To persuade, inspire, or inform with a presentation requires well organized and perfectly tailored content.
You may have the most accurate research and innovative ideas, but if your presentation is a mess of inconsistent slides and ideas, you will struggle to captivate your audience and it will be hard for them to take your work seriously.
A properly structured and well executed presentation adds a valuable layer of professional savvy to you and your work. After all, delivering a presentation is an unavoidable task many of us face in our careers — what we can avoid is the stress and fear that builds up before a presentation.
To do that, we bring you 15 no-sweat tips on how to up your presentation game. When combined with Canva’s easy to use design tools, these guidelines will leave you with winning presentations every time.
01. Start With a Plan
After collating all your information, facts and imagery it is time to start drafting your outline. Let your big idea, communication objectives, or audience takeaway guide you into organizing your data into a coherent structure.
When creating a presentation plan, resist the temptation to include anything and everything you researched — some of those may not be relevant to your big idea. Always keep in mind how much time you have to present and include only the most essential details in your presentation.
You can include bits and pieces of this plan at the beginning of your finalized presentation to give your audience an idea of what’s to come.
02. Maximize Your Audience Research by Catering to Their Needs and Interests
Whether your audience is a serious corporation or a group of school children, it is important to cater to their specific interests and their attention spans — assuming you did your research. Which you should do if you haven’t yet.
Prematurely stereotyping your audience can lead to oversights in tone and style. Look into their interests, needs, and expectations and choose your language, photographs, and colors accordingly. A careful mixture of vocabulary and imagery can mean the difference between a confusing presentation and a captivating one.
03. Treat Your Presentation as If it Were a Movie
Have a solid introduction, middle, and end for your presentation. Just like all great films, including powerful and passionate ideas in your presentation will keep your audience engaged from start to finish.
Follow the simple structure of starting out with a challenge or problem. That could be anything from “How can we build a better team?” to “What is the best way to engage our audience?”.
Once you have proposed this question and a brief back story, move onto the next step: climax. This is where your story peaks on a build up of crucial turning points. The climax unveils usually unveils the challenges faced by the established problem.
When you’ve gotten the audience curious and excited for the resolution you’re ready to move on to the ending. The conclusion is where you explore a resolution based on the factual evidences you provide throughout your presentation using graphs and statistics.
It is important to create a narrative that flows seamlessly through your slides so you can finish off your presentation with a logical and persuasive conclusion. Don’t forget to throw in a quick ending summary for anyone who might want to relive your most important points.
04. Stick to One Idea Per Slide
This will not only help to keep your presentation structured but will also ensure your audience easily follows your content.
Try using keywords or phrases rather than lengthy sentences. Overcrowding your slides with multiple ideas is very distracting and comes across as underprepared and unprofessional. Someone who knows a topic very well can explain it in the simplest of terms.
05. Make Your Dot Points Concise
Dot points are not intended to list everything you are going to say, and audiences don’t appreciate being read to.
The purpose of dot points are to reinforce what you are saying, so just list very brief sentences or keywords. A presentation is very different to written communication, so it is perfectly acceptable to be concise with your words where you would otherwise be very descriptive on paper.
06. Quotes are Good, But Keep Them Short
Quotes are a great way of adding personality and credibility to your presentation. If the quote you want to include is quite lengthy, just use an extract of it and read the quote in full as part of your speech.
Magazines are experts at the art of pullquote-ing. Check them out for design inspiration and try incorporating interesting and unique pullquote designs to keep you audience’s eyes glued to your presentation.
07. Follow a Grid
Sticking to a grid will help keep your slides as balanced and visually impactful as possible. it allows you arrange your text and images according to how you want your audience to read them.
That’s why it’s important to consider visual hierarchy and focal points for each slide. Certain aspects of each slide will have more importance than others and you will need to organize them accordingly.
08. Pay Careful Attention to Your Font Choices
Choosing the right font is serious business and can have a huge impact on your design.
But there is no need to spend too long choosing the perfect font because we have curated some great articles to take the stress out for you, like this article on how to choose the right fonts.
Try working with only two fonts — one for headings and one for body text — and using varying weights of the same font family.
30pt size is most recommended for presentations, which may seem excessive at the moment, but you have to remember to cater for your audience in the back row, and any that may have vision problems. Also, never stretch your text, always resize it proportionally.
Using the same font in different weights, as in the example above, keeps your text refined and consistent.
09. Stick to a Uniform Color Scheme
Avoid using bright, neon colors. Even if it looks alright on your computer screen, the colors can change come presentation time will depending on the projector or screen setup.
Try using tints and shades of the one colour, which is a simple and effective way of creating a professional color scheme. You can also use your brand colors as the basis of your palette as subtle way of branding your presentation slides.
To ensure the text doesn’t blend into the background, there needs to be a good contrast between your background color and text color. When all else fails, black or white text are good fail safe options.
10. Be More Visual
It is often very difficult to keep an audience engaged with a text heavy presentation so try opting for images and icons wherever possible.
Even something as simple as the example below turns an otherwise text heavy layout into a something much more appealing, while being rather easy to comprehend with just a glance.
Again, it is important to consider your audience when choosing this imagery, as what may appeal to some will be off putting to others.
11. Use High Quality Photos and Graphics
There are many sites that offer free high quality photos — just be sure to avoid overused cliché stock photos and to resize your images proportionally.
Nothing says unprofessional like stretched, pixelated, and cheesy clip art. Check out this article on free stock photo resources for some help on finding the perfect image for your presentation.
12. Simplify Your Charts and Graphs
Avoid using complex charts and graphs as your audience will struggle to understand and that may cause them to lose interest in your presentation.
Instead, utilize minimal infographics to visualize your facts. Simplify your data to the most crucial points and your audience will be very thankful for it.
13. Make Negative Space-Friendly Slides
Give your text and design elements breathing space. It’s ok to keep things minimal, you don’t want to overwhelm your audience with graphics if they’re not relevant.
They will appreciate the fact that they can easily read and follow the information shown rather than having text competing with other elements.
Simple ways of achieving this are by adjusting the transparency of images or adding a filter to background images to tone them down.
As illustrated in the example above, placing a transparent shape over a photo will help give the text some space of the breathing kind and make it as easy to read as possible.
14. Keep Your Presentations Up to Date
If you use your presentation more than once, make it a priority to update your facts and information. Also try to keep your presentation looking fresh with new photographs and graphics so it doesn’t look tired and underprepared.
15. Close With a Powerful Slide
Always end with a powerful call to action. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to start and finish on a high. A ‘thank you’ or ‘the end’ slide is not necessary — instead aim to end with a strong message that your audience will remember.
Your audience won’t be interested in taking action unless you connect with them, so you might also want to let your personality and passion shine as you wrap-up your presentation.
Conclude by leaving your contact details and links to your social media on display, so your audience can get in touch and tell you how amazing your presentation was.
This example slide uses simple, powerful language to direct audiences to the site address. The photo gives context to the presentation while its bright colors help to soften the all black and bold, all-caps text.
Now that you are armed with these 15 simple yet effective tips, there is no reason to dread your next presentation. By organising yourself and giving just as much consideration to your design as well as your content and audience, you can craft the perfect presentation and impress any crowd.
Practice is the key to any success, so don’t be put off if you first attempts don’t go according to plan. Giving a presentation can be quite challenging for many people but, like any skill worth learning, the more you practice it the easier it becomes.
So get to work, and good luck.