12 secrets to make a presentation look consistent
There is no doubt that content is king. But good content presented with poor slides gets ignored by the audience. Every time a presentation is assembled, it needs a consistency intervention. Assembling slides from existing presentations and adding new layouts generated at the last-minute give life to some of the ineffective presentations. Hence, you start tasks like aligning titles from slide to slide, positioning the logo in the bottom right, making sure it is the same size and the same position in every slide along the presentation deck, etc.
These tasks can cost you a lot of time, and it gets even worse when you are running short of time. You do not have to be a gifted designer to create professional-looking slides. Having these 12 techniques in mind can help in creating a presentation that looks consistent and is effective. Through this article, you will learn a methodology that will allow you to stop imagining slides and start solving them in order to make a presentation that looks consistent.
- Outlines – Less is More
An outline is a line or set of lines enclosing or indicating the shape of an object in a sketch or diagram. You can apply outlines to many objects in PowerPoint: shapes, text boxes, or text
E.g. If we have four objects, identified by the sub-headings, and detailed with the boxes beneath. If lines are removed, the slide is lighter and presents fewer objects to focus on. Therefore, it is not only perceived as lighter, but it is also more correct.
Design principle – Less is More: If the design in a slide does not work, the best solution is never to add elements on the slide but remove them or leverage white spaces.
- Align the content structure
Alignments are a powerful way to correlate objects. If you see two or more objects aligned, your brain will perceive them as correlated in meaning. If objects not aligned, will look odd and give the impression that details may not be accurate enough. Adjusting alignments is a recurring task during the process of creating a presentation – align every object in every slide.
PowerPoint has the option of Quick Access Toolbar. This allows having the frequently accessing functions shown together, at the ease of a click. Keeping the alignment and distribution function in the Quick Access Toolbar saves the time of searching and using them all through the presentation slides.
- Highlight a group of objects using straight lines
Do you ever need to highlight a group of objects on your slide, like the one given below?
Stop using odd forms to highlight the group of objects on the slide, and prefer straight forms as shown below.
We tend to spot differences at a quick glance. Therefore, on the slide, you need to keep everything in order, preferring straight forms to curved forms to highlight the group of objects.
- Color-coding in charts
Let us suppose, you want to show that the introduction of innovations would compensate revenues for the decrease of core products in the long term.
Now you have innovations visually correlated against the core products, just by using consistent colors. We can extend the color-coding technique to the title as well.
By coloring the innovations and their effect in green, you are linking them to the chart and enhancing the relationships between the different objects. This will guide the eyes of your audience through a straightforward path to the core message.
- Monochromatic color combination
Usage of the same font, placing the logo in the bottom right corner, and usage of consistent color palette helps to make a presentation look consistent for a professional look and feel. Colors, when randomly combined, do not guarantee a consistent result. It is recommended to work with a palette of 5 colors in total (the given one plus another four).
Adobe color is free and available online. Using Adobe color, you can find out the monochromatic color combination of 5 colors. For e.g. Let us say the main color used in the PowerPoint is green. You can input the RGB for this green color in the Adobe color. The other colors get automatically calculated as part of a color combination. You could also find other powerful color combinations. The most elegant color combination that would help you make the safest choice: monochromatic.
Adobe Color calculated a monochromatic combination of the main color, Green, and give the other 4 colors that perfectly work combined with it. You have darker alternatives of the same green to use as backgrounds and you have lighter alternatives to use as foregrounds. Using these 5 colors in the color palette would help to add a professional look and feel for the presentation slides.
- Chart title and unit of measure
Using the word ‘revenue’ in the title means, it speaks about money. More attention would be given to the relationship between the bars (bigger, smaller, increasing, decreasing). It would be equally important to provide the unit of measure to help the audience clearly understand the numerical value and significance. You can add a small label appropriately, with the right level of contrast to indicate the unit of measure. It does not have to stand out compared to the other content.
- Slide navigators
Self-standing presentations often come as long reports made by multiple sections. The reports usually have a table of contents and then they take you section by section, in order. To support the readers, and effective best practice is the slide navigator. It guides the reader through your presentation to go with the flow.
Slide navigator for slides: This helps to move from one section to another, to know whether to go forward or backward in the flow, to have quick access for the right information.
- The core message – PowerPoint Slide Titles
It would be impactful to use the title to immediately communicate the core message and, eventually, if you find it useful, use the subtitle for the rest. Use action titles to convey the key message of your slide. Action titles are critical to creating slides that sell. One way to check if your PowerPoint slides have effective action titles is to stack your slide titles and see if they make a story. Make sure that all your titles are aligned the same way slide-to-slide. Maintaining a consistent font size can also help keep your PowerPoint presentation polished.
- Presentation handouts
PowerPoint has the option to print the presentation in handout mode. This helps to keep the slide nice and clean. You can write all the related information into the notes. If you can print them, this means you can also print the presentation as a pdf. You can also convert your PowerPoint presentation into a handout report and send it via email. Presentation handouts allow providing detailed information than you would put on a slide. They give your audience the key messages as a takeaway from your presentation, to review later. It reminds them of your presentation meeting. Pay attention to the quality and design of your presentation handouts. In short, think of your handout as another key design element of your presentation.
- White space management
White spaces are a powerful tool because they create contrast with the content and give breath to it. This is true also in text paragraphs. White space includes any empty space on your slides, i.e., above, below, around, and in between elements. These spaces can be split into two groups: active and passive.
Passive white space includes margins or the spaces in between lines of text. It occurs naturally and helps to prevent information overload. Active white space occurs intentionally and is used as a design element to create distinction and hierarchy between elements, drawing attention to what is important. Finally, to leverage the white spaces, do not be afraid of them, for they are great allies. If you respect them, they will enhance your content and improve your design.
- Design for end-user utility
Let us take an example. You have a presentation full of charts and tables. You utilized the principle of data storytelling and made use of colors to create contrasts. Each color signifies a differentiating aspect that guides the audience to the core message easily. Here the colors play a key role in identifying and differentiating among various aspects represented through the charts and tables.
Let us consider a scenario, wherein you printed the entire presentation and gave them as handouts to the audience. Suppose by mistake you printed them in black & white means, the entire idea would lead to confusion. Because the differentiating color aspect is missing in the printed handouts. You should consider every constraint about the way the presentation would be delivered to your audience before you design.
- Professional Add-ins
A recurring task performed manually could lead the designer to make a mistake, as human error. PowerPoint provides the option to create a customize ribbon on functions, a type of PowerPoint Add-in that helps to improve speed and accuracy during the presentation creation.
Think-Cell PowerPoint Add-in: Enables you to quickly create powerful charts directly in PowerPoint, improving speed and accuracy covering wide aspects of chart creation.
It takes time and practice to master these techniques. Start implementing those that already fix your mistakes, as those will have an immediate impact on your working process, giving the maximum benefit in the shortest amount of time.
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