by Adam Noar
The best designers in the world are not only known for their amazing designs, but also for their inspirational and motivational quotes about design.
Many of the lessons they teach can, unsurprisingly, be directly related to PowerPoint design!
If you need some inspiration and guidance for your next PowerPoint presentation, look no further:
We have compiled a list of 20 of the BEST inspirational quotes about design that relate directly to PowerPoint.
After each designer’s quote, we’ve given a short explanation of how it relates to your presentation, and what you can do to make it amazing.
If you have anything to add, please leave a comment below. We want to know what inspires you!
And feel free to share the quotes as well, especially the images.
#1. “Everything is designed. Few things are designed well.” – Brian Reed
When you think about it, every PowerPoint that exists was designed – yes, even the ones with the ugly mustard yellow background, endless pointless bullet points, and random images.
But most PowerPoint decks … suck. Like, really, REALLY SUCK.
While all PowerPoints are designed, only about 1% are designed really well.
There are two things you have to know to design a great looking presentation that will capture the hearts and minds of your viewers:
1. You have to know what makes a good presentation
2. You have to know the PowerPoint tools and resources you need to get the job done
Of course, there are a lot of reasons why most PowerPoint presentations are awful. You might be focusing too much on the numbers and not enough on the story, maybe your design is boring (sorry not sorry), or perhaps you’re still using that creepy faceless alien dude to “enhance” your slides. There are a lot of old, outdated things that people still use, and it can really detract from their message.
The secret to learning how to make a great presentation is pretty simple:
Yeah, it’s pretty much the same advice for anything you want to get great at. Put in the time learning what makes presentations suck, practicing the art of good slide design, and learning how to tell a great story.
#2. “Design is the silent ambassador of your brand.” – Paul Rand
When you’re presenting your idea, product, service, etc. to your audience, every part of your impression counts.
This, of course, includes your PowerPoint presentation.
When you have a really awesomely designed PowerPoint deck, your slides do some of the talking for you. They’re saying to your audience, “See, this presenter is great. He knows how to give an interesting and appealing presentation. If his presentation is this good, imagine how good his product is.”
Your presentation is like your ambassador – or the best hype man ever.
Besides impressing people and knocking their socks off with your slick skills, it also tells them they can trust you. It communicates that you pay attention to details, think things through, and care about how people perceive you.
#3. “If you can design one thing, you can design everything.” – Massimo Vignelli
This is SO TRUE.
The awesome thing about learning how to create an awesome PowerPoint presentation is that a lot of what you learn can be applied to all sorts of projects.
If you know how to design an amazing PowerPoint presentation, you can apply all those same skills to other presentation software, like Prezi (although we have to admit we’re a little biased).
But besides presentations, you can apply a lot of what you’ll learn to anything that needs to be designed in your life:
Remodeling your kitchen? No problem! Painting your bedroom, piece of cake! Designing a PowerPoint presentation? Well, obviously you’re an expert at that now. Consider it done.
#4. “There are three responses to a piece of design – yes, no, and WOW! Wow is the one to aim for.” – Milton Glaser
Of course, when it comes to presentations, you should always be aiming to WOW your audience. A yes is okay; it mostly gets the point across and doesn’t detract too much from your message.
But it doesn’t speak to who you are and what you can do.
You want to “WOW” people. You want them to walk away from your presentation inspired, impressed, and ready to jump on board!
Of course, a “no” happens when your presentation sucks. It might distract from the message you’re trying to deliver, or give people a bad impression of your abilities, or you might even have made someone queasy with all the animated 90’s style spinning text.
Wow your audience by putting time, effort, and thought into your slides.
Come up with a great story and compliment that story with a beautiful deck of slides. It’s as easy (and difficult) as that.
#5. “Design can be art. Design can be aesthetics. Design is so simple, that’s why it is so complicated.” – Paul Rand
You probably guessed this, but a great presentation doesn’t get made in minutes. It doesn’t even get made in hours. It takes A LOT of time and effort to break the information down, build a narrative, and then design your presentation to complement all that.
