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Designing Presentation Templates the Right Way (5 Simple Tips)

Presentation Design Tips - How to design an awesome presentation template

Hey there, fellow presentation pandas. Similar to feats of bravery including rescuing someone from a burning building, telling off someone who cut in front of you in line, or covering yourself in chum and diving into shark-infested seas, it takes guts and iron resolve to design a really awesome presentation template. There are so many things that can go wrong when it comes to creating the perfect presentation slide, and so you must tread cautiously when attempting to come up with your PowerPoint presentation, because having a well-designed template is critical to your success. But rather than quaking in your Italian-designed business shoes and giving up all hope of ever having a clean and professional looking presentation, take heed. There are some fundamental truths to making really awesome presentation templates, and I am going to guide you through them in five easy steps.

Presentation Template Tip #1: Buy a Template from a Professional Designer

Presentation Design Tips - How to design an awesome presentation template - Tip#1

Especially if you are on a tight budget or are simply a bit of a control freak, it can be tempting to go it alone and confront PowerPoint or Photoshop head on and design a template from scratch, not unlike how Captain Ahab made the reckless decision to face Moby Dick. The problem here is that if you are a busy, busy bee (no doubt you are) and you have other projects to juggle, chances are high that whatever sort of slide template you come up with be lacking somewhere. Maybe the fonts that you choose will fail to match up correctly. It might be that your colors look like they were chosen by a colorblind 2 year old chimp. Perhaps you nail those two elements but you wreck your slide template with unnecessarily distracting elements which take away from the main focal point of your slide. Or maybe your formatting just does not add up.

Whatever it is, your audience will take notice. Why not save yourself the worry and leave the fundamentals to a trained professional? Plenty of graphic designers specialize in creating beautiful, seamless PowerPoint slides, and it does not cost that much to hire someone on to do the heavy design lifting for you. A great—and even better yet, free!—resource to browse for stunningly awesome presentation templates is Graphic River, which offers great deals on slide presentation templates in addition to serving as a handy general resource to consult if you do decide to go it alone and create your own presentation from scratch. As Picasso said, the greatest artists are the ones who steal the most—you do not need to completely plagiarize someone else’s design, but if you see certain elements that you really like, such as a gorgeous texture or lovely gradients that add depth to an image, you can always do your best to riff off of what you see.

But seriously, for an extra $15 or $20 it is a pretty good investment on your part to consider some of the gorgeous premade templates out there. There is a design to fit just about every taste, topic, and tone—from retro to corporate and everything in between. Here are a bunch of great templates to get you started.

Presentation Template Tip #2: Choose a Color Theme

Presentation Design Tips - How to design an awesome presentation template - Tip #3

Color is one of the big make or break aspects of a presentation slide that you need to be careful about. Ideally, the colors that you choose will match up harmoniously—generally speaking, you can use your gut to ascertain if the combination of primary, secondary and tertiary colors you are using goes together, but there are definitely other resources to depend on in case you are not sure which colors go where.

To give you an idea of what color harmony looks like, let’s revisit the title slide of this presentation. First of all, I picked a primary color that was strong without being too over the top or garish. A nice cool green, like the ocean when the sun is out and shining strong, sets a relaxing, fun tone. Orange—technically, somewhere between orange and burnt sienna—plays off the coolness of the green and gives a bit of visual warmth to the composition, as well as draws your eye. Finally, a charcoal gray color rounds out the trio and provides small details to offset what would otherwise be a two dimensional and boring setup. White is the primary color for the font itself, and you will notice that I also incorporated white into the pencil image. Using the same color between two different elements reinforces the visual integrity of the slide and provides a subtle motif meant to unify the design as a whole.

Furthermore, you will notice two areas of the slide where different shades of the same colors are used: Going from left to right, there is a diagonal partition where the green background goes from dark to light. Also, the bottom half of the pencil appears a shade darker from the top half. Both of these color gradations are used to give the flat design just a slight popping effect—without it, the slide would appear a bit more two dimensional than I would want it to be.

In case you want to know even more about complimentary color patterns and how to create visual motifs in your slide presentation with color, another great resource at your disposal is Design Seeds, which allows you to test out different color palettes. Design Seeds features color schemes adjacent to in situ images showing what sort of colors to use in relation to different images, sort of the same way that Type Genius will give you an idea of what fonts work best together.

