Usually, I share these tips by way of an actual PowerPoint presentation, but for the interest of providing a simple and easy reference, I am sharing them in this article. The tips I share here are not the step-by-step directions you would need to follow to create a PowerPoint presentation from start to finish. The tips I share are for the actual content and design expectations that will help your presentations instead of hindering them.
Slide Design: Background
PowerPoint software includes many bells and whistles that may seem fun to the designer, but are usually unnecessary, even distracting to the audience. When you design a presentation, use only slide transitions, images, and sounds that add to your message, not just things that are fun and cute. Choose a background slide design that truly functions as a background. Make sure you can read the text easily and that the colors of the background can be stared at for a lengthy time without hurting the audience members’ eyes.
Additionally, do not use a slide background that is irrelevant to your message. For example, if you are designing a presentation for a professional meeting, using the crayon background is unrelated and inappropriate.
Slide Design: Color
Choose colors that are easy on the eyes, especially for long periods of time. Red has been proven to be the most difficult color to view on screen for a long time. When in doubt, go with the standard white background or with muted shades of green or blue. It is always best to go with muted tones instead of the brightest shades possible.
Slide Design: Contrast
The background colors and the text colors should have enough contrast to make it easy to read. To create enough contrast, use a light background with a dark text color or vice versa.
Text: Size and Style
Make sure the text is large enough to read from a distance. There are varying opinions on how large the text has to be – to test it out, set the font size and view it from the back of the room to see if it is easy to read. Choose fonts that are straight instead of fonts with squiggly lines and script formats. Simple fonts are much easier to read on screen.
It is best to use bullet points and sentence fragments rather than full sentences. It is easier for the audience members to read and retain short chunks of information from the slides. On most slides, try to put only 3-5 main points so the audience members have something specific to focus on (without shoving too much in their faces all at once). DO NOT put your entire presentation text on the screen and then stand there reading directly from the screen the whole time. Slides are used to share specific points you want the audience to retain, not to display an entire book report.
Avoid placing the text too close to the edges. Keep some white space. Not only does it look better, but it accounts for different screen resolutions (so none of your text gets cut off).
Use these tips to make all of your future presentations successful. If your slides are easy to read, your information will be easier to retain.