You know a bad presentation when you see it—even if the content is compelling, a poorly executed slide deck can make an interesting topic incredibly dull. The goal of a good presentation is to tell a story, not just to regurgitate information—in other words, educate and convince your audience.
How to tell a compelling story is a subject for another blog post—I’m just here to offer some pointers for designing a slide deck to support that message. So whether you’re designing a conference keynote, a sales or client pitch, or a lecture, here are some pro tips to make any live presentation—whether it’s built in PowerPoint, Keynote, Google Slides, or something else—more effective and compelling to your audience.
1. Size (and Color) Matters
Hierarchy establishes an order of importance, making sure your audience knows what they should be paying attention to. The key to effective hierarchy is to create visual contrast in size, color, and/or type.
2. Less Is More
Too much content will distract your audience while you are presenting, so avoid having too many text boxes and graphics on screen at once. Don’t be afraid to split up your content onto multiple slides—you’ll still be presenting the same information, but controlling the amount that is available to your audience.
3. Visualize Your Data
Graphs, charts, and infographics are excellent tools that summarize data, emphasize patterns, and make complex information more digestible.
4. An Icon Is Worth a Thousand Words
Icons provide visual cues that allow the audience to quickly draw connections between pieces of content on a slide. For instance, a calendar icon can more succinctly communicate the idea of a schedule than having to read the words.
5. Make It Move
Although it’s best to avoid long videos and complex animations—especially in the age of glitchy and lagging virtual meetings—there’s an easy way to add some motion: by using Giphy stickers. Go to giphy.com, search for the kind of sticker you want, and filter your results to show stickers (which have a transparent background) rather than GIFs. Then just save to your computer and insert as you would a normal image file. You can use stickers to highlight certain information, or just to embellish your slide with something fun and attention-grabbing.