Designing Effective PowerPoint Presentations

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Some advice for designing effective PowerPoint presentations.

Effective PowerPoint design – it’s in the eye of the beholder.

We’ve already written about the power of images in designing effective PowerPoint Presentations (and how to change the size of an image for PowerPoint); if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right. This is where the design element comes in.

If your image is so small you can hardly see it, what’s the point? However, does that mean we want to stretch it to make it fit? Not if it means that you-

  1. lose the resolution of the image and it ends up all pixelated, or
  2. don’t keep the proportions constant. In other words you stretch the image unevenly in the horizontal or vertical direction and you end up with images straight from the Hall of Mirrors at the fairground i.e. figures either too tall and skinny or short and squat.

You can leave a border (frame) around the image but try to make it harmonious with the image and not a distraction. Choose the colour carefully.

The Best Tip for Designing Effective PowerPoint Presentations

Where possible, an image that bleeds off the sides of the slide – the image is the slide – has by far the most impact. It makes the slide feel full, and gives status to the image. It says, “this picture fully represents what I’m about to say, and I love it!”. Which in turn gets your audience to really take it in, and store the image (and the words you link to it through your speech) in their memory.

But it doesn’t have to be a full bleed. Here’s a very short video from Powerpoint’s MVP (Most Valued Professional) Ellen Finkelstein showing the 3-side rule (where the image bleeds off on 3 sides only) and how effective it is.

Ellen has her own blog on presentation design. She is the most useful Powerpoint help desk and is never short on advice for desisning effective PowerPoint presentations. It is well worth checking out.

For more of my thoughts on great PowerPoint slide design, click here.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey


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