We’re not exaggerating – to give you an idea of the time it takes to craft a nice looking slide, some presentation designers have said it takes about an hour to design a slide from scratch.
Of course, one of the hardest parts of creating a winning PowerPoint deck is breaking down complex information.
You don’t want to lose your audience; you want to keep them interested, engaged, and following your points. To do that, you have to make your story simpler and easier to understand.
When you don’t do this, of course, you get the dreaded lengthy bullet points. Presenters that use lengthy, run-on sentences in bullet-point format haven’t taken the time and care to ensure that their audience will be able to follow their story.
But YOU know better! The effort is more than worth it.
#6. “Thinking about design is hard, but not thinking about it can be disastrous.” – Ralph Caplan
There’s no way to “fake” a compelling presentation. If you could just slap together some random images, colors, and text on a PowerPoint slide and impress people, you wouldn’t need to learn the elements of design. You wouldn’t be wondering why so many presentations suck.
You wouldn’t be here reading this article and looking for tips on how to create awesome slides.
Half-heartedly jumbling together some words and images on a slide is basically committing “PowerPoint suicide”. This approach ALWAYS backfires, because it’s immediately clear to your audience that you put NO effort into your slide creation.
It’s so important to really put thought into ALL the elements you’re including on the slide.
There are a couple things you can do to help the process:
- Brainstorm! Spend time outlining your ideas upfront and think about their impact. The more you do this in the beginning, the easier it will be to implement and design them later.
- When you’re stuck, look at PowerPoint inspiration on the internet. This will help you get in the flow and get your creative wheels turning.
#7. “Design cannot rescue failed content.” – Edward R. Tufte
Sorry, but you can’t always rely on design alone to carry your presentation. If your message sucks, your presentation will too. If your content isn’t clear, powerful, and compelling, not even the best PowerPoint slide deck can save it.
A winning presentation is two things: a winning story and beautiful slides. You can’t achieve an amazing presentation without both.
To craft a persuasive story, you’ll need to keep a few things in mind:
- Outline your ideas before you start. That way you won’t meander in the middle and forget an important point – you’ll stay focused and on-track with your message.
- Make sure the presentation has YOUR voice. You want the presentation to be a representation of you and your message.
- Be consistent and use repetition. Utilize those tools to reinforce your message and really drive the message home to your audience.
Above all, make sure that your message is clear and concise. If you have great content, you’re halfway to an amazing presentation.
#8. “Color does not add a pleasant quality to design – it reinforces it.” – Pierre Bonnard
Like we said before, there’s no shortcut to a great presentation – and that includes making your slides “colorful”. (And no, more colors does not mean better, either). That mistake is made too often.
Color is just ONE of the design elements that go into creating beautiful slides. You absolutely need to put thought into what colors you want to use and why, but you can’t just put colored backgrounds up and call it a day.
You need to learn how to use color effectively in your slides. You need to know what colors are pleasing to the eye, which colors work together, and what colors to use for your fonts to make them easy to read. But don’t use color as a crutch to not put effort into the rest of the design.
#9. “Technology over technique produces emotionless design.” – Daniel Mall
PowerPoint is an incredible tool. Obviously, we’re super passionate about it. It has some incredible features that can be utilized to make an amazing presentation come together – and it also has a lot of features that are fun to use but don’t make your presentation better (or even all that great).
It’s easy to fall into the trap of using some of the features PowerPoint has, because they’re easy (yes, I’m talking about features like WordArt). But don’t do this! It may take a lot of the effort out of designing things well, but it also takes away the impact.
And it’s not just PowerPoint, either – this goes for Prezi, too. Sure, Prezi can do fancy zooms and spins, but it’s way too easy to go overboard with it. You may think you’re fancy-ing up your design, but you’re probably just making your audience confused and nauseous.
