Business Presentation Tips – Mastering the Art of Slide Design for Your Presentation
Whenever we talk about mastering your business presentations (or other presentations, for that matter), we always refer to the twin elements of slide delivery and slide design. If you have ever found yourself in a bind, thinking about the best way to arrange your thoughts on your slides, you are not alone. Part of delivering your message effectively is having to plan how your slides are designed. Too many words and you will just lose your audience; too little details may be the recipe for miscommunication.
Slide design focuses on the big question: how do I design my presentation deck/slides? You may start with the misconception that the best slide designs require flashy animations, colourful logos/images, and chunky charts. However, the design process requires careful planning and a keen understanding of broad principles to benefit your audience. Instead of just thinking about how to beautify your slides, start exploring how you can help your audience understand your slides.
Today, we will look into some guiding principles you can use to help you with your slide design for your big presentation!
Keep It Short & Simple!
You may subscribe to the tempting idea that formal or business presentations require you to fit as much information as you can in one deck of slides. This often results in unwieldy, confusing, and complicated slides that are likely to lose your audience. Instead, aim for simplicity in your slide designs by identifying key ideas for each slide. Start by creating a storyboard or a plan to arrange all your specific ideas, ensuring that each slide is limited to one idea.
One example of this principle in action is the Takahashi method. The presentation technique was an accidental creation of Masayoshi Takahashi, who wanted to create simple slides (with limited knowledge of PowerPoint). The main design principle was to use simple texts with a large font and a plain background. More importantly, each slide kept to one main idea (see this sharing by Present Better by 24slides: https://24slides.com/presentbetter/alternative-presentation-styles-takahashi/).
Of course, there is no need to completely follow the style (especially if you are limited by constraints, e.g., corporate branding). However, there is value in keeping your main ideas for each slide short and simple!
Keep It Purposeful!
Beyond quantity, you can boost the quality of your slides by assigning each slide with a purpose. This is more than just keeping your points short or specific. As you go through the design process, ask yourself: what is each slide’s effect in my deck? Your slides can be designed as a coherent experience or with a logical flow, even for a business or sales presentation. To achieve this, you must make your slides purposeful!
Start by viewing your slides through your audience’s lens. What are they interested in? One powerful way of designing your slides is to dedicate the first 1-2 slides to relevancy. Show your audience why your sharing is something important to them. We call this creating the relevancy bridge. For an example of this, Zuora’s sales deck received recognition for its persuasive value – among others, the deck starts by creating urgency/relevancy within the first few slides (to view the slides, drop by this article by Andy Raskin, The Greatest Sales Deck I’ve Ever Seen: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/greatest-sales-deck-ive-ever-seen-andy-raskin).
Keep It Engaging!
Even as you start to create your simple and purposeful slides, you should keep an eye out for engaging elements. Your slides should boost your entertainment value on stage – they should play a supporting role (instead of up-staging you!) for your presentation’s success. In line with this, design your slide deck with elements that reach your audience or encourage them to critically unpack your main points.
One method of achieving this is by adding summary or check-in slides that consolidates your sharing. The former sets out the main content that you have shared for the audience’s benefit. The latter opens a conversation with your audience members, creating a constructive environment for them to participate. For presenters who are comfortable with technology tools, you can incorporate instructions for collaborative platforms (such as Mentimeter or Google Jamboard) (e.g., adding a QR code on a slide). Beyond anything else, this acts as a pattern-break for your audience members!
Bring Your Presentation to the Next Level
While your delivery and body language elements remain important, we wanted to shift our focus to the oft-neglected slide design element. Designing an effective slide deck is not exclusive to someone with a creative bone; you too can craft engaging slides as long as you have the key broad principles in mind. We challenge you to try your hand at designing your new business presentations slides and bring your sharing to the next level!
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