How to design an awesome presentation

A great presentation can mean the difference between winning a contract and losing one. But it’s not all about your presentation style on the day. If you’re using a presentation that’s been beautifully and thoughtfully designed, you’re already halfway towards winning over your audience.


Why make a presentation?

Presentations are a great way to communicate and sell your ideas. They give you the chance to present your product or service with some personality and pazzazz, and communicate your passion for what you do. They’re also really useful for explaining complex information, such as a new piece of technology. You can walk the viewer through each step of your product or process, keeping them with you all the way. Having a human face or voice to connect to makes your information immediately more engaging, meaning people are less likely to switch off before the end.

The design of your presentation is just as important as the content. Our top tips for designing your presentation are:

  • Think about what hardware and software you’ll be using before you start.
  • Be careful with your logo.
  • Use your brand guidelines.
  • Download some professional templates.
  • Keep it short and simple.

Hardware and software

It’s important to know in advance what kind of hardware will be available when you make your presentation. If you’re travelling off-site to deliver your presentation – for example, to a conference or expo – you’ll need to know what the setup at the venue will be like. Get in touch with the venue to find out the tech specs of their equipment. Here are some good questions to ask:

  • What is the monitor size?
  • Is there a projector or computer interface?
  • Can I bring my iPad or laptop?
  • Do you have the cables I need or do I need to bring them?
  • What file format do you need?
  • Is there a PA?
  • Will I be able to play music or video as part of the presentation?
  • What is the size of the stage/presentation area?

With regards software, this may be dictated to an extent by the operating system you use. If you’re on a Mac, you’ll have access to Keynote, which is a great piece of software. Research your options to find the best software for you – remember, Powerpoint is not the only application out there! If you have a Google account, Google Slides is a great option. It’s a free platform that’s cloud-based, making it easy to share and collaborate on.


Be careful with your logo

You may feel tempted to really push your logo, thinking it’s the most important element of your brand. In reality, however, overusing your logo can be really distracting for the viewer. If your logo appears on every page, it’s taking up valuable space and drawing your viewer’s attention from what you’re actually talking about. Remember that your brand is everything you do, not just your logo. It’s your product, your service, and your entire communication style. If you’ve designed your presentation really well, you shouldn’t need to include your logo at all, because your design should make it clear who you are and what you’re about.

We recommend using your logo on the first slide and maybe right at the end to punctuate your presentation – definitely don’t use it on every slide.


Use your brand guidelines

Following on from logo usage, it’s really important to use your brand guidelines when you design your presentation. (Download our guide to branding.) This means that your presentation should use the same font, colour palette, image style and tone of voice as everything else you produce. If you do this, your entire presentation will be showing off your brand (which is why you don’t need to keep adding your logo).


Download some professional templates

There’s no shame in letting the professionals do it! Using a pro template can save you hours of design work, and most of them are cheap or even free to download. Here are a couple of sites we recommend:

These templates are fully editable, so you can change all the elements so that they conform to your brand guidelines, making them instantly unique.


Keep it short and simple

Keep your copy brief. Your audience doesn’t want to have to read pages full of text – this defeats the point in making a presentation. Bullet points that you can riff around as you speak are a great way to communicate information in a digestible way.

Use plenty of graphics and negative space to break the text up so that it doesn’t feel like an onslaught of information. Graphics and photography are much better at invoking an emotional connection than long paragraphs of text, so in the presentation format they’re a vital element for keeping your audience engaged.

When it comes to transitions between slides, it’s best to keep this simple. Use the same transition throughout, and don’t make it too flashy. While it might be tempting to use a range of exciting animations between slides, all this does is distract from the content of your presentation and make you look unprofessional.

Think about some effective presentations you’ve seen. Chances are, they were simple in design, content and style.


Tim Cook on stage


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