Pivot Strategies’ designer, Wil Taylor walks you through five essential visual design tips everyone creating a presentation in PowerPoint should know about.
When setting up a new PowerPoint file, there are a few tips that can save you some headaches in the long run. By utilizing these methods, you’ll be able to cut time spent editing and adjusting objects to create a clean and polished presentation. Adding these five tips to your repertoire will put you on the way to becoming a PowerPoint pro.
A key element to making your presentation consistent throughout and on-brand is using the Slide Master function in PowerPoint. This allows you to set templates for different types of content so that you don’t have to create them from scratch each time. Saving time and keeping your branding in check.
Creating Perfect Shapes
Setting up tables or visualizing data are some of the most common needs in presentation design. Knowing how to quickly create proportionate shapes just the way you want and pairing them with text is something you’ll use over and over again.
Simply holding the SHIFT key while you create a new shape will create proportionate shapes (round circles, perfect squares, straight lines, etc.).
Format and Eyedropper
Keeping colors throughout the PowerPoint is important for a consistent, clean deck. Often, colors can look similar, especially if trying to eyeball it, but flipping through you can see the inconsistencies from page to page. Using the format button under the home tab can help keep colors consistent. By clicking on an object whose color you wish to use, then clicking the format button, you can colorize any object with the selected color. Similarly, you can click Shape Fill>RGB Sliders and use the eyedropper tool to copy the desired color. Both methods will provide you the Hex Color # to use to ensure your colors are consistent throughout.
Align and Distribute
Having several objects and text boxes that need to be on the same line or evenly spaced apart can be difficult if you’re just eyeballing it. Using the align and distribute functions in PowerPoint can make short work of this tedious task.
If you have a large PowerPoint or one with several images, cutting your file size down may be necessary to email and share. Going to File>Compress Pictures will help dramatically reduce the file size. Selecting On Screen for picture quality and making sure the cropped areas of the picture are selected will complete this process.
Now that you have a great-looking presentation, it’s time to proof the content before presenting your deck (or passing it to a client or stakeholder). Use the following list to double-check your content.
- ☑️ Spell Check – Check for typos (use spell check and read on your own)
- ☑️ Grammar Check – Spot grammatical errors (control + F to find them)
- ☑️ Similar Words – Check for words with the same sound, but spelled differently (i.e., there/their, it’s/its, etc.).
- ☑️ Ensure consistent style is followed – serial comma, percent or %, writing out numbers,etc.
- ☑️ Check header/subhead capitalization/font size/color consistency (capitalizing each word or just the first word)
- ☑️ Font size consistency
- ☑️ Check links – Verify that all links work
- ☑️ Check tables and figures
- ☑️ Use of hyphens and dashes (“em” dash for breaking up sentences, “en” dash for compound words).
- ☑️ Eliminate redundant words
- ☑️ Bullet points are parallel structure and have consistent formatting
- ☑️ Page number formatting – Is it consistent on every page?
- ☑️ Footer formatting – Is it consistent on every page?
- ☑️ Eliminate unused masters
- ☑️ Acronyms – Spell out first reference of acronyms
- ☑️ Consistent tense (present or past tense)
- ☑️ Smooth flow of ideas in the presentation (verify the outline, that the presentation tells a story and what the presenter intends to convey, key messages and takeaways)
- ☑️ Ensure a variety of vocabulary – Not every bullet needs to start with “drive,” etc.
- ☑️ Simplicity – Simple is best
- ☑️ Read it aloud – This will help you determine if there is good flow to the story and if there are typos
Using PowerPoint can be intimidating if you’re not a regular user, but it’s not difficult to set yourself up for success to create a clean professional presentation.
When you’re working within a brand, always use the predesigned templated slides. This will start you off in the right direction, making sure your slides are on brand and your formatting will be consistent.
Applying these simple steps to your routine will certainly enhance your experience using PowerPoint, as well as save you time in the long run having to go back and make edits. Consistency is key when striving for a clean and professional presentation and these tips will put you on the right track to becoming a PowerPoint pro.
About the Author
Wil Talyor, Creative Services
Wil brings 10+ years working in the creative field to Pivot, with expertise in visual, graphic and web design. Originally from Wisconsin, this Milwaukee native came to Minnesota to study graphic design at the University of Minnesota. Wil specializes in branding, providing complete identity needs including logo and web design, marketing materials, social media development and brand voice. A strong believer in the power of positive thinking in the workplace, Wil regularly develops internal wellness campaigns to assist employees with effective mental health techniques.