by Adam Noar
Presentation proposals (pitch decks) are essential in the work world. They are often used to pitch new business, to share important ideas, or to make the case for new investment.
Given how important presentation proposals are, why do they so often look amateurish?
There’s a plague of poor presentations in the business world, which should come as no surprise to anyone who’s recently attended a status meeting or industry conference.
But there’s some good news that comes with that plague: You have a huge opportunity to break the mold and create a beautiful and compelling presentation that captures attention and moves your audience to action.
But where should you start? You’re no graphic designer, of course, but you also don’t have to be. There are easy ways to breathe new life into your dull presentation, and they are ready to be put to good use right now.
So, without further adieu, here’s a look at 7 ways to dramatically improve an amateurish presentation proposal.
1.) Get a Quick Win With Your Title Slide
Have you ever bought a book just because the cover intrigued you? That’s perfectly normal, and it’s actually what publishers are striving for. They want buyers to look at the cover of a book and feel like they simply can’t miss out on what’s inside.
Here’s a great example:
Title Slide Example by Massive X Presentation
Use the same approach for your presentation.
Unfortunately, too often the title or cover slide is a complete afterthought. And, in the worst cases, presenters only include the text of a (too often boring) title on the first slide.
This is a huge missed opportunity. And you need not spend hours and hours perfecting your title slide. In fact, we recently wrote about awesome examples of PowerPoint title slides — examples of cover slides that engage and connect with an audience even before the presentation starts.
Title Slide Example by Business Week
Think about those minutes when a crowd is shuffling into a conference or meeting room. Is that just downtime for you to read through your notes one more time? Or, is it a chance to build anticipation with an amazing title slide? Check out the cover slide examples linked above, and you’ll discover that those few minutes truly are a chance to build anticipation.
2.) Pick a Premium Template That Will Give Your Pitch Deck Amazing Head Start
Something funny happens when you use one of PowerPoint’s stock templates — one of the designs that comes prepackaged with the software. Your audience looks at your slides, and they begin to think: “I could have created this.”
And that’s the last thing you want your audience thinking. You’re giving a presentation because you have an idea, product or service to sell. Or perhaps you’re giving a presentation because you have unique knowledge or expertise that you’re sharing to build your personal brand. Or maybe you’re even trying to gain buy-in with an internal audience at your company.
No matter why you’re presenting, you want your audience to think that what you do is extraordinary — something worth seeking out or paying for. And, fair or not, using a stock template undermines your authority and your status as an expert whose opinion should be valued.
So, what’s the solution? Pretty simple: Invest in a premium template. Here’s a look at some of the best presentation templates of 2018. Yes, they will cost you a few bucks. But the return on investment you get from using a premium template is immense.
3.) Incorporate Killer Icons
Presenters make two huge and very different mistakes when creating slides. Some presenters go way too heavy on text, which is a good way to put the audience to sleep. And other presenters go way too heavy on stock images, which often makes your presentation look cheesy and inauthentic.
Icons sets included in the Influencer Presentation Template
Instead of weighing your audience down with heavy text or losing your credibility with cheesy stock images, choose a more elegant solution: well-designed icons. Using the right icons can quickly convey words and ideas at a glance. And, when you use the right icon with limited text, your presentation becomes must more engaging and much easier for the audience to digest.
And here’s the best news: There are now suites of icons that include almost anything you can imagine. Here’s the rundown of our favorite icon sets. Take a look at what’s available, and choose a set that meets your needs. Again, finding the right icon set is a decision that pays big dividends down the road.
4.) Create a Consistent Color Scheme
Hey, we’re not all graphic designers, as noted above. And we can’t all be expected to choose the right composition, words, images, balance and colors for our slides. But there are some shortcuts that anyone can learn — no expertise or specialized knowledge needed — that can improve exponentially the look and feel of our presentations.
And one of those shortcuts is creating a consistent color scheme. It’s easy to choose one of the few stock colors that PowerPoint (or any presenting software) makes available to you. But it’s best to choose a limited palette of colors that will make your presentation feel cohesive and aesthetically pleasing.
Color scheme slide example by Classic – Clean
First, you need to find those palettes. And we’ve provided a head start with our best color combinations.
If creating your own color scheme doesn’t sound appealing, the other option is to purchase a professional presentation template from Graphic River. The templates sold there (including our premium template) already have built-in color schemes that look great.
5.) Find Clever Font Combinations
You’ll probably notice a theme at this point: Stop using standard or default settings with your presentations! When you open a Microsoft product, you’ll most likely start out using Calibri or Cambria or even Times New Roman. Those are what we call “default fonts”.
Many people don’t realize that there are loads of beautiful fonts that you can download for free from places like Font Squirrel.
Font combination slide example by DigitPack
We have a helpful piece on the best font combinations. Check it out and find a pairing that strikes your fancy and that aligns with your brand and message. And don’t worry if the fonts you like aren’t automatically available in your software. You can almost always download the fonts for free and import them into PowerPoint or whatever system you’re using.
6.) Choose Abstract Over Linear
As you can imagine, PowerPoint still holds a huge portion of the presentation market — about 95%, in fact. But Prezi has made up some ground in recent years, and it’s for one reason: Prezi offers a uniquely satisfying and abstract approach to presentations, whereas everything in PowerPoint is linear unless you know some nifty presentation hacks (like adding a “choose your own adventure” table of contents.
“Non-Linear” slide example by Influencer
But here’s a secret you must know: There’s a simple way to make your presentations less linear and more abstract. We already wrote about this approach here. Check it out and give this different approach a chance, and you may find that your audience is far more interested in and engaged with what you have to say.
7.) Ditch the Boring Bullet Points for Innovative Layouts
It’s a tragedy when we keep doing one thing the same way just because that’s the way it’s always been done. It’s also refreshing when someone breaks the mold and does something that goes against convention — leading to striking and beautiful results.
No “boring bullets” slide example by Eureka
Presentations today often include slide after slide of bullet points and text, and the presenter often turns his or her back to the audience and reads those bullet points to them. That’s the way it’s done because that’s the way it’s always been done.
This is a bad way to present. And, deep down, we all know it. But it’s the easiest and fastest way to construct a presentation, and so it’s become the “acceptable” way to stand before an audience and share thoughts.
You can (and should) do better. So don’t be afraid to ditch (or tweaks) those boring bullet points and embrace your inner creativity. We’ve even shared a list of ways you can maintain your bullet points but breathe new life into them and make them far more compelling. In addition, we’ve also covered some great examples of how bullet points can be transformed into more attractive layouts.
Your pitch deck design will have a big impact on how investors view your venture. Whether you are creating a pitch presentation or a reading deck, your slides should be clear, consistent and well structured if you want to impress investors.
At Presentation Panda, creating beautiful, compelling presentations is what we do each and every day. Yes, you can take advantage of the 7 presentation proposal (pitch deck) tips shared above, but you should also know that you can always turn to us for expert guidance and support.
Do you have a big pitch meeting or conference presentation coming up? We can make sure your message gets across as clearly and attractively as possible.
Contact us today about giving your presentation proposal the boost it needs.