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5 Embarrassing Presentation Design Mistakes to Avoid

Presentation Design Tips - 5 Mistakes to Avoid

Like double edged swords, blind dates, and nuclear power plants, either a PowerPoint presentation can go really well and make you look totally awesome or it can completely suck and be the scourge of your existence. If you’re a savvy panda you’re no doubt aware that there are certain flaws in presentation design which can wreck an otherwise perfectly good slide presentation.

In case you’re well-versed in the do’s of presentation design but need some reinforcement about the don’ts to make sure you don’t screw up an otherwise perfect presentation, here are FIVE PRESENTATION DESIGN TIPS to remember the next time you create a presentation.

Presentation Design Mistake #1: Using Display Fonts For Body Copy

PowerPoint Design Tips - Don't Overuse Display Fonts

As tempting as it is to use that super cool looking display font for your body copy, in practice it looks absolutely terrible, and in some cases it is downright illegible. Using a display font such as “Pacifico” throughout the entirety of your text is kind of like wearing a ballgown or tuxedo to the grocery store when you are doing your vegetable shopping. While you might look great in your ultra-fancy three thousand dollar dress with all the bells and whistles, it does not belong in the pasta aisle (sorry if I burst anyone’s bubble). The same can be said for using display fonts in your body copy: most likely you will confuse a bunch of people, no matter how good it looks.

Display fonts are fonts that are better suited to small areas of text, not body copy. This is because a title or subheader, which is where you summarize an entire slide in a few words, is the core of the slide. As such it requires a special text to highlight its important, and that is why it is a good idea for you to use flashy fonts such as Pacifico to grab your audience’s attention. But please, please, please do not make the mistake of using the same font in your entire body. To give you an idea of how messed up it looks, here is a side-by-side comparison of a slide with entirely the same font and one where the header font changes to something more legible in the body section.

I see this terrible design crime committed all the time in PowerPoint presentations, and the affect is cringe-worthy illegible text which serves no other purpose than to make the presenter look like a fool for choosing such a flashy font. There is a time and place for display type, and body copy is not the place to do it!

Presentation Design Mistake #2: Lengthy Line Spillover

PowerPoint Tips - Lengthy Line Spill Over

This seems like a nit-picky sort of problem, but it is the sort of minor detail that can turn an important presentation into an amateur hour piece of you-know-what if you’re not careful.

With no offense meant to the downtrodden, we in the copywriting and presentation design industries refer to a specific kind of design flaw in presentations as orphans and widows. An orphan refers to one or two trailing words in a paragraph that end up spilling over an extra line in your slide and looking quite forlorn, dejected and despairing by themselves—just like orphans in real life. A widow refers to when a column of text is too big to fit within one window on the slide and so a final line or two—just big enough to make the format look super awkward—gets cut off and left at the top of the next window. Widowed lines tend to wail for their beloved body paragraphs, emanating feelings of woe and sadness across the rest of your slide.

The odd few widows and orphans are inevitably bound to pop up in any type-based design you undertake, so recognizing them and dealing with them is a must to ensure that your presentation looks flawless and is despair and sadness-free. Luckily it is not very hard to correct this sort of mistake and keep your words from becoming orphaned and your lines from becoming widowed. When it comes to dealing with orphans and widows you have a few options at your disposal:

  • Manually edit the text to adjust the line length to remove the problem altogether.
  • Adjust the margins of your slides to allow for wider or narrower columns.
  • Change your font to conserve or eat up more space, depending on the font and size.
  • Decrease the amount of words you use. This is probably your best bet—less is always more when it comes to presentation slides, because they’re not supposed to be wordy in the first place.

Keep words from spilling over onto the next line and columns from spilling over to the next window of the slide—doing so will give your presentation a shipshape, smooth appearance.

Presentation Design Mistake #3: Throwing Multiple Random Images on One Slide

Presentation Design Tips - Multiple Random Images

There is nothing wrong with using images to illustrate your presentation and give it that extra little touch to make your point or add the right sort of visual vibe to your message. However, it is easy to get a bit carried away and go image crazy on your slide, which is not what you want to do.

As a general rule of thumb you almost never want to use more than one image on a single slide. Anything more than that simply looks too cluttered and will give your presentation a really disorderly appearance, which is something you should definitely aim to avoid. Remember: Presentation slides are meant to look sleek and simple—they’re not supposed to look like a Picasso cubist collage!
When you select images to use in your slide be sure to make sure they directly compliment the topic. If your topic is about marine biology, don’t throw in a random picture of a guy dressed in a penguin suit, unless there’s a direct tie-in (I’m doubtful). If your topic is about summer fashion trends, keep your images on point and show people dressed in summer clothing, not wearing long winter coats (unless you’re trying to be ironic or you are discussing summer fashion at the North Pole). As obvious as this seems, I’ve seen some pretty disastrous slide images that have nothing to do with the topic at hand, so that’s why I’m telling you this.

Respect the audience you’re presenting to and avoid using any sort of crass or vulgar images (unless your audience is the sort that appreciates that sort of thing). Make sure that when you do use an image, it is a high resolution one and will look beautiful and pleasing to the eye when it is blown up to full-screen proportions on a projection screen.

Another great tip to remember is that by no means should you feel obligated to use images for every single slide presentations. Yes, people are highly visual creatures. However, there’s nothing wrong with having certain slides that are solely text, so long as you keep your words concise and follow the other design tips in this article.

Presentation Design Mistake #4: Slapping Solid Text Boxes Over a Busy Picture

PowerPoint Design Tips - 5 Mistakes To Avoid

Oh, the horror. When you insert an image with a lot of stuff going on, the last thing it needs is a layer of text. Well, actually, I take that back: the only thing worse than putting a solid text box over a busy picture is to put a lot of text in that box!

In case you are wondering what this nightmarish presentation design mistake looks like, here is a great (and by great I mean terrible) example:

There are actually two crimes being committed here:

  • The picture chosen has no white or negative space to place text in without blocking out part of the image
  • The designer tries (and fails) to fix the problem by first inserting a solid color box over the image and then placing text directly over the shape

It doesn’t take an MFA in graphic design to see that this is a poor example of smart presentation design. The composition of the image comes off as extremely cramped, because there is too much happening within the frame, even before the addition of text. And placing the words and that hideous box over the picture makes it look like you hired a lazy monkey to make your slides. I’m guessing that’s not the impression you are looking to make with your clients.

