Use these 10 best tips to create slides that make you more memorable.
Whilst many people hate slides they are often a necessity, particularly when getting across complex ideas. However, slides do not need to be dull, boring or rammed full of information. Great slides are an aid and not the cornerstone of your talk. Even if you need to present data there are novel and interesting ways to do that without being boring.
These 10 tips for making an effective slide deck are taken from many of the best resources and advice from across the internet. We’ve distilled this down to help you avoid the common mistakes that still plaque meeting rooms and talks.
10 Tips For Creating Effective Slides
No matter how good your slides are they will not make up for a poorly written material or a lack of preparation. The tips below are designed to help you become a maestro at producing awesome slides.
#1 – Wow your audience first by knowing your talk
Don’t use slides to structure your thinking. Your slides come in much later on in the process. The first place to start is to understand your audience and to distill your communication into a simple message with supporting points.
If you’ve ever read the Pyramid Principle you’ll understand the importance of building out a good structure to your message.
Slides are there to deliver a visual theme to support your talk. For this reason visuals are there to be used as a metaphor, illustration or convey a dramatic context.
#2 – Consistent Design
Great slides use the same style throughout the slide deck. This helps the audience concentrate on you and the message.
A good slide design uses:
- consistent typography
A good place to start is to create a good slide master. This is important because if you decide to change an element of your layout of typography it becomes easier to simply change the master template than wade through each slide.
Consistency vs Contrast
Although you want consistency you also need contrast. If all your slides look too similar then your points can easily make each slide unmemorable and lack distinction. A good way to create contrast is to change the colour/tone of imagery and how you use typography (large vs smaller).
#3 – Avoiding text overkill
A golden rule for text is to use less – a lot less – think minimal. Some key things to remeber is that you are the focus of the talk not the slides. So avoid:
- lots of text lines
- displaying all your text in one (if you need to use bullet points) – reveal them instead
- avoid small fonts – these can be hard to read
#4 – Use strong imagery that conveys meaning
It is estimated that over 1.2 Trillion photos will be sold.
Use photos that enhance meaning. I love using simple, punchy photos in presentations, because they help what you’re saying resonate in your audience’s mind without pulling their attention from your spoken words.
Look for photos that:
(1) relate strongly to the concept you’re talking about and (2) aren’t too complex visually. Your photo ideally is a metaphor or it could be more directly related to your topic. Either way it needs to be clear to the audience. See the two examples below:
Do not overuse transitions or make it so that your transitions distract people. Powerpoint comes with lots of transitions. My preference is to not use them, however, if you do try and keep to subtle transitions.
#5 – Use masking and effects
Use masking to direct attention in images. If you want to point something out in a photo, you could use a big arrow. Or you could do what I call a highlight mask. I do this a lot when showing new page designs, particularly when I don’t want the audience to see the whole design until I’m finished talking about individual components of it.
#6 – Use move effect for large images
If you want to show entire web page in a presentation your image will look incredible small and not be seen. Here is a cool Chrome extension to capture thesea full page image. These are longer than the presentation page in PowerPoint or Keynote. Using a Move effect though you get the image to pan while you talk.
#7 – Avoid Autoplay
If you set a video to autoplay you lose control of when and how the video should start. It also means you will need to intrduce the video on the previous slide. It’s much better to set the video to start on click and then introduce it and click. This also avoids any embarrassment if you accidently click ahead and the video starting straight away.
#8 – Charts and Figures
Don’t use overcomplicated charts. The worst thing to do here is to simply copy and paste a spreadsheet with lots of figures with very poor or not styling. Usually the figures simple charts and graphs. Dropping an image of a chart into a presentation is fine, but it almost always disrupts the feel of a deck in unsightly fashion. If the graph data is simple enough (and you have some extra time) there’s a way to make it much more easy on the eyes. You could redraw it in the native presentation application. That sounds like needless work, and it might be for your purposes, but it can really make your presentation feel consistent and thought-through, of one flavour from soup to nuts. You’ll have control over colors, typography, and more. Here are some examples:
#9 – Use Existing Material
You want to be efficient in the way you build slides. Producing awesome slides takes time. If you have little or design skills then you don’t want to spend too much time create unique graphics for your slide deck. As an example there are lots of sites that have free graphics that you can simply edit rather than create from scratch. Here are a few:
Freepik – Freepik helps you to find free vector art, icons illustrations, PSD and photos for using in websites, magazines banners, presentations …
#10 – Learn From The Best
There are some good books and places to look for inspiration. First of all the books:
Resonate by Nancy Duarte. This book is less about producing a slide deck and more about public speaking.
Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte. This book focuses much more is on creating visuals slides that engage your audience and convey meaning.