Think about the last PowerPoint presentation that you had to sit through at work. More than likely, you found some elements of it to be rather boring. You probably don’t want to have viewers think the same of any presentation that you put together.
Fortunately, there are a few simple tricks to quickly and easily improve any presentation. You can use these even if you’ve never spent a minute in art class. Best of all, they won’t cost you a dime.
Make Each Slide Follow a Single Theme
Ironically, PowerPoint presentations actually looked nicer back in the 90s than they do today. Users back then often weren’t aware of the fact that they could change each slide individually, so they just went with one of the default templates. This forced all of their slides to follow a theme.
While these themes were normally bland, they didn’t look cluttered. These days, users can have the best of both worlds by downloading free PowerPoint templates and applying uniform looks to their presentations.
Users have this insatiable need to tweak things just because they can. Don’t set a different background for each frame. This looks bad, and it’s a great deal of extra work you don’t need to be doing.
Content creators are putting up new templates all the time, and an overwhelming majority of them won’t cost you a dime. All of the templates that ship with PowerPoint have been used so many times that they’re old hat by now. Acquiring a nice one from the Internet is a great way to spruce things up in moments.
Get Rid of Unnecessary Clutter
Consider the antiquated look of old-school monochrome PowerPoint from 1987. Is it hideous? Absolutely, but at least it’s not cluttered. If you’re like most casual designers, then you’ve shoved unnecessary items onto slides that really doesn’t contribute to the message you’re trying to share.
Take a look at every animation, sound effects and even video you have embedded in your presentation. If something needs to be explained graphically, then that’s perfectly fine. Some very nice presentations on electronics and mobile devices have incorporated schematics.
Be sure that anything you do incorporate doesn’t overpower the presentation itself. Clip art in particular has taken a good deal of flack from designers as of late. Consider replacing clip art with diagrams. This is especially useful for anyone who has to map out workflows or provide viewers with a walk-through of a particular business process.
In many cases, less is more so don’t feel like you’re making your presentation boring. You’re more than likely making it less distracting.
Use the Seven-by-Seven Rule
While you shouldn’t be afraid of adding additional content to slides, a good general rule of thumb is the seven-by-seven rule. This stipulates that each virtual card should have up to five lines with five or six words a piece. There are plenty of times when you’ll need to break it. Don’t be too verbose if you don’t have to be, however.
Leverage Microsoft’s Default Tools
While there are thousands of add-on modules for PowerPoint, chances are that you don’t actually need any of them. You can get by just fine without them. While you’ll still want to go easy on adding animations and such, there’s a perfectly good control for them included with the software by default.
Don’t Forget to Proofread
Even old versions of PowerPoint came with a spell check feature. Unfortunately, many people forget that it’s there. If PowerPoint is flagging words as misspelled, then make sure to fix them. You can always add proper nouns to the dictionary so the program will stop flagging them.
Restrict Yourself to One or Two Typefaces
Back when print was king, type designers advocated using only two fonts on a document. They said you needed one for headings and a different one for body text. Your computer probably came with hundreds of different styles installed. Resist the urge to go crazy with these. More than one or two is overkill. If you’ve used a number of them on a single card, then take a moment to switch them back.
Editing your presentation in line with these tips shouldn’t take more than a few minutes, but it can certainly help anyone look much more professional.