Fortunately there are some easy ways to prevent this sort of image atrocity from happening. If you really want to add text onto an image, look for photos that have plenty of whitespace or are blurry. These are perfect for adding words without giving off a cramped feel. Additionally, there are some super useful and easy tricks to manipulating your presentation images before you overlay them with text.

You’re welcome.

Presentation Design Mistake #5: Formatting Inconsistency

PowerPoint Design Tips - Inconsistent Formatting

Formatting a presentation slide is like balancing the books for a business: it ain’t sexy, but if you don’t do it right then your whole enterprise will fall of kilter like a house of cards in a breeze. Whether you are dealing with just a few slides or a hundred of them, it is super important to set up a style guide and stick to it. Consistency is fundamental to beautiful, orderly slide presentations—the only thing worse than using monochrome, boring design elements is using boring design elements inconsistently!

If you decide that you’re going to use Times New Roman (heaven forbid—you can find tons of stylish fonts here) as the font for a slide, for the love of all things cute cuddly and bamboo-munching, please remember to make sure it stays that way for the duration of the slide. For a super formal presentation it is best to avoid switching fonts between slides altogether, because a coordinated slideshow will look much more professional if there are not font deviations throughout the presentation.

If you decide to use graphic design elements such as borders, frames, and other visual patterns on your slides, make sure that they also remain consistent. Don’t switch from a retro faux iron grille pattern on one slide to a minimalist modern black line border on the next. When you keep external visual elements the same it lends a heightened sense of unity and conformity to your design, which is always a good thing.

You should also keep in mind that it is a bad idea to vary your colors and backgrounds too often. At the very least make sure that you keep these aspects of your presentation complimentary, or simply decide upon one set type of style and stick with it for the entirety of the presentation. The resulting coherence will do wonders for the look and feel of your design.
Yes, formatting isn’t so exciting, but take it upon yourself to make sure that your formatting is consistent and your presentations will benefit for it.


PowerPoint Design Tips - 5 Common Mistakes To Avoid

Presentation design, no matter how subtle it may seem, is too important to neglect—you want to make sure you get it right.

It is the sort of underrated characteristic that might not seem like a big deal, but if something such as your formatting is off or the images you use are low resolution, it might make a potential client hesitate before hiring you for a project—if you can’t make an effective PowerPoint presentation, are you going to be careless when you’re working for someone else?

I hope that you won’t be making any of these five presentation design mistakes in the future.

Here’s my question for you:

Have you ever created or seen a presentation that had mismatched slides, random images, or any of the other design flaws discussed here? If so, how was the presentation received? Let me know what you think below and please try to be specific as possible. Also, which of these mistakes do you see the most in other people’s presentations? 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 the link to this post.

Thanks for sharing and be sure to post this article on Twitter of Facebook as well (by using the sharing buttons to the left).

Hungry for more presentation design tips? Here are some suggested articles:

Hungry for more tips? Here are a few articles you might like:

5 Presentation Tools That Will Make Your Slides Stand Out

7 Presentation Design Trends You Need To Know About

10 Professional Presentation Templates That Don’t Suck

This post was also featured on SlideShare … Click here to follow us on SlideShare.

Presentation tips - Check out my ebook Slides Made Slimple Now!


5 Presentation Tools That Will Make Your Slides Stand Out

Presentation Design Tips - 5 Tools To Make Creating Slides Easier

Like an elegantly crafted ham sandwich, cheeseburger, or croque monsieur, a good PowerPoint presentation is filled with yummy details that accentuate your talking points and keep your audience perked up and salivating to learn more.

This is why it’s so important to consider not only the content of your presentation, but also the way in which it is presented. Ever endure a monochrome presentation at a conference before? Even if it was about an interesting topic, chances are that you probably felt bored within a couple minutes. A well-thought out presentation design will make a ton of difference in captivating your audience and ensure that you don’t hear snoring during your presentation.

Lucky for you, there are tons of FREE PRESENTATION TOOLS at your disposal to enhance your slides and turn them from boring to awesome. Here at Presentation Panda, we’re all about finding clever hacks to pimp out your slides in record time. Whether it’s coming up with gorgeous backgrounds for your slides, selecting complimentary font styles, or innovating with screenshots and other images, it’s little things like this that will take your presentation from good to great. That’s why you’ll love these five presentation design tools: they’re free, easy to use, and will make your next presentation look fantastic.

Presentation Tool #1: The Pattern Library

PowerPoint Design Tips - ThePattern Library

Presentation Design Tips - The Pattern Library

The Pattern Library is a free project started by graphic designers Tim Holman and Claudio Guglieri. Navigating the site is simple: you scroll endlessly through rich images custom designed by graphic designers from all over the web, and when you find one you like you hover your mouse over the title of the image in the upper left corner and then click to download.

One of the lovely features of Pattern Library is that its seemingly infinite collection of images fit just about every scenario, palate, and topic imaginable. Themes such as “White Wood” and “Leather Nunchuck” hew towards minimalist Scandinavian aesthetics, while whimsical themes such as “Ahoy” or this mouth-watering “Fried Chicken and Waffles” background present a lighter tone for your presentation. You can also find color-based themes, ethnic/cultural themes, and more.

These free patterns can easily be used within your designs to pep them up, or simply as some inspiration if you’re not quite sure what to make your presentation about. Since Pattern Library is open source and literally any designer can contribute his or her creations to the project, it doubles as a great way to search for talented designers who might be able to help you with other design-related projects you have in the works.

Bonus Tip:

Of course, maybe the kind of topic you’re presenting on, or the audience you’re presenting to, isn’t interested in seeing slides with loopy science-themed graphics (which is a darn shame, because we’re all about making slides fun). In that case, another great database full of more SUBTLE patterns to use on your slide is the aptly-named Subtle Patterns, which is much less in-your-face than Pattern Library but no less beautiful.