Presentation Template Tip#3: Hide Distracting Elements

Presentation Design Tips - How to design an awesome presentation template - Tip #2

One of the most important aspects of creating a beautiful presentation template is keeping things as simple as possible. That is why it is so important to hide distracting elements that basically serve no good except to clutter up the visual field of your slide. In slide design, less is always more, and you should follow this tenet ruthlessly. Slides need to breathe! They do not need to be cluttered up with any of the following:

  • Company logos (apart from the first page, maybe)
  • Client logos (also good to include once but no more)
  • Legal disclaimers (as a rule of thumb, you want to avoid using more than a few words on a slide, so legalese is certainly out of the question)
  • Website address (include this on the cover slide or on your “contact us” slide)
  • Header graphics (no. just no. All this does is cramps the slide and takes up precious white space)
  • Long survey questions (presentation slides should avoid anything that will put people to sleep, and this is right at the top of that list)

So the next time that you are looking into designing a good presentation template, do not make the mistake of going overboard and trying to put in clever looking yet unnecessary images such as logos or photos or anything beyond the bare essentials. If you absolutely must include lots of visual clutter, consider creating more slides and dispersing the images across them in a less concentrated manner. There is nothing wrong with having more slides with less elements on them; there is definitely going to be a problem if you have less slides with more elements on them.

On the other side of things, if you need to have some cool visual elements on your slide and are at a loss for where to find them or how to arrange them, this useful piece will shed some light on keeping everything looking in perfect order.

Presentation Template Tip#4: Use Nice Looking Fonts

Presentation Design Tips - How to design an awesome presentation template - Tip #4

You are not in college anymore; you do not have to write out everything in Times New Roman or Arial font. Or Calibri. Or *gasp* Comic Sans. This pertains especially to creating an elegant and pleasant to look at presentation slide. Please, please do yourself the credit of using a font that does not scream “English Literature 101 Final Essay.” It really is not hard to find beautiful, minimalist fonts, and you usually do not have to pay anything to download them. One of the best resources for finding fonts is Font Squirrel, which allows you to browse a huge collection of custom designed fonts by some of the best graphic designers out there. Best of all, it costs nothing to download the fonts there and then implement them into your presentation slide, so you do not have to spend money to ensure that your slide looks its absolute best.

The reason why you want to use nice looking fonts in your presentation slide is because no matter how good your ideas are, if they are presented on a plain white background and in Helvetica, you will lose your audience to the crushing weight of boredom.

Spice things up a bit!

But before you get too creative, also consider that it is not a good idea to use more than two fonts. Anything more than that and there will be major visual inconsistencies in your design. Choose two fonts that complement each other visually; for example, use something bold and catchy for a header, and if you have a few small bullet points beneath, use a font that is elegant, slim and easy to read. You should also make sure that your fonts are not in conflict with each other—this happens when you either choose nearly identical fonts or two fonts which are way, way too different from each other. There are a bunch of other important things to keep in mind regarding font selection and if you have any other questions you should really look at this article on how to properly combine fonts.

Presentation Template Tip#5: Keep Everything Consistent

Presentation Design Tips - How to design an awesome presentation template - Tip #5

It is great to have varying degrees of contrast in your work, but there is such a thing as having too much variety in your presentation slide. When this happens, it looks kind of like a fire juggler attempting to unicycle against traffic while balancing a goldfish bowl in his lap and playing the harmonica. In other words, it does not look good. Inconsistencies can happen in a single slide, or sometimes they play out across the entire presentation, from one slide to another.

There are a ton of common errors people overlook when they build a presentation slide, so try seeing if you can spot the mistakes that I deliberately made here.

The first mistake is in the first slide. There is no reason to change the color of the font halfway through from white to gray. Especially on the green background, the gray font makes it harder, not easier to read.

The second mistake occurs in the second slide. All of a sudden the horizontal bands that run across the slide have changed in color from black to white.

The third slide contains a bunch of different mistakes that you should always avoid. First of all, the background is inexplicably gray when it should match the green background in the first two slides. Second of all, the font stays the same shade of white, which makes it almost impossible to read the words on the slide. Third, the word “elements” is not capitalized, unlike in every other instance when all the words are written in capital letters. Fourth, the horizontal band running across the top is the right color, but it is missing its twin down at the bottom. Finally, the font in the third slide is different than the first two slides.

Now you should have a pretty good idea of what an inconsistent slide looks like, so try not to make the same mistakes when you design your next presentation.


