by Adam Noar
Here’s the brutal truth about PowerPoint presentations:
Most of them are terrible. Ya, I’m talking about the pull your hair out and stab your hand with a pen kinda terrible!
Let me ask you a question …
Are you getting tired of the same boring stock images, the same so-so fonts, the same unengaging text, the same plain vanilla graphics, the same tired vectors?
If the answer is YES, then we have some really awesome presentation design tips that will turn your slides from super lame to sleek and professional in the blink of an eye. We are going to share with you a bundle of really effective slide design techniques, focusing specifically on images, fonts, whitespace, and custom graphics.
So without further ado, let’s kick this one off with a helpful infographic (below), and then we’ll talk more details about each design tip in the descriptions below.
You can embed this infographic on your site (just copy the code below):
<p>Please include attribution to <a href=’Presentation Panda’>Presentation Panda</a> with this graphic.<br /><br /><a href=’http://presentationpanda.com/blog/5-presentation-design-tips/’><img src=’http://presentationpanda.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Presentation-Design-Tips-PowerPoint-Tips-and-Tricks.png’ alt=’5 Presentation Design Tips for Amazing Looking Slides’ width=” border=’0′ /></a></p>
Presentation Design Tip #1: Find Amazing Images For Your Slides With Unsplash
Photography has always been an integral part of presentation design.
A good presentation image of something or someone helps people relate more to what you are talking about, and illustrates the practical rationale behind your presentation – whether you are discussing sea urchin biology or the hottest new nightlife apps for 2016.
Unfortunately, we’ve grown accustomed to seeing lame presentation stock images of people in suits jumping up in the air.
Not only are a lot of these stock photos tacky, but some of them cost mucho dinero!
Why waste your money?
Luckily, these days there are now tons of places to find high quality, commercial-free images for presentations, but our personal favorite is Unsplash:
Unsplash has nothing but AWESOME images — no bull$%&# ones. Their high-resolution image library is practically an art gallery in itself.
Their website is also super simple to navigate:
It’s clearly been done by a professional designer — and their search bar makes it quick and easy to find the type of image you’re looking for. For example, if you want to find presentation stock images of someone hiking, you can type in “nature” and you will see tons of beautiful nature images with and without people in the shot (we couldn’t resist linking to the page).
And there are so many different types of images to choose from for your presentations. You can find photos of high rise cityscapes, foggy forests, laughing children, or neatly-organized hipster worktables in all their high-resolution glory.
If you know you want to utilize beautiful looking images but don’t want to deal with the burden of choice (how Nietzschean of you) you will probably really like the curated collections on offer. The themes are as varied and plentiful as the oeuvre of Unsplash itself, with different Unsplash users showing off their curatorial talents to come up with the best possible grab bag of designs they can think of.
Keep in mind that these collections aren’t always completely related – for example, you might see a shot of a cute and cuddly walrus in the same collection as a super sleek black and white shot looking up at gleaming steel skyscrapers. But there’s plenty of design inspiration to be gleaned from the Unsplash collections – check out their website if you haven’t already!
Presentation Design Tip #2: Spice Up Your PowerPoint Deck With Cool Fonts From Font Squirrel
Every computer comes with a set of fonts pre-installed as standard. This includes fonts like Arial and Times New Roman (we write these blog posts in Arial. Ugh).
Many people don’t realize that there are other options out there – there are loads of beautiful, simple fonts for presentation slides to choose from.
Today there are tons of custom fonts that you can download for free from places like Font Squirrel.
They have categorized their entire font collection into dozens of different easily searchable categories, making it easy for you to find the ideal font for your type of presentation.
Some personal font favorites that can be downloaded from Font Squirrel include:
Bebas Neue – just like Frank’s Red Hot Sauce you can put that $*&% on everything. We like this font so much that we decided to included in our award winning PowerPoint template Influencer
Pacifico – a presentation font that is not for the faint of heart, this is a great style to use for headers and your title page. Especially great if you want to give off more of a laidback vibe – it’s all in the California-cool name, after all.
Mathlete – like all good presentation fonts, Mathlete is the perfect choice for you if you want to impress your audience with big multi-syllable words in your headers. It only comes in CAPS, which gives off a go-big-or-go-home element to your presentation. But you’ll go big, we’re sure.
Chunk Five – this bold (literally) font is like Arial with a much louder personality. Don’t use this font if you want your audience to be captivated by your every word.
Lobster – not to be confused with Lobster 2, this versatile font makes a great choice for headers or subheader fonts – you can go anywhere on the spectrum of formal to informal with this one.
You can even click on the “most popular” tab and Font Squirrel will pull a list of the most popular fonts people are downloading.