Like Pattern Library, Subtle Patterns features open-source, downloadable content from designers all over the world. Unlike Pattern Library, instead of bright colors and richly-detailed themes, the ones here skew towards cream, off-white, beige, gray, and occasionally black. The grayscale chromatics are complimented to perfection by more subdued details, such as swirls, chevrons and other geometric patterns, and the patterns sometimes feature tongue-in-cheek names such as Honey I’m Subtle. That said, you can still find less conventional design details in the Subtle Patterns library, such as wild flowers. What all of the Subtle Patterns designs have in common is a focus on muted tones and colors, allowing your presentation’s content to really pop forward.

Presentation Tool #2: Type Genius

Presentation Design Tips - PowerPoint Tips - Type Genius

Presentation Tips - Type Genius

Ah, Type Genius. It doesn’t get any simpler, creative—or genius—than this. Need to pair two fonts together? Type Genius finds the perfect match for one font type, and gives you a live example of the two fonts working together. This site lets you peek over the shoulder of other designers to see which fonts look great together.

Even the biggest design n00b in the world can figure out how Type Genius works in approximately 2 seconds, which is one of the reasons it’s such a great design tool for presentation slides, not to mention any other type of design work involving complimentary fonts. First you select a starter font, which is probably the single most challenging part of using this great design site. And really, it’s only difficult because of the dizzying array of 53 font choices at your disposal.

If you’re in the mood for something bold and eye-catching, especially if it’s a header, a font such as Bebas Neue might be exactly what you’re looking for. But what, pray tell, should you do with the body text in your presentation slide? This is where Type Genius comes in and does the heavy lifting for you. It curates a shortlist of perfectly complimentary typesets and fonts that will look great alongside your starter font, saving you from the headache of having to figure it all out yourself.

Each complimentary font in the shortlist comes with a nifty text sample on the page so you can see what it looks like in situ. Type Genius would already be fantastically useful if it stopped here, but it doesn’t. Adjacent to the text sample is a screenshot of a real life website utilizing the starter font you originally select and the complimentary font suggested by Type Genius, so you can see what your font looks like in the wild (kind of like how watching pandas in the wild is a more authentic experience than seeing them stuck in a zoo).

Lastly, you can go directly to the font page on Adobe Typekit and download it, browse other similar fonts, view what the font looks like in various weights and styles such as bold, italics, and font size. Adobe Typekit also provides more information about the font designer, in case you want to see more work by the same creator. The next time you’re setting up a presentation and looking for the perfect font design, look no further.

Presentation Tool #3: Place It

PowerPoint Tools - Texture King

Presentation Design Tips - PowerPoint Tips - PlaceIt

If you like the concept of Skitch and recognize the importance of utilizing awesome screenshots, you’ll definitely love Place It. If you want to take it one step further and package your screenshot in a fun and engaging way, this is the design tool you’ve always dreamed of.

Perhaps calling it a tool isn’t really the right word; it basically contextualizes an image, screenshot, or even video recorded on your device directly onto one of over six hundred free product mockups. You can drag and drop your screenshot or other image directly into the mockup.

Pretty much any scenario you can possibly imagine is accounted for in Place It’s series of mockups. You can keep things simple with still image mockups of screenshots on a Macbook Pro and nothing else, or you can get crazy and place screengrabs from your smartphone directly into mockup scenes that run the gamut of your imagination. There are mockups scenes of a guy drinking bourbon, a woman sitting on a bench in a park, and even a woman sitting in her living room reading a book with her lapdog by her side. In other words, there’s probably a scene that’s perfect for whatever topic your presentation might be about.

The great benefit of using Place It mockups to present screenshots or video of your app in action can’t be overestimated. Nothing makes a better impact than showing your audience exactly what your product can do in real life, which is why Place It should be an integral part of your presentation design toolbox. Showing a video featuring hand gestures and engaging user videos will convey a greater sense of realism and add that extra bit of jazz to your presentation. It is worth pointing out that if you’d like a higher resolution image, you can pay per image or buy a subscription, but neither of these cost very much, and in any case the default image resolution settings are already more than acceptable.

Presentation Tool #4: Skitch

PowerPoint Design Tips - Skitch - Screenshot Tool

Presentation Design Tips - ScreenShot Tool - Skitch

When you need to further illustrate a point in your presentation, sometimes that purpose can be served by including a screenshot. While you can always turn to Microsoft Paint to capture a screenshot and to do basic annotation, it’s a clearly limited, primitive program and can make your presentation screenshots look lackluster.  There are other screen capture tools out there, but none of them allow you to annotate and customize images to a great degree. The solution to boring, plain vanilla screenshots is Skitch, an app designed by Evernote and available across just about every platform, including Microsoft, Apple, and Android.

Skitch is a super user-friendly screen capture tool—most of the reviews in the Google Store mention how easy and quick it is to use– that is designed to do just that, but it takes it one level further by allowing for richly customized screen annotations that can be saved a JPG, BMP, TIFF, or PNG files. Draw your audience’s attention by highlighting, outlining, and marking up especially important parts of your screenshot. A deep treasure trove of add-on features such as pop-up shapes, arrows, and quick sketches facilitates your presentation with fewer words, which is always a plus. And because of Skitch’s intuitive design, it is ideal for manipulating images from your smartphone or tablet.

If there is a caveat to using Skitch, it is that it is a freemium app. Most of the content is free to use, but if you want to turn notes into presentations or access notes while you’re offline you’ll have to pay either $25 or $50 to upgrade it for a year. Still, it’s an invaluable tool for adding simple-to-read screenshots on your presentations, so it’s an investment worth making.

Best Presentation Template - Best PowerPoint Template - Professional Presentation Template

Presentation Tool #5: Texture King

PowerPoint Tools - Presentation Design Tips - Texture King

PowerPoint Tips - Textures - Presentation Design Tips

You never quite know when you need a good texture, and we don’t always have the option to go out and take a snapshot of them ourselves, so that’s where computer generated textures come to the rescue. With a huge database of meticulously organized textures, Texture King will make sure your presentations will never be devoid of rich, evocative textures again.