Presentation Design Tips - How to design an awesome presentation template - Summary

Now you know what goes into making a perfect presentation template, I hope you tackle your next big presentation with aplomb. Consider going to Graphic River and picking up a readymade template, or now that you know the ropes, try making your own.

But before you go, I’d like to know your thoughts. When you make a presentation slide, do you have any go-to resources that you use for selecting the right font, color scheme, or template? Let us know; we can always learn a bit more!

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 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!



How to Pick a Killer Theme for Your Presentation in 5 Easy Steps

PowerPoint Tips - Presentation Design Tips - How to Create an Awesome Theme

You do not normally give it much thought, but pretty much every app you use, every restaurant you walk into, and even every presentation slideshow you put together is designed around a central theme.

At least, every good presentation is. Like many aesthetic features, a presentation theme is something that you should be able to know is intuitively right or wrong just by looking at it. A business presentation about mutual funds should probably have an understated theme with neutral colors and no-nonsense designs, and (hopefully) you don’t need me to tell you that. Likewise, if you’re creating a presentation about a more light-hearted topic such as the top ten summer travel destinations in the USA, you can afford to have a more whimsical theme.

What exactly is a theme, though, and why is it so important? A theme encompasses everything from font, images, colors, layout, formatting, and even to a certain extent the content that you put on display in a presentation. It might seem simple on paper to pick a theme, but in practice a lot of thought goes into the process.

Once you have landed on a theme to use in your presentation, making decisions on how to design your slides becomes much easier. All you have to do is ask yourself “does this aspect of my theme {such as font or color) fit into the broader whole?” If yes, then you should incorporate it—if not, then toss it out.

While some people have the supernatural ability to wing it and come up with tastefully curated themes where everything from the header font to the hyperlink color is in harmony, most of us can use a little help. We need structure, we need influences, and we need a map to guide us. Luckily there are tons of tools out there to help make choosing a good theme for your presentation easy. Whether you are creating a presentation, a website, a painting, a blueprint for an architect, a book cover, or anything else visual, it is fundamental to have a central theme at the heart of your plans. This is where the concept of creating a theme comes in handy, and this is what you’ll learn about today!

Step #1: Brainstorm Creative Ideas

Presentation Design Tips - How to build a theme - Brainstorm

The first step to creating a beautiful, cohesive theme is to brainstorm anything and everything that comes to mind. Writing down creative ideas that express the concept you are trying to present will allow you to open up a stream of all sorts of themes to utilize in your work. So grab a piece of paper or a tablet or a whiteboard marker—whatever it is that you use to record the thoughts in your head—and start brainstorming.

Occasionally people make the mistake of assuming that when they brainstorm ideas they should come up with lots of fancy, near-perfect concepts. This is a mistake! When you are in the initial phase of creating ideas you should pretty much be writing whatever comes to mind—it can seem completely ridiculous and maybe it is, but it is a great way for your brain to warm up and start visualizing the A+ material you will use when designing your own them.

It’s normal to have a lot of lackluster ideas when you’re in the brainstorming phase, but even if you have some pretty weird ideas that seem useless, they might lead to the right idea in the end.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind during the brainstorming phase:

  • Don’t spend too much time stuck inside. Going out for a walk, or just to get a breath of fresh air, really can make a difference. Bring a notepad or your phone with you to jot down any ideas that come to your head while you’re putting extra oxygen into your head.
  • Get some exercise! Do a few pushups or a few basic stretches to get the blood moving. If I’m hitting a creative wall I’ll strike up a few yoga poses in my office before designing slides for clients
  • Consider changing environments. Richard Branson suggests brainstorming in creative environments that energize you and make you think differently. Depending on the kind of person you are, that might mean going down to your local beach or river and taking a seat, or it might mean finding a spacious café with lots of natural light and an excellent cup of espresso.

You should not have any trouble brainstorming some great themes if you keep these ideas in mind.

Step #2: Create a Design Mood Board

PowerPoint Design Tips - Mood Board Example

After you have brainstormed to your heart’s content it is finally time to create a mood board. Think of a mood board as a collage of different design inspirations that reflect your brainstorming ideas. It does not have to be organized in a certain way or have a completely fluid set of themes—maybe in one corner you will have a cluster of fonts that you like for the body of the slide, but immediately adjacent to them you have a few choice filtered images that will make for a beautiful cover page and set the tone and theme for your presentation. A mood board will let you know what the look, feel, and tone of your project’s theme will be, in a more tangible form. It should basically look like a stream of your thoughts, put together in front of you. Inspiration for your mood board can come from anywhere; think of it as a roadmap that shows where your project will end up.

Finding inspiration for your mood board is pretty easy. You can start out by looking at some of the ideas you have brainstormed and then go looking for images, designs, font styles, and more online. Some great resources for inspiration are Dribble, Note and Point, Design Inspiration, and SlideShare, which I personally use all the time when curating presentation images. Of course, it can never hurt to check out images on sites such as Flickr, Google Images, and even stock image sites and Getty Images; you never know what might strike a bulb inside your head.

Presentation Design Tips - Free Resource - GoToMoodBoard.com

To create a mood board, some people might prefer to use Pinterest, while others may prefer to use a professional mood board tool such as GoMoodBoard. There are tons and tons of great mood board websites out there and if you want to have access to as many of them as possible, here are sixteen great tools for creating the perfect mood board.

If you do not really feel like creating a fancy mood board (I don’t see why this would be a problem, but it’s your mood board, not mine) then you can simply use a screenshot tool such as Skitch (remember Skitch? We talked about it recently) and take quick screenshots of whatever catches your eye, then create a blank slide in PowerPoint or Microsoft Paint to paste your screen grabs and keep them handy.

What sort of content should you include in your mood board? Pretty much whatever you want, as long as it inspires you to find or create the perfect theme for your slides. Some basic features you should add to your mood board include fonts, colors, textures, photographs, patterns, GIFs, and other shiny things. Just like when you brainstorm, do not hold back with your mood board—make it open to all sorts of creative designs and themes and slowly but surely a more coherent single theme will begin to emerge.

PowerPoint Tips - What To include in your Mood Board - Presentation Tips

Step #3: Take Your Theme Out for a Test Drive

The next step after creating your mood board is to start placing the various features of your mood board in situ on your slides to see how they will look for your presentation. Once you have your mood board and color scheme created it is time to start playing around with the design of your slides.

Start out by creating a few slides and then take a pause to see if those slides reflect the direction that you want to go for your theme. Try starting out with the title page—probably the single most important place to start, since it sets the tone for the rest of your presentation—and build on from there. Also, put together one or two of your principal slides and see how they complement or play off of the title page. Switch around primary colors, try each of the fonts on your shortlist, see if the words you use look better in boldface, italics, or with standard weight. Decide if you are going to alternate your colors between slides or make them uniform. Depending on the kind of audience you are presenting to, you might also want to consider how your theme conforms to the topic at hand—if it’s a rather formal topic, think twice before you choose a font with curlicues or with jagged thorns covering each letter. If you are at a loss for what to choose, it probably means that the themes you have in front of you are not distinct enough from each other—there should be enough difference to distinguish one from another and get a clearer picture of what will look good and what will not.

Step#4: Get Feedback Early

Presentation Tips - Get Feedback on Your Theme Early

You might want to share these first couple slides with your team, your boss, etc. to get feedback. There is no point going further in the design process if your team isn’t digging your initial slides. And there is definitely nothing wrong with going back to the drawing board and making sure that your theme makes everyone happy.

Step #5: Build Your Slides

Presentation Design Tips - Consistency is Key

Once you have the green light from your fellow presentation collaborators it is time to put everything else in its place.

When you design your slides you need to be relentless in obeying your theme guidelines. If you have decided on Font X with a light blue background, do not compromise your theme for any reason and all of a sudden have a different font on a white background instead. Doing this will do nothing other than make your presentation look really bad and probably confuse your audience in the process.

As long as you remain consistent and keep steady to your theme your presentation will look fantastic. And if you do get stuck, you can always refer back to your mood board for more ideas. You should also not hesitate to consult with your fellow designers, boss, or whoever else has something at stake in your project.


Presentation Tips - Summary of How to Build a Killer Theme

Theme development is a challenging but ultimately enjoyable task; there is no reason not to have a great time flexing your creative muscles through the process of brainstorming ideas, curating a beautiful mood board that sets the tone for your slide, designing initial slides with feedback from your peers, and finally designing a beautiful, coherent slideshow that totally rocks.

If you have followed these five steps I am confident that your presentation’s theme will compliment what is sure to be a great presentation and make it look spectacular. If you have any doubts you can always double check and review these steps, and also consult some of our other articles here on Presentation Panda to make sure that you have the best presentation possible.

So, here’s my question for you:

Are there any other methods you use for creating a great presentation theme? Any other websites you use to come up with the perfect mood board that I missed? Let me know what you think below 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 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 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!
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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!