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5 EASY Tips to Improve Your PowerPoint Design (2022)


Do you marvel at well-designed slide decks? And do you ever wonder if you could create good slide design?

Or do you stick with your typical slide designs because you think it will be too hard or time consuming to apply better design?

Fortunately, there are quick and easy strategies you can apply right away to design better slide decks. In this post, I will share the five tips I use for better looking slides.

Learn five quick and easy design strategies for your slide decks, including examples and demonstrations that walk you through the how to. You can apply the strategies right away for better slide decks.

Have Clutter Free Slides (Tip #1)

One of the best strategies you can use is to minimize the amount of content you have on your slides. Having too much content, whether text or visuals, creates a sense of overwhelm and visually, looks too crowded.

The audience often struggles with where to focus, on the slide or you, the presenter. In design circles, clutter free is often referred to as white space or negative space.

This space doesn’t have to be white, it just needs to be content free. The most well-known example exemplifying white space is Apple. Others that use effective white space are

  • the oral health company, Quip,
  • Sasaki Associates, an architecture and space planning firm, and
  • Duarte, a presentation design, training, and storytelling agency.

In all of these examples there is minimal use of images, color, and text. It is easy to see and identify the important information the company wants to convey.

To apply white space on a slide, only include the absolute minimum content to support your message. For text, this is only the main point or points. This example represents a typical text heavy slide. Here is the same content reduced to the main points.

With images, use just one for photographs and for icons use 5 or less. For all of these examples, your eye is drawn to specific content and is easy to understand.

Use Quality Images (Tip #2)

Using quality images elevates your entire slide deck and conveys professionalism. Two common hallmarks of inferior images are they look dated or have a low pixel count.

An example of dated and unprofessional images is Clip Art. While fine for use in an elementary classroom, you should avoid using these as much as possible. Opt for photographs to support your message. This gives your presentation a contemporary look and feel.

Low resolution images look fine in their original size but when enlarged look blurry and out of focus. This is often referred to as being pixelated. A presentation must is avoiding images with a low pixel count or low resolution.

For photographs, download larger sizes because it is easier to crop and make smaller without distortion. With icons, use an .svg or scalable vector graphic. This file type makes resizing seamless.

I often get asked where to find quality images. Fortunately, it is really easy to access quality copyright free and public domain images. Microsoft has greatly improved its image gallery in the last several years.

You can find and quickly insert stock images, illustrations, and icons. Other sites I use regularly are Pixabay, Pexels, Unsplash, and the Noun Project. There many specialty sites as well. Here is a quick sheet with the sites I recommend.

Use PowerPoint Designer (Tip #3)

This feature uses artificial intelligence to recommend potential designs for a slide. Introduced with PowerPoint 2016, this feature continues to improve.

To use the Designer, just click the Design Ideas button on the Home tab. Several options will be displayed and you select the one you want use. You can convert a list to this. A quote to this. Or a group of images to this.

I use this option regularly, particularly if I am in a hurry or struggling with how to design a slide. And a recent feature update to the selection pane, provides more flexibility to customize suggestions. Learn more about how to best leverage this feature.

Apply the Rule of Thirds (Tip #4)

The rule of thirds is a composition technique often used in film and photography but has application with other design creations like a slide deck. The technique helps create visual interest by moving content out of the exact middle or center of the space.

For this technique, use 4 lines, 2 horizontal and 2 vertical, across an area to create nine smaller distinct areas that are sized equally. The lines are often used to align content and the intersections are used to anchor content or create a focal point.

Here is how it works. The placement of this first image is fairly common. The main content or focus is in the middle of the slide. When you apply the grid, it becomes more evident.

However, you can make a slight adjustment by moving the eye and water bottle to the top line and intersection. It is a slight change but creates a stronger visual. To create a grid for the rule of thirds, use Guides.

These are visible only in Edit mode. From the View tab, check the Guides option. To create a second vertical and horizontal line, right click over a guide and select add guide. Then drag and drop the guides to create an approximate grid for the rule of thirds.

Visualizing Data (Tip #5)

Interpreting data takes time and concentration. Presenting too much data all at once or ineffective presentation of data, pulls the audience’s attention away from what you are saying.

The data on the slide should match the point you are making. Most often people will put all of the data on one slide either as a chart or table, like these examples.

The problem here is that the audience doesn’t know what to focus on. Or while trying to read the data, they miss what you are saying.

Additionally, by adding large amounts of data, the text can become small, making it difficult to read. For instance, if you are highlighting the total number of people who agree certain foods are healthy, then that should be the only data you show.

Here is an example of a revised visualization that shows only the percentage of people who agree. With just a glance the audience can read the content and then focus on what you are saying.

Another benefit of visualizing data is that you are often applying tips #1 and #2 by having a clutter free slide and using quality images.

I created this visual by adding a light gray rectangle. Then found icons to match the different foods. In this instance, I used Noun Project and applied a specific color for an added visual. Then I added text for the title, percentages, and each food type.

If you’d like to get a deeper understanding about design, I recommend two sites, Skillshare and LinkedIn.

Both offer a wide variety of online courses, like technology, productivity, and business skills and are taught by professionals in the field. You can take courses during a free trial, and then subscribe to a monthly or annual membership if you want long term access.

About the Author

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Jennifer Sharkey is known as the Virtual Presentation Specialist. Being passionate about seeing people shine and be heard, she leans into her 20+ years of public speaking experience and uses what she has learned from presenting, both in-person and virtually, to small groups all the way up to 5000 people. Jennifer draws from her experience as an associate professor, academic librarian, and coach to help holistic coaches master virtual presentations to grow their business. Her unique immersive program provides practical strategies and methods to build confidence, engage audiences, and generate authenticity and authority.

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