#10. “Simplicity, carried to an extreme, becomes elegance.” – Jon Franklin
In the spirit of Whitespace, less is more! When it comes to design, simple is always better. Simplify your writing, your images, and your message. Simplify everything until it is boiled down to the most powerful and effective that it can be.
Beautiful slides are never complicated. They’re never cluttered, they never distract from the message. They are always simple and clean – they enhance, not detract.
Nancy Duarte said it best: “People should be able to understand your slides in less than three seconds.”
You’ll notice this about everything, not just presentations. The most powerful messages in the world are simple. The most compelling logos are easy to read. The best products out there are the ones so clear that you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Your presentation is no different.
#11. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney
This is such a simple and impactful design quote.
Here’s a little secret that they don’t tell you in PowerPoint 101 in college:
The possibilities in PowerPoint are ENDLESS.
God ahead, tweet that out to the world. Blow people’s minds.
Of course, most people don’t know the full potential of PowerPoint. They put minimal effort into their presentations and wonder why their audiences aren’t getting it. They fall into the trap of repeating what most people do with PowerPoint: boring bullets, lame layouts, and standard images and graphics.
As Seth Godin once said, “PowerPoint could be the most powerful tool on your computer, but it’s not.”
And he is so right! With PowerPoint, it is so easy to craft a compelling presentation with impactful content, beautifully designed slides, and relevant images and graphics.
You can even do fancier stuff like create graphics, polls, and an interactive Table of Contents. What’s not to love? So dream a little bigger.
#12. “The essential part of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” – Edwin H. Land
One of the biggest problems with boring PowerPoint presentations is that you’ve seen it all before. It’s the same type of bad background, boring bullets, and ugly images. People keep making the same mistakes because they just repeat what they see other people do.
What’s the solution to this?
Get creative! Take risks!
Don’t be afraid to try new things. If they don’t work out, it’s as easy as hitting the delete button and making it disappear.
It’s not like it costs money – adding new slides to your PowerPoint deck is FREE.
So, browse for some inspiration. Figure out why you like what you like and try to emulate it. Then, try some of the various PowerPoint hacks and techniques that we talk about all the time here at Presentation Panda.
If you don’t try new things, you can’t grow as a designer, presenter, or expert PowerPoint presentation creator. So get out there and try some new stuff!
#13. “The ultimate inspiration is the deadline.” – Nolan Bushnell
You’re not going to hear us touting procrastination as your next great presentation hack.
But…have you ever had one of those projects that you just keep putting off because the deadline is so far away, even though you know it’s going to take a lot of work? What about one of those flexible projects that doesn’t really have a deadline, so you keep pushing it to the side?
We get it – sometimes a hard deadline can be the kick in the pants you need to get the job done. Of course, you don’t want to rush it, and the creativity and execution of that winning presentation will take time.
If the time pressure helps you – great! Use it to your advantage and try to trick your brain with an artificial deadline. This will help you feel the crunch, but still give you plenty of time to practice, get feedback from your peers, and make changes.
#14. “There’s no shortcut for greatness”. – Yasin Japardi
You’re probably thinking, “What’s all this advice I’m hearing about putting in effort and work? I want the magic wand I can wave to just do all the work for me.”
Sorry about that, but the results are in, and that magic wand just doesn’t exist (unless JK Rowling writes you into one of her next books). It’s true for your taxes, your relationships, and, yes, mastering PowerPoint.
There are, of course, a ton of tools to use – like our award winning presentation template that can help you achieve PowerPoint greatness – but there’s really no substitute for the work.
Even if you find the best PowerPoint template in the world, you’re going to have to do some editing and customization to make the PowerPoint fit your brand and story.
And, of course, there’s no shortcut for writing the content.
There are also great resources that you can (and should) utilize, like our Slides Made Simple eBook, that can teach you how to rock at PowerPoint. But you still have to apply the secrets, and practice them until you’re rocking for real.