Since Font Squirrel’s fonts are all free to download, there’s really no reason why you wouldn’t want to browse through their highly extensive collection (they have literally hundreds of them available) and see if there’s one that is particularly eye-catching.
Presentation Design Tip #3: Create Whitespace For Your Presentation Images Using Focused Blurs From PicMonkey
As we have talked about in the past, there are ways to create more whitespace when using “busy images” (images that have a lot going on and make it difficult for any text you may add stand out – not get drowned out by the noise of the image). Blurring is one way to add whitespace and make room for your text to shine.
PowerPoint has its own blur tool under the Artistic Effects Tab ( you can access this tab when you double click an image on the slide)
However, sometimes you may not want to blur the entire image because you want a particular part of your image to remain unblurred. That way you can keep the more aesthetically pleasing parts in the focused section of your photo while you fade the unwanted sections of it into the background. So, how do you go about doing this?
Enter PicMonkey, a free online photo editor that makes it super easy to create all-important whitespace without having to waste a lot of time doing it.
By using my “Focused Blur” technique using Pic Monkey you will be able to create … wait for it … a focused blur on a specific part of your image.
Does it seem a bit too intimidating for you to appropriately blur out a photo yourself?
It’s actually quite simple to pull this off.
Here are the steps:
- Find an image you like
- Upload it to Pic Monkey
- Click Edit Image
- Select the “Focal Zoom Feature”
- Select the area that you don’t want to blur and the tool will blur everything else other than that area
Of course if you have PhotoShop you can easily create a focused blur using that as well but I assume many people do not have a copy of PhotoShop – and when you have free photo editing tools for presentations like PicMonkey, you don’t really need to have PhotoShop anyways (that’s a lie, but you know what we mean).
There are lots of super neat tools that PicMonkey has on offer. The Focal Zoom Feature is just one of many of our favorites. There are tons of other great editing possibilities including canvas cropping, image sharpening, and color saturation – go ahead and check out what they have to offer. Once you start using PicMonkey to edit your photos and create lots of beautiful white space for your display text, you won’t ever want to go back!
Presentation Design Tip #4: Use Shape Union Make Your Own Custom PowerPoint Graphics By Combining Shapes
Okay, so what if you go to Unsplash or onto Graphic River looking for a good image or template to use for your presentation, but still come up empty?
Sometimes, the quickest way to get your hands on the perfect image is to create one yourself.
You’ll be surprised how the careful combination of shapes and lines can help you to create an awesome looking image, template, or layout for your slides. And, the nice thing is that this can all be done straight from PowerPoint or Keynote – so you don’t have to go onto some unfamiliar website or download a new software program.
Without trying to sound too general, we should point out that the standard drawing toolbars in PowerPoint or Keynote are SOMETIMES no match for the stunning professional stock imagery that professional graphic designers can put together using advanced image creation tools.
Regardless of your skill level you should definitely be able to adapt your slides to accommodate some really nice graphics. Creating your own custom PowerPoint graphics using shapes isn’t difficult.
Here are the three simple steps:
- Arrange some shapes however you want
- Select all of your shapes you want to combine
- Click on the Shape Union tool
Voila! Now you have a quick and dirty custom-made graphic for your presentation, and you did it without having to consult with an expensive professional designer.
Presentation Design Tip #5: Save Time Creating Custom Graphics For Your PowerPoint Slides with FreePik
If you have ever come across a stunning presentation there is a good chance that it was filled with nice looking vector graphics.
What are vector graphics?
Vector images are not like bitmap images that are based on pixels. Vector images use a mathematical formula to draw the images onscreen. That’s why they always look nice and crisp when scaled to fit anywhere from a wall-sized projection screen to your laptop.
Generally speaking, vector images are made up of a bunch of shapes that when combined represent the image. Because of this, they can be ungrouped and the individual shapes can be edited. That might sound pretty intimidating if you have never tried playing around with image editing software before, but we promise it’s really not that hard to figure out.
With Freepik you can download the images for free and use them commercially IF you provide attribution (give credit). If you don’t want to provide attribution you can pay a monthly fee of $10. We highly recommend putting up the $10 (just charge it to your company credit card) so that you don’t have lame copyright attribution blurbs making you look like a complete amateur.
The design of your presentation isn’t something to be underestimated or overlooked. If you have a simple, elegant PowerPoint presentation it makes a positive and strong impact on your viewers.
Hopefully the presentation tips and tricks we have shared with you here will help you master the important details that make a good presentation great.
So are you already using any one of these presentation hacks that we’ve discussed? What are some design deficiencies you have battled before that maybe you can fix by utilizing one of these principles? Let me know what you think and please try to be as specific as possible. Sound off in the comments below!
Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these presentation design tips? If so, email them this post.
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Hungry for more presentation design tips just like these? Check these out: