If you’re always on a quest to do better when it comes to your creative projects and spectacular presentations, then you understand why I jumped in to enjoy a sample video course from LinkedIn Learning.
The course, “Creating Better PowerPoint Slide Decks” by Heather Ackman caught my attention.
Mainly my excitement is because using PowerPoint is an opportunity. An opportunity for giving you a powerful way to create a multitude of projects or versions of projects to build boomerang content to help expand your traffic and reach.
The visual impact slide decks offer to amplify your content, along with PowerPoint’s continually improving features, makes it an excellent multi-purpose force to consider for your creator’s toolbox.
I love how Heather’s course introduces presentation concepts before she gets to the crux of how to emulate these concepts in your PowerPoint presentations.
Want to know what Heather shares about creating better PowerPoint slide decks? You’re sure to learn something new or to at least refresh yourself on sound design and presentation processes to incorporate in each thing you produce.
Designing a Presentation
Before you start any design, you need to do some design thinking.
First, ask yourself these three essential questions:
A.) What is the primary message?
B.) What is the goal of the message?
C.) How do I best visualize the message?
The answers give you a primary focus and direction along with establishing the goal for your project. But, there are other components so critical they are key factors in how to best put your design into action in your slide decks.
The first, of course, is about understanding your audience so you can gear your presentation to their particular tastes. Personalizing your message and speaking to your unique audience only happens when you know who they are. There are other factors at play here. But, honing in on the exact person for your message is central.
These other “factors” include social/cultural, biological/environmental, and others too. But, your presentations are more successful when you cater to the tastes of your specific audience.By understanding your audience, you can gear presentations to their particular tastes. Click To Tweet
Even if you know about this concept, it’s a good policy to review. Try to think about the rules of hierarchy in the design process with each project you create.
Design Hierarchy refers to how you style design elements to pull focus. In this way, you can change the perspective and showcase what’s important, by design.
Manipulating design elements to showcase what’s most relevant, first, is achieved thru size, shape, color, saturation, and texture. The idea is to give the viewer a distinct place to look first. You can do this by visually showing one object as more relevant, or prominent, than the others by using dominance.
Dominance allows you to show focal points by emphasizing one thing in relation to others. One way to do this is by using size in either text or graphics to draw attention to your main point of focus first.
Using size is only one great way to illustrate dominance with an attention-grabbing attitude. Color contrast is another but, we’ll get to color, shortly.
Design Hierarchy to Match Content Structure
Mainly, you want to match the design hierarchy to the content structure in a manner that makes the most sense to your unique viewers. The same presentation may, therefore, need adjustments for best results based on different audiences.
Linear ways to setup visual hierarchy include techniques like using titles or headings on slides, bullet points, lists, or outlines, even boldface text.
But, whatever you do, don’t use any technique, especially those linear types—much too predictable—all too often. Heather warns in this case of a condition called habituation. This occurs at a point where predictability becomes boring, lulling people to inattention.
Not only do you want to gain people’s attention with your message, but you also want to be memorable and, boring is a condition sure to kill any hope for that, right?
Space as Design
What you design has as much to do with space you use as the space you don’t.
Adopting a KISS (Keep It Seriously Simple) formula, Heather points out, is over-simplification. Space is important to design hierarchy but, also helps with readability and legibility as well as bringing harmony and balance to your slide-by-slide design.
Clarity in your message and the visual presentation of it is your primary objective and use of space, including white space, is a big part of conveying an understandable tone with ease.
Proportion is one use of space helping to represent the desired hierarchy and emphasize focal points. Also, you can use proportions to highlight active space, or to highlight “carefully considered emptiness.”
I love how that phrase stresses the importance, again, of how a design is often stronger by what you don’t show in your use of space. Less clutter in design and clever uses of space along with size, color, and contrast adds power to your message. Space also contributes to the feel or tone of your communications and helps bring the personality of a presentation to life.
Space applies to the use of text on slides as well as to visual layout and impacts the specific tone the slides convey. Too much text overwhelms so think about the feeling you want to create and not just the words. Balance active and passive space, words and visuals, mood and message.Position your content design to conjure a unified experience for your specific users with the thoughtful use of design elements.Click To Tweet
Unity in Design
Another way to manipulate space in design is through unity, or grouping, in designing elements on a slide to produce a brilliantly cohesive whole.
By default, the mind, when seeing two things together, automatically views them as related, making unity and grouping a natural flow to viewers.
PowerPoint offers tools to help you with spacing and placements with rulers, grids, and guide features. Additionally, there are grouping and alignment tools among your PowerPoint tabs. Investigate PowerPoint by pushing buttons, experimenting, and trying everything out!
You can also create unity by using the following techniques:
The way you align, group, arrange, and relate objects to each other adds to your story presentation and influences how others will understand your communications.
Color combinations can unify as well by spotlighting areas of significance using color contrasts, shades, and color accents, for example, to draw the eye. Color also unites by helping to create an atmosphere, a tone, a comfortability by achieving similarity, flow, or pattern in the design.
Ultimately, your audience again is the guide, directing the cadence, rhythm, color techniques, and personality for perfect presentations. Position your content design to conjure a unified experience for your specific users with the thoughtful use of design elements.
Color for Attraction Not Distraction
Ana Hoffman has a distinct color palette and style making her brand recognizable in her PowerPoint slide decks. But while Ana likes to offer some pizzazz in her slide presentations, she’s brilliantly clear and precise in how she connects by combining art and science to reach her audience.
Besides muting backgrounds to highlight text, Ana uses text color to accent important words or points. She uses repetitive text, colors, and visuals to maintain a flow and to point out key topics. Notice how Ana focuses on color contrast, consistency, and using color choices to add an emotional layer for valuable customer touchpoints.
Colors help create the contextual meaning for your presentations. Use them to draw attention, enhance a message using color contrast, and emphasize focal points.
Make colors compelling by using them to instill recognition and familiarity for viewers while increasing your brand value as you go. Use colors for a mood, adding feeling and emotion to your look and message delivery.
Heather Ackman reminds of how many choices use of color brings about for design possibilities but hones in on these four points:
- Color use is a seductive tool so, explore color as a means to attract.
- Select colors with purpose, using them as a design element, for contrast, and to create a theme.
- Hijack colors to make connects in an easily understandable code and for a smoother flow.
- Just like in the case of text, too many colors, confuse.
This guide showing beautiful color combinations from Visme gives you an excellent array of examples illustrating strong color mixes and color ideas.
Color Tools in PowerPoint
PowerPoint helps you get your color selections just right. They offer color themes with varying complimentary hues to line up an entire palette with a click.
Or, you can set up your distinct theme color set and then save it for a reusable and consistent color theme design if you like. Save more than one personal color set and, name them to quickly find again for ongoing uses.
When you save and name theme sets of your own, they are listed under the design tab for easy access.
Along with setting up and naming your personal color wheels for projects, you have another option in the color picker. PowerPoint’s eyedropper is a wonder tool that picks up any color from anything (like logo colors, for example) and replicates it in your design so you can match colors, exactly.
Contrast for readability and simplicity for ease are the goals for color and text on the slides you make above all else. Primary colors are advised against for best visibility and remember screen size and user device options count in testing for best final choices.
The important thing is to keep viewers in mind with color choices but, you want a color theme to uniquely reflect you and your brand. Colors make connections with people.
The color key for the PowerPoint theme palette is as follows:
- Colors 1 and 2: Text Color(s)
- Colors 3 and 4: Background Colors 1 and 2
- Accent Color 1: Main color for outlines, most often used color default for lines and shapes
- Accent Colors 2 to 6: Remaining five PowerPoint accent colors including for hyperlinks, after-click follow color, etc.
Use Tools and Features to Add You
Don’t forget to use custom color RGB or HEX values for your unique brand theme color design, then name it, and hit SAVE. These preset color schemes for either client business color patterns or your own keep things consistent and saves time.
Usually working with one main color, a key accent color, and a third “pop” color for special effects, like buttons, adds clarity. Likewise, a simple font pairing with a headline style and text style that work well together or add to the personality of your message works best.
Fontpair.co is a perfect site to take a look at font pairings to compare. Like picking color schemes, you may want to add a third “pop” text style beyond heading and body styles for special uses.
You can use a chrome extension to decipher fonts styles or HEX colors that you see on the web. For the color codes, use ColorZilla with your chrome browser. Get the extension, then highlight or point to the desired color to find out exactly what it is. For fonts, use the WhatFont extension to get the info.
For another site to grab HEX color codes and play with palettes, try out Coolors.co. Here’s another fun read and explanation about the psychology of colors with emphasis on real-world business logos and meanings expressed via color.
Experiment and test and don’t be afraid to evolve along the way but, always keep ease-of-use at the front of your mind. Make sure what you like also logistically works, so viewers, readers, and listeners get an experience that’s valuable and memorable. And most of all, easy to understand and consume.
Fun, entertaining, and inspiring aren’t dirty words even when your objective is to be informational.
Leveling up your PowerPoint slide decks helps. Let me know what you think.