#15. “Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Don’t let the Whitespace scare you. Use the Whitespace. Love the Whitespace. Let the Whitespace be your friend.
So many people fall into the trap of filling up their slides with random text, images, and other junk because they’re afraid it will look to bare. But presentation design experts will tell you to strive for just the opposite!
Why say something in six words when you can say it in one? Why include a collage of random images when you can find one striking image? Why clutter your slide with unimportant elements when you can distill it into the few most important ones that will capture the heart of your message?
When it comes to PowerPoint design, less is more.
#16. “Every great design begins with an even better story.” – Lorinda Mamo
It’s story time! And the best presentations are centered around a well-told story.
This is when the outline is vital: when you have your story outlined properly, your PowerPoint design ideas will start to flow naturally. Outlining helps you focus your message and give your presentation direction. When your message is clear, the design will follow.
Of course, this is a step that many people skip. The most common excuse for bypassing the outline is simply, “I didn’t have time”. This is unfortunate, because time spent on an outline is time well spent.
In fact, outlining can actually save you time! If you still don’t have a grasp on what points you need to include, or in what order, the designing will take longer as you have to figure that out as you go.
It’s absolutely necessary to outline to ensure that you craft a coherent and focused presentation.
#17. “Simple is good.” – Jim Henson
Yes, we have a quote from the creator of Kermit the Frog; because it’s excellent, and so true.
This one doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation – the simpler you can explain your ideas, the better. The simpler you can make your design, the better. The simpler your message is, the better.
As mentioned in one of the quotes above, simplicity takes work and creativity, but the effort is well worth it.
Your audience will thank you many times over for walking them through a presentation that they can easily understand, instead of having to guess what you’re trying to say on each slide. Don’t make them decipher your message – give it to them clearly the first time.
#18. “When you are stuck, walk away from the computer and draw. It will teach you how to see.” – Gerard Huerta
When you’re designing your slides and get stuck, don’t get discouraged. And definitely don’t keep banging your head against the computer wondering why it’s not working (this may actually break the computer, so please don’t do that).
Instead, try walking away for a bit. Take a break from the computer screen and try doing things the old fashioned way, with a pencil and paper.
The mind seems to work differently when you draw things out, so take advantage of that. See if rehashing those ideas on a notepad instead of the screen will help.
#19. “Everything is design. Everything!” – Paul Rand
As many artists will tell you, inspiration is everywhere, and you can find inspiration for your PowerPoint designs everywhere! (Okay we may have added on that last part).
It’s a good idea to have a method in place for capturing designs that inspire or motivate you. See something that captures your eye while in line at Starbucks? Take a picture and save it to Evernote. See something on SlideShare that looks cool? Take a screenshot and save it to an “inspiration” folder on your computer or on Evernote.
If you’re struggling to get those creative juices flowing when you start a new PowerPoint project, go back to those places and revisit what inspired you when you saw it. It will do wonders for your slide design.
#20. “Good design is good business.” – Thomas J. Watson Jr.
The purpose of a presentation is to influence people. You want to make absolutely sure that you’re influencing people the way you want to. A lot of times, this is about getting people to accept a business idea.
When your slides look great, it gives merit to your idea. It projects confidence and care. It adds to your professional image, and gets people excited about what you’re excited about.
Basically when your slides look great, people want to say “YES” to what you’re saying – or, from number 4, “WOW!”
The flipside to this, of course, is that when your presentation sucks, it influences how your ideas are perceived. If the presentation sucks, people don’t want to say yes (or wow) to your idea.
No matter what your presentation topic is, these quotes are important to keep in mind when you’re designing your presentation.
Trying to get investors to believe in you and your product? Don’t forget to tell your story simply! Explaining to your boss that a new service is a great investment? Utilize Whitespace to make your presentation compelling!
We hope the insights from these world-famous designers helped inspire you. But did we miss any that you love? Is there a motivational design quote that always gets you pumped to create awesome PowerPoints?
Share it below! You can never have too much inspiration.