What makes Texture King so remarkable is that its offers a diverse field of pretty much every texture theme you can think of. Categories include concrete, wood, stone/rock, metals, fabric, paint, rust, plastic, dirt/sand, liquids, glass, plaster, and something wonderful called grunge. Besides offering incredibly beautiful themes, any design site that has a category named after music best associated with plaid shirts, long greasy hair, and Kurt Cobain is pretty awesome.

All those different textures go a very long way in giving your presentation slides a distinct and bold personality, which is something completely lacking in so many basic PowerPoint presentations. If you are delivering a presentation on contemporary architectural design trends, your choice of a distressed concrete texture theme will be a subtle nod to the increasingly popular use of industrial materials. If your presentation is about the real estate foreclosure market in California then a chipped plaster theme might give off a subtle undertone of disrepair and neglect, which is pretty much true for a lot of empty bank-owned homes.

Beyond the subtle pairing of a texture with a complimentary presentation topic, the implementation of a high quality texture background like the ones available from Texture King means that your presentations will look really, really beautiful. While content itself is king, it’s the addition of richly textured backgrounds that will shoot your presentations over the top and grab your audience’s attention.


Presentation design is all about making your design compliment your content.

Using these design tools will take you one step closer to building the perfect slides and engaging your audience as effectively as possible.

So, here’s my question to you:

After reading this article can you see how even something as subtle as font design or the way you present a screenshot can grab someone’s attention? How do you think you can utilize apps such as Skitch or Place It to make an out-of-the-box impact on your next presentation? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these presentation design tips? If so, email them the link to this post.

Thanks for reading and be sure to share this article if you enjoyed it (by using the sharing buttons to the left).

Hungry for more tips? Here are a few articles you might like:

5 Presentation Font Trends for 2015

7 Presentation Design Trends You Need To Know About

10 Professional Presentation Templates That Don’t Suck

This post was also featured on SlideShare … Click here to follow us on SlideShare.

Presentation tips - Check out my ebook Slides Made Slimple Now!
Best PowerPoint Template - Professional PowerPoint Template - Cool PowerPoint Template - Influencer PowerPoint Template


Impress Your Audience by Following These 5 Presentation Design Trends

presentation design tips - presentation trends 2015

Similar to websites, presentation design trends change over time and are influenced by a number of different factors.

The following is a list five presentation design trends I expect to continue to see this year and what you can look forward to in the presentation design world.

Trend #1: Continuous Scrolling

Cool PowerPoint Template - Presentation Design Trends

PowerPoint Tips - 2015 Presentation Design Trends

A new trend in presentations is to make them continuously scroll (similar to how you would scroll down a website). The idea behind this is that the slide design bleeds seamlessly into the next one, which creates a bomb-tastic aesthetic effect and probably will wow your audience more than the usual isolated slideshow.

As you can see from the above template from Graphic River the presentation designer has done a nice job creating a continuous scrolling effect. Note: it’s hard to show the full effect from the static images above. When your’re running the presentation (i.e., in slide show mode) and move to the next slide the templates built in animation will push the current slide up (and the next slide up simultaneously) to reveal the new slide (creating a cool transition effect). Click here to view the entire template. The template costs $20 if you wish to download it.

If you want to create this continuous scrolling effect yourself you will need to take one or more objects from the first slide you create and crop the object so that part of the object is bleeding off the slide (as shown in the first slide above). Then, after you have cropped the first half of the object on the first slide, you will want to take the second half of the cropped image and align it exactly where the other slide left off (as shown in the second slide above).

Finally, select a sliding transition (either up, down, left, or right) that moves from one part of the slide to the next. To select the transition simply:

1) Click the “Transitions” tab

2) Click on the “Push” transition option

3) Click on “Effect Options” and select the direction you want the slide to push from (depending on where you placed your bleeding edge object)

When you think about it, having a continuously flowing slideshow is a great way to keep people paying attention, especially if you can integrate your graphics to tell a story in themselves like this example slide.

And if that’s not enough of a reason to create slides that look like this, I’m sure you can agree that it just looks really damn cool. Sometimes that’s reason enough.

Trend #2: Flat Style Design

2015 PowerPoint design trends - flat design

Flat design is a trend that’s been around now for a while, but there are no signs of it getting any less popular. What exactly is flat style design, and why is it so cool? In simple terms, flat design is a revolt against “visual trickery” with the aim to simplify images and visual messages as much as possible. The nice thing about this trend is that creating flat design images for your presentations is relatively simple. In other words, you don’t have to be a hardcore graphic designer to create flat design images.

Flat design has emerged onto the scene just as realism, which imitates real-world textures and materials, looks more dated as time goes by. Realism made sense several years ago, when touchscreen phones and tablets were new and there was a bit of a gimmicky quality to making icons and buttons appear three dimensional (think of the Instagram logo or the home page button on an Android OS from 2011). With the passing of time, people have become accustomed to their smartphones. They don’t need gimmicky, flashy designs; they need simple, elegant designs.

With an aesthetic that revolves around simplicity, flat design styles tend to have certain characteristics that eschew previous trends in design. Gone is the application of shadows behind images such as clickable buttons or icons to make them appear three-dimensional. Gone is the special effect from sophisticated color palettes; flat design prefers bold, bright, simple color palettes for contrast and detail. Gone is the three dimensional appearance of company logos, weather icons, email “send” buttons, app icons, and on and on and on.

This isn’t to say that the flat design revolution is not sophisticated or elegant; on the contrary, flat design style’s elegance is precisely attributable to a more nuanced and subtle flair. There are plenty of flat design sets which look fantastic and will add the perfect tone to your presentation. We see flat design everywhere these days, from Spotify’s music player to Windows 8.

True to form, it’s pretty darn easy to come up with great looking flat design images from scratch. If you’re interested in a few pointers you should check out this great article on designing image slides using PowerPoint. You can also find tons of great downloadable flat icons for presentation on NounProject, so your slides will be anything but boring. And if you’re still stuck for ideas, stock photo websites such as iStock or Shutterstock feature plenty of flat design vector images for incorporating into presentations.

