Presentation

HOW TO MAKE YOUR POWERPOINT POP

Juliana Boyle

How many times has this happened to you? You’re sitting in class, watching a group present their project, taking notes. But your eyes keep getting lost in the big chunk of text on the screen, or you can’t follow the flow of information and images properly. Or maybe you’re just bored! 

Small text on a busy background, poorly cropped stock photos… these can ruin a presentation as surely as a poorly researched market analysis. I’ve put together 5 tricks to make your presentation look professional, easy to understand, and memorable. 

  1. Pick an aesthetic. Stick with it.

    1. Choose three colors: background (white, black, or very pale/muted colors), display text (bright, but not obnoxiously so -- should contrast significantly with background), and main text (probably black, unless black is your background). 

      1. Pro tip: google “color palettes” for inspiration -- I’ve found some of my favorites from the instagram account “coolors.co” here: https://www.instagram.com/coolors.co/

    2. Choose two fonts: display and content. 

      1. Pro tip: google “font pairings” for either google fonts or Word fonts. My personal favorite is Playfair Display x Lato

    3. Choose an image style: if you’re going to use icons, decide if they should be black and white or color, filled in, or outlined. If you’re going to use images, decide if they should be black and white or colorful, and for goodness’ sake please don’t use stock images. 

      1. Pro tip: www.flaticon.com has thousands of free icons, most with different variations in different colors or with/without outlines.

      2. Pro tip: www.unsplash.com has thousands of free, gorgeous, high-quality images. You can even find “albums” other users have made of different topics, like “business” pictures, specific locations, or specific personas. 

      3. Pro tip: use .pngs where you can -- these are photos with no background. It looks much more professional -- just add “png” to your google image search!

  2. Don’t overload your slides. 

    1. Use the 6x6 rule: no more than 6 words in a line, no more than 6 lines in a slide

    2. Try to break things into bullet points. Where this isn’t possible, use short sentences, with large spaces between lines. 

      1. Pro tip: everything can be broken into bullet points. 

    3. Every single word on the slide should add new meaning. If it doesn’t, cut it. There’s nothing worse than redundant, repetitive slides. 

  3. Organize your slides clearly.

    1. People’s eyes automatically seek out the top left corner of anything (containing text) that they’re looking at. So don’t try to get quirky and right-align your titles; keep your most important content in the top left. 

      1. Pro tip: My go-to slide structure blocks of the left third (roughly) for “insights” -- aka the main takeaway from the slide. This replaces titles (which are often redundant/unnecessary) and functions as a summary of your findings.

    2. Use Word/Google’s built-in charts to organize your content. They’re typically very aesthetically pleasing, easy to navigate and add some variety to your slides. 

    3. Don’t be afraid to use guiding arrows or lines to divide/direct the flow of content. This helps people understand and follow the flow of your presentation more clearly.

  4. Use “tags” if you have repeating elements.

    1. For example: if you’re going to identify the favorite food of several groups of people, in the first slide write out Favorite Product (emoji): bananas. Then, in the following slides, you can just use that emoji to signal “Favorite Product.”

    2. I like to use emojis, but simple icons or acronyms work as well. 


  1. Hierarchize your information.

    1. Use subtitles -- a smaller version of your display font, or a different color of your content font -- to divide the content of your slide into easily-digestible sections.

    2. Use your display color, or add a fourth color specifically for highlights. Alternatively (or additionally), you can bold the text to make it jump out on the page. 

I hope these tips help you make those perfect presentations! Enjoy and good luck.