Top 10 Presentation Design Rules

1/ One Point per Slide

If your slide has several groups of bullets, a chart and a timeline, chances are you are trying to say too much on one slide. Break those on to separate slides (slides are free after all), or better yet, eliminate non-crucial information and only show the most important point.

2/ Turn Words into Pictures

If your slide reads like War and Peace, consider replacing those 1000 words with a picture. Or, select the main themes and graphically represent each of those. Your audience (especially those who learn visually) will appreciate it.

3/ Line ‘em Up

One of the easiest ways to improve the look of your slides is to line up the elements using a consistent grid. Divide your slide up into an array of squares, say five squares by four, and then consistently place items to line up with those squares. Look at magazine and websites for inspiration.

4/ Embrace Whitespace

Whitespace is the part of your slide that does not have nay content. It is like the oxygen of the presentation. If you use it all up, your audience will suffocate. So leave a little breathing room. In fact, leave a little bit more than you think you need and let your presentation breathe easy.

5/ Tell a Story with Data

Don’t just project your Excel chart on a slide and hope for the best. Guide your audience through your data to the conclusion you want them to arrive at by reducing the visual strength of the background, axes and contextual data and emphasizing the part of the data you want them to focus on.

6/ Obey the Brand

If you work for a company, chances are that someone spent a lot of time and money developing the company’s brand (logo, colors, graphics etc.) In order to reinforce your audience’s perceptions of your brand, use those elements and avoid the temptation to color outside the guidelines.

7/ One Font, Maybe Two

Yeah, there are lots of great fonts out there. It doesn’t mean that all of them need to be in your presentation. Avoid the ”ransom note” effect of using too many fonts. Choose one, maybe two. It is best to avoid crazy fonts and stick with clean, simple ones for maximum impact.

8/ Think Outside the Cliché

While it may be tempting to insert that “handshake in front of a globe” image for your “global partnership” slide, take some time to brainstorm other, less overused, imagery. An original, well thought out graphic will cause eye popping instead of eye rolling.

9/ Eliminate Flash for Flash Sake

Just because your presentation software allows you to add crazy animations, transitions and sounds, it doesn’t mean you should use them. Often flashy effects meant to “jazz up” a presentation end up becoming a distraction for your audience. Just say “no” to pointless flashiness.

10/ Lead the eye

They’re your slides. Control what your audience sees and how they see it. Arrange the elements on your slide using scale, position, size, shade, color, or proximity to guide your audience’s eyes to the place you want them to look.