Trend #3: Retro Design

Presentation design trends - retro design

Depending on what year you’re in, what’s considered retro might be considered passé the next.

Right now there’s a movement towards implementing fonts and styles from the roaring 20s (think Great Gatsby), banners and font from the 50s and 60s, and also font and background styles reminiscent of Old Western films from the 50s.

So how can retro styles from fifty years ago or more be applied to your presentation slides of today? Take a look at the example above, which was creating using a retro style banner. Notice that not only are the fonts, banners, and icons retro, but so are the backgrounds and textures available as well—make sure that every facet of your presentation’s design is complimentary in some way.

Another trend is to take photos and give them a retro, washed-out sort of look. Instagram has pretty much made its name off of using filters to give images a straight-out-of-grandma’s-photo-album look. Pic Monkey has a beautiful filter that’s perfect for achieving whatever sort of look you’re looking for, and even Flickr has a nifty photo editor to alter images you find in their immense user-curated catalogs (just remember to make sure it’s legal to download and use for commercial purposes).

Trend #4: Handwritten Design

presentation design tips - handrawn images

There’s something special about handwritten style that no amount of slim, elegant type fonts will ever replace. Perhaps this timelessness is one reason why handwritten fonts, banners, and designs are becoming more and more popular. Particularly in people-driven industries such as retail or travel—especially the kind that’s budget-friendly—a slightly informal bent can go a long way in relaxing the tone.

As consumers become more wary of buying from impersonal marketing campaigns or plain-vanilla marketing, the value and impact of using handwritten fonts and graphics only grows. There are tons of great handwritten fonts out there (along with adventure) that can be downloaded for free if you know where to look. For a look and feel of authenticity and personalization, Fontsquirrel is a great resource, plus it’s completely free!

Apart from stunning handwritten fonts for your presentation, it’s also a great idea to add handwritten icons and other types of graphics. Graphic River is a great place to start if you’re looking for anything from a clever hand drawn arrow or any other type of images that could compliment your design.

And on the topic of handwritten style, don’t forget: if you have the talent (or know someone who does), you can always actually draw out whatever you’d like and then scan it and upload it into your presentation.

Trend #5: The Death of the Stock Photo

Presentation Design Tips - Death to the Stock Photo

Remember when stock photos were used for selling those weird products in the SkyMall magazine?

It’s no wonder that in this day and age, stock photos do very little when it comes to generating a positive reaction. The stock photo is by definition an impersonal, impossible, airbrushed version of some bizarre existence that is completely detached from reality, and the market has finally noticed. You know that it’s time to stop using stock photos for serious business when there is a blog devoted to juxtaposing stock images and porn website users’ comments (technically there’s nothing NSFW about it, but in the name of good taste I’ll leave it to you to find said blog). What I can show you is a random article from the humor site Cracked, which has been using stock images from Getty for an untold amount of years now. When a website best known for publishing pieces such as “The 6 Most Ridiculous Things People Claimed to Legally Own” uses stock images with funny captions as their calling card, you know it’s time to lay off the stock images for your own business presentations, marketing, and anything else requiring an image of something.

So what does a PowerPoint presentation look like with images that aren’t from Getty or Shutterstock? Pretty awesome, it turns out.

In lieu of using completely generic images to make your point, start using actual photos that don’t just seem super weird and random. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t touch up details or use image filters, which as discussed previously can be done with apps such as Instagram or Pic Monkey. Use images—REAL ONES—that evoke emotions. Images that aren’t full of fake smiles and perfect lighting will make your point much better than a stock image ever could, and will add a ton of genuineness to whatever it is that you’re talking about.

If you’re still not sure what’s wrong with using stock photos to deliver your presentation, I’ll let Vince Vaughn tell you for me.


Presentation design is impacted by the design world in many different ways.

It’s important to make sure that your presentation designs are up-to-date with the times in order to show that your business is “with it.”

I hope that you found the five presentation trends presented here today useful.

Here’s my question for you …

After reading this article, do you think you will try incorporating some of these presentation design trends into your upcoming presentations? Let me know what you think below and please try to be specific as possible. Also, which of these trends excites you the most? Sound off in your comments below!

Lastly, do you have a friend that could benefit from learning about these presentation design tips? If so, email them the link to this post.

Thanks for sharing and be sure to post this article on Twitter of Facebook as well (by using the sharing buttons to the left).

Hungry for more information on presentation design trends? Here are some suggested articles:

5 Presentation Font Trends for 2015

7 Presentation Design Trends You Need To Know About

10 Professional Presentation Templates That Don’t Suck

Presentation tips - Check out my ebook Slides Made Slimple Now!


10 Professional PowerPoint Templates That Will Cut Your Design Time in Half!

professional powerpoint templates - 10 templates that don't suck

Having a cool PowerPoint template is CRITICAL if you want to have slides that will WOW an audience.

There are many different slide templates available online. Unfortunately, a good majority of these templates suck!

A well-crafted PowerPoint template has to get a lot of things right—from the fonts used in the slides to the graphics and colors in the presentation—and it’s by no means an easy feat.

If you don’t have the time to create your own template, or simply don’t want to create your own template, I recommend visiting Graphic River to purchase a pre-designed template that you can later customize with your own content and images.

Graphic River is essentially a marketplace for all things graphic related (templates, vector graphics, icons, fonts, etc.) and they sell professional presentation templates that are created by top graphic designers around the world. There are lots of different styles to choose from (over 2,000 templates and counting). And don’t worry… these PowerPoint templates look NOTHING like the boring templates that come with PowerPoint. Most of the good templates run around $15-$20 and you can be rest assured about quality because all of the templates submitted have to meet the high standards set by the Graphic River team.

The benefits of purchasing a professional PowerPoint template from Graphic River include:

  • Save Time – With a purchased template you can focus more on honing your message and less on building a template framework.
  • Elegant Design – The templates are clean, minimal, and look professional.
  • Customizable – All the templates are easy to customize. Simply add your text and swap out any images/graphics you don’t want.
  • Customer Support – If you ever have any questions about the template you can leave a comment and the person who designed the template will get back to you fairly quickly.
  • Designed for PowerPoint – The templates are designed to be edited in PowerPoint. No additional software needed.
  • Animations Included – For many of the templates offered, there are custom animations built into the template. If you don’t want the animations you can always remove them.

