You may use the shades of the same color to differentiate each block. If you are having trouble choosing the colors, knowledge of basic color schemes will help you create good looking slides.
Presentation Idea #8- Icons + Shape
The best design scenario is having just keywords on your slide. There’s a lot you can do with design when you have the least amount of text to deal with. Ideally speaking, you should not have complete sentences and paragraphs on your slide. Slide should encapsulate the gist of the content while details can be poured out in handouts and further distributed amongst the audience.
When you have just pointers, a great design hack is to illustrate the same with an icon. You can further display those icons in a shape that makes those icons stand out more. If you are showcasing your business goals, mission, vision, company values, then this is the best design layout for you. Any amateur designer can do this but unfortunately nobody does!
Presentation Idea #9- Throw Spotlight on Key Element
Images are important, not just from the design point of view, but from communication standpoint too. How? They reinforce the content of your slides, are remembered for longer times than text, and are processed faster by our brains. The image you choose is, therefore, as important as the text you put.
But not everything is important in an image. The background details are hardly relevant in an image of, say, target audience. Rather than cropping the main focus of the image, a far better option is to blur out the rest of the image, add a transparent layer over it, and add your content on the layer. That ways, you can have the best of both- text readability and visual focus. Exactly like in the slide below:
How do you create this stand-out effect? Check out our article on “Stand Out Effect” showing you one of the ways to achieve this spotlight effect.
Presentation Idea #10- Use Pattern Backgrounds/ Textures
Want to lend sophistication to your slides? Then try this design hack. All you need to do is download a free pattern background from the web or try out textured backgrounds available in PowerPoint. If you need your presentation to stand out from others, you need to do things differently.
Agreed that not all slides can be shown with a textured background but your section header slides can be! So can be client testimonial slides or a famous quotation slide like the one below:
Presentation Idea #11- Make Effective Use of Space
We can’t stress enough the importance of white space. You need breathing space on your slide. But too less or too much white space can also make the slide seem incomplete. How do you manage this white space effectively?
Back to square one- you have the entire slide canvas in front of you to showcase your design skill. And you have your 4 or 5 bullet points. How can you arrange those? Well, now you know you can show it vertically with a striking image, split them into blocks of text, and so on. You can also forget all those points that we told you and play around with shapes and editing tools in PowerPoint till you get that perfect look.
Check out the design below: before this design, we had the same icon and text but something was amiss. The slide looked empty (problem of too much white space!) So, we created a customized shape that jutted out from the icon and placed our content inside it. Doesn’t it look different and balanced at the same time. You can try it out if you have the time to play with PowerPoint tools!
All professional designers don’t end up making a good design in seconds. They keep rearranging the elements on slide and continue doing hit and trial till they end up with a unique and creative design that you just can’t help but admire. That’s when the designer inside you is satisfied and at rest. Hope these 11 presentation tricks will unleash the hidden designer in you!
Which design hack/hacks you liked the most? Tell us in the comments below.