Note: Some of the PowerPoint slide templates are nicer than others, so make sure that you shop around. You can sort the templates by a number of different categories including: date, author, category, rating, sales, and price.

To save you time, I have reviewed and HANDPICKED some of the best templates from the Graphic River website. When you’re done checking these out I would love to know which one you like best! Seriously, leave me a comment! :)

Let’s get started!

Note: If you like any of these professional presentation templates, you can click on the template’s image (or click the link that says “Download Here”) to be taken  directly to Graphic River to purchase the template. Many of the templates discussed are also available in Keynote (for Mac users).

“Six” PowerPoint Template

PowerPoint templates - six template

The Six template is one of the best sellers on Graphic River and has over 4,600 sales to date.

It’s pretty easy to see why people gravitate towards this template. It has a modern and professional look which can be used across many different industries. There are a total of 45 slides to choose from and the template comes in 4 different color themes (including a dark version and light version).

One of the nice things about the Six template is that it has plenty of sleek and uncluttered-looking diagrams and charts.

A few other important mentions:

  • The template comes in both 4:3 and 16:9 format (i.e., Normal and Widescreen Mode)
  • Available in both PowerPoint and Keynote
  • Uses Novecento and Cantarell fonts

Download Here

Probrand” PowerPoint Template

cool powerpoint templates

If you are looking for a clean and creative business presentation look no further than the Probrand template. Probrand features 58 slides and comes with 4 different color themes. I would say the best part about this template is that many of the slides have a strong “sleek factor” to them, which almost makes the slides come across as “edgy.” This type of template would go great with any technology related presentations.

A few other important mentions:

  • 16:9 format only
  • 4 different color themes
  • Available in both PowerPoint and Keynote
  • Uses Oswald font

Download Here

Influencer” PowerPoint Template

Best PowerPoint Template - Professional PowerPoint Template - Cool PowerPoint Template - Influencer Presentation Template.jpg

Our team of Panda’s felt a strong yearning to create our own MAGICAL template that could take your presentations to the next level.

So after many a day and night of diligent work, many cups of coffee, and a veritable landfill’s worth of trash bins overflowing with scrapped designs, we have finally developed a professional presentation template that truly rocks!

A lot of love and tender care went into making each and every slide and we developed 200 UNIQUE slides for you to pick and choose from!! The possibilities are endless!

Best PowerPoint Template - Cool Presentation Template - Influencer Template


There are so many awesome features with this template including tons of sleek graphics and images, a clickable (choose your own adventure) “prezi like” table of contents, sleek animations and transitions, parallax scrolling, over 500 modern icons, beyond beautiful layouts, and much much more!

We get excited just thinking about it!

Download Here

“Grid” PowerPoint Template

professional powerpoint templates

Grid is another best-selling template with over 2,000 downloads to date. It features 32 modern yet minimalist slides, which leaves the slides feeling clean and uncluttered. It has a simple color scheme (blue and white), but you can choose among 6 other color options. With the Grid template your information will be displayed in a straightforward manner. The template is also a bit more conservative. Therefore, if you know your audience leans on the conservative (i.e., less edgy) side this template might be a great fit.

A few other important mentions:

  • 4:3 and 16:9 format
  • There are custom animated pages included
  • Features a combination of Arial and Bebas Neue fonts (one of Presentation Panda’s favorite fonts)
  • Available in PowerPoint only

Download Here

“Motagua” PowerPoint Template

cool powerpoint templates - slide templates - montagua

Motagua is a sexy template that will enchant your audience with its clean and elegant design. Beyond its sleek looks, it’s easy to change colors and modify shapes, texts, and charts.

Motagua is a steal considering it provides over 400 unique and fresh slides! The presentation template has a “corporate” look to it, an excellent choice for marketing presentations. Lastly, it contains a large number of graphics, stock photography, and custom illustrations which makes it stand out from all the rest. Motagua has that “universal classiness” that fits well for all presentations.

A few other important mentions:

  • 4:3 and 16:9 format
  • 60 different color themes
  • Available in both PowerPoint and Keynote

Download Here

“Corporate” PowerPoint Template

professional powerpoint templates from graphic river

Corporate is a clean and modern looking template with plenty of ready to use vector graphics, infographics, charts, tables, diagrams, maps and more. Almost all of the graphics follow a “flat” design style, and few are 3D. There are 119 slides included so there is plenty to pick and choose from here!

A few other important mentions:

  • 4:3 and 16:9 format
  • 22 different color themes
  • Available in both PowerPoint and Keynote
  • Uses Roboto font

Download Here

“Retro” PowerPoint Template

presentation templates that are professional

The Retro presentation template may not have the “corporate” look that some of the other templates have, but it does have a certain uniqueness that makes it stand out. As the name suggests, all the slides have a “retro” look and feel, which puts a smile on many people’s faces. Who doesn’t love the retro look these days?!?

The Retro template comes with 21 slides, and all of them are extra easy to edit. This cool looking PowerPoint template might be exactly what you need to make a strong impression.

A few other important mentions:

Download Here

“Premium International” PowerPoint Template

cool PowerPoint template - Premium template

The Premium International template is nothing short of premium. It features 56 uniquely designed slides that were created with full vector objects to allow for easy recoloring and rebranding.

What’s notable about this template is that it includes a lot of graphics that are layered on top of stock images which gives it a clean and modern look. On top of that, all the charts and diagrams have a simple look to them which makes them easy to scan.

Lastly, if you need to show maps in your presentation, this template has plenty of them!

A few other important mentions:

  • 4:3 and 16:9 format
  • 7 different color themes
  • Available in PowerPoint only
  • The images in the presentation are not included (due to copyright restrictions)
  • Uses Helvetica Light font (already installed on most computers)

Download Here

“Business Plan” PowerPoint Template

slide templates - professional templates

Similar to the “Grid” PowerPoint template, the Business Plan template has a minimal look that will go well with all types of presentations. The slides are clean and simple looking, which allows it to be used in many different industries. For example, this presentation could be used for real estate market review as much as it could be used for education and training.

If you’re looking to make a strong professional impact, go with this PowerPoint template. It has a very clean, formal look that is perfect for your next big presentation.

A few other important mentions:

  • 4:3 and 16:9 format
  • 3 different color themes
  • Available in PowerPoint only
  • Uses Calibri (already installed on most computers) and Open Sans

Download Here

“Zero” PowerPoint Template

powerpoint templates that are cool

The Zero template features over 200 slides of handcrafted awesomeness.

It features a bold color scheme (6 colors) that allows you to present a data-heavy talk in a way that is colorful and interesting.

The template also features a nice combination of flat and 3D diagrams. I typically recommend staying away from 3D in presentations (especially for charts), but the occasional 3D diagram can stand out as long as the information within the diagram is easy to scan.

Note: When deciding between flat design or 3D design just make sure your slides look consistent. Too much switching back-and-forth between the two styles can be distracting.

A few other important mentions:

  • The template comes in both 4:3 and 16:9 format
  • There are 7 color themes to choose from
  • There are custom animated pages built into the template. If you don’t want the animations you can always remove them.
  • Uses Lato font

Download Here

“Ever” PowerPoint Template

Professional PowerPoint Templates - Ever Template

The Ever template packs a lot of color and unique looking illustrations to keep your audience entertained. This unique PowerPoint template features 200 slides which can be used across a wide range of businesses. Probably the coolest part about this PowerPoint template is the fact that many of the slides have been designed in a Prezi like format where the slide design continuously bleeds onto the next slide (creating a seamless transition to the next slide).

A few other important mentions:

  • 4:3 and 16:9 format
  • 60 different color themes
  • Available in both PowerPoint and Keynote
  • Uses Calibri Nevis Raleway and Source Sans Pro fonts

Download Here

professional powerpoint templates from graphic river


Most of the PowerPoint templates available on the internet are pretty lousy. Fortunately, there are some good resources available for finding good ones such as Graphic River.

If you really want to make your PowerPoint presentation stand out from all the rest, then a professionally designed PowerPoint Template from Graphic River is essential.

Furthermore, downloading a pre-designed PowerPoint template can SAVE YOU A DECENT AMOUNT OF TIME when designing your presentation.

I hope you’ve found these PowerPoint templates helpful in terms of understanding what a good template looks like. As mentioned earlier, all the templates here are available for download on the Graphic River website.

Regardless of whether you are going to download a pre-designed PowerPoint template or make your own keep in mind that your presentation’s design needs to be SIMPLE. In other words, the template should not distract the audience in any way. Here are three important things to keep in mind:

  • Consistency is key. Make sure all of your colors, fonts, font sizes, and graphical treatment stays consistent throughout the entire slide deck.
  • Delete or hide distracting elements that are not essential to the key point you are making on the slide.
  • Less is more. Enough said!

Here is my question for you …

Which of the templates mentioned in this post do you like the most?

Sound off in your comments below… And please remember to be specific as possible.

Also, do you have a friend that is currently creating a new presentation and could benefit from learning about these cool looking PowerPoint templates? If so, send them a link to this blog post right now. I’m sure, they will return the favor to you one day!

Finally, if you enjoyed reading this post, please remember to like and share using the sharing icons to the left.

Hungry for information on how to create awesome PowerPoint templates? Here are a few suggested posts:

SLIDEDOC PowerPoint Templates by Nancy Duarte … A Game Changer?

5 Tips For Designing A PowerPoint Template That Doesn’t Suck

Quality PowerPoint Template - Professional Presentation Template - Influencer Template

Presentation tips - Check out my ebook Slides Made Slimple Now!


10 Tips For Combining Fonts In PowerPoint

PowerPoint Tips | 10 Tips for Combing Fonts

You finally picked a cool font that’s perfect for your next PowerPoint presentation. Nice job, but don’t break out the champagne glasses just yet. For many presentations, one font is not enough to create visual interest and establish the information hierarchy. You need to learn how to combine several fonts that go well together.

Over the years we have seen plenty of font combinations within PowerPoint presentations. The more effective combinations usually rely on typographic guidelines. However, it is important to note that these guidelines are not scientific, rigid, or fail-safe. All of them can be broken.

Using several different fonts in the same PowerPoint presentation can get tricky at times. In fact, combining fonts is one of the most difficult parts of the presentation design process. When you’re pairing multiple fonts, you want to be sure that they work well together. If you have no idea where to begin, then this post will help. Simply follow the guidelines below.

01. Choose complementary fonts

A classic challenge for anyone creating a PowerPoint presentation is pairing fonts that complement each other instead of competing for attention. Similar to humans, fonts have different moods and personalities. And sometimes these moods and personalities can clash. For example, some fonts can be serious while others are playful, elegant or professional.

When picking the fonts for your slides, think about the purpose of your PowerPoint presentation. For example, a rounded and bubbly font may be appropriate if your creating a baby shower invitation, but not for your serious board meeting presentation. Mixing fonts’ moods or personalities can draw attention to the typography instead of the message, which could result in a poor presentation.

When your playing around with different fonts, make sure to keep things simple. In other words, don’t use too many fonts. Just as mixing in too many colors into your slides will likely result in a nauseating rainbow, mixing too many fonts on a page will probably result in a confusing message.

One question I get asked all the time is how many fonts should I use in my presentation?” I always tell people that this depends a lot on their aim and general presentation purpose, but usually I do not recommend more than three. This is because all fonts, like people, have a personality and an overall effect. If you use two fonts with total opposite effects, they will clash and this will kill your design. Too many strong personalities together can create an awkward atmosphere, it is the same with fonts.

The example below shows two fonts that complement each other.

PowerPoint Tips - Choose fonts that complement each other


Dribble – Jules Forest

02. Establish a visual hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is an important element in presentation design. It tells people where to look first and what is most important. There is no one-step solution to creating visual hierarchy. However, visual hierarchy can be achieved with size, weight, color, texture, orientation and space, or any combination of these tools.

Traditional printed media like newspapers and magazines offer good examples of how to apply a visual hierarchy to fonts. They combine fonts in way that visually separates different textual elements like headlines, sub-headlines, body copy, and captions.

When you’re picking fonts for your next PowerPoint presentation, simply think about what part of the slide you want your audience to pay attention to first. What keywords are essential? Then, make your font style, size, and arrangement choices accordingly. Generally, the most important textual element is the largest and the weightiest. As you can see from the example below, the words “Wattle & Daub” jump out at you by manipulating the font style, size, and colors of the text.

PowerPoint Tips - Font Tips - Create a visual heirarchy

Dribble – Anthony

03. Create contrast

For presentation design, font combinations based on contrast are better equipped to clearly establish hierarchy. Using contrasting typefaces makes it clear which text are headings and subheads and which are body copy. It’s also clear that you want to draw your reader’s attention first to the heads.

In the example below, a bold, chunky font  is paired with a small script font — and they work nicely together in large part because they are so different. The differences help create distinct roles for each font, allowing them to stand out as individual pieces of information.

PowerPoint Tips - Cool Fonts - Presentation Tips

Gerren Lamson and Simon Walker

04. Consider your audience 

Your audience should help you determine what fonts will work for your presentation.

In addition to size, font styles also affect readability. One way to choose fonts that fit the context of your presentation is to match the attributes of your intended message with the perceived traits of a typeface.

Part of the process will be deciding whether display typefaces or more neutral fonts (or some combination of the two) are most appropriate for your project. Sometimes you’ll want something that really pops (as seen in the example below), and other times the context will require a font that’s not distracting.

The example below obviously has fun care-free island theme, so the fonts have been chosen to reflect that mood/context.

Cuba Numbers_v5

Dribble – Chi Birmingham

05. Mix serifs and sans serifs

One of the most popular ways to combine fonts effectively is to pair a serif and a sans serif. This is a classic combination and it’s almost impossible to get wrong. Serif fonts have the small numbs on the ends of the different strokes of the letters. Sans serif fonts do not have these little nubs.

The key to pairing serif with sans serif is readability. Sans serif fonts are generally better for PowerPoint presentations because they are easy to scan. In contrast, serif fonts are traditionally used for printed media, such as newspapers or magazines.

In the example below, a sans serif font is paired with a serif font — and they work nicely together in large part because they are so different. The differences help create distinct roles for each font, allowing them to stand out as individual pieces of information.

Dribble Amy Hood New

Dribble – Amy Hood

 06. Avoid conflict

Achieving proper combining of fonts requires concord and contrast, and not conflict. The fonts need to work well together and share similar qualities. That way your pairings are most likely to look harmonious together. Conflicts between fonts happen when the fonts look too similar or too different.

As you can see in the example below, the two fonts displayed share the same weight, size and decoration. As a result they’ve become too alike. They’re performing very similar roles, but the small differences are conflicting which makes for an awkward overall effect.

PowerPoint Tips - Avoid Conflict


07. Avoid pairing fonts that are too similar

Choosing fonts that are too similar can become problematic. You’ll will most likely have trouble establishing a hierarchy, because the fonts aren’t visually distinguishable from each other.

In fact, font combinations that are too similar can often times look like a mistake—as if you’d been experimenting with different fonts and had forgotten to clean up after yourself. As with any good comedy duo, there needs to be a straight man. If you have a typeface with a strong, extroverted personality, try combining it with something neutral, reserved, and trustworthy.

Below is an example of two fonts that are too similar and should not be used together.

PowerPoint Tips - Combining fonts

08. Use fonts from the same family

This may sound like a contradiction of the last method, but another avenue to harmonious type combos is to stick with a single font family. Just be sure to choose a font family that comes in a variety of weights, styles, and widths. Extended typeface families with enough variation let you easily differentiate one level of hierarchy from the next, while at the same time assuring you that the shared DNA of the family members means they can sing in perfect harmony.

To pair fonts that come from the same family, plan carefully to create contrast, varying things like font size, weight (such as light, regular, and bold), and case (upper, lower, small caps).

One of the benefits of limiting your fonts for a presentation to one font family is that it creates a more consistent look.

Bonus Tip:

When combining fonts, a little insider knowledge can go a long way. Try combining fonts from the same font designer. Some fonts, like Museo and Museo Sans or Stone Serif and Stone Sans, were designed specifically for such a purpose, but even those that were not designed specifically as complements will likely have a similar aesthetic when they’re from the same hand.

PowerPoint Tips - Use fonts from the same family

Veneer Font Family by Yellow Design Studio

09. Limit your number of fonts

As mentioned before, it is generally wise to stick to only two or three fonts. However, there is no explicit rule that says you can’t use more. Do keep in mind that consistency and readability are essential to good PowerPoint design. Too many fonts can distract and confuse your audience. Make your font choices carefully and consider the overarching message of your presentation.

If your presentation requires the use of a variety of fonts, remember that the overall effect should be harmonious, not conflicting or cluttered. Below is an example of two fonts that pair very nicely with one another.

PowerPoint Tips - limit your number of fonts

Dribble – Justin Mezzell

 10. Experiment  

Effectively combining fonts is a skill best learned through practice, and trial and error. There’s no foolproof formula for finding the perfect font combination for your slides. Fonts have a strong influence on the look and tone of your presentation. So remember, choose fonts that accurately reflect your key message and theme.


I hope the above guidelines have provided some insight on how to best combine fonts for your PowerPoint presentations. If there’s one important rule you should take away from this it’s “You won’t know until you try!” So, be adventurous and play around with different fonts until you find a combination that works!

There are tons of free fonts available for download from places like Font Squirrel. As presentation designers we have an ever-growing repository of fonts available for use in our presentations. Consider the fundamentals, then experiment. You’ll undoubtedly be surprised by what you find.

Here’s my question for you …

What do you find most difficult about combing fonts in presentations? Sound off in your comments below!

Want to know the 5 presentation font trends for 2015? Click here!

Looking for some great fonts to get you started in your next presentation? Click here!

Presentation tips - Check out my ebook Slides Made Slimple Now!