A collage of colorful PowerPoint designs organized into tidy rows

5 golden rules of PowerPoint design

april 30, 2024

Wondering how to design the perfect PowerPoint presentation? It's easier than you think–just follow five simple rules to get started:

1. Consider using templates

When building a slide deck, it’s important to maintain consistency throughout. We want to ensure we are using consistent font styles, colors and themes. This can be tricky when designing from scratch, so why not start from a template?

Microsoft Create contains hundreds of pre-made, customizable PowerPoint templates, which means you don’t have to start from scratch and the fonts and colors are already set for you.

Simply choose a template from the gallery, customize it as needed, and you are done!

2. No walls of text

We’ve all seen PowerPoint presentations where slides contain too much text. The human brain struggles to listen and read at the same time. If you are presenting to an audience, keep the text on slides to a minimum.

Consider employing the “5-5-5" rule. No more than 5 lines, no more than 5 words, no more than 5 minutes. Think short and sharp memory joggers instead of rambling paragraphs.

Where possible, consider replacing text with visuals to represent your point. People remember images more than words.

3. Be mindful of colors and fonts

No one wants their audience to leave with a headache after an hour of straining to read slides. We need to ensure that our presentation is easy to read for everyone – even for those in the nosebleed seats at the back! Think about the font you are using. Is it appropriate for the presentation? What about the font size? Can people at the back easily read? What about people with visual impairment? Ensure all text is at least 24pts.

When it comes to color, ensure all slides have good contrast. Dark backgrounds should have light font and vice versa.

4. Use animation sparingly

Animation can really liven up an otherwise flat presentation. However, it should be used thoughtfully and sparingly. Too much of the wrong type of animation with objects flying in and zooming around the screen, while fun, can look confusing and unprofessional.

Animation should be subtle (especially for pitch decks and other formal presentations). With every animation you add, ask yourself, "Is this going to enhance my presentation or distract from it?"

5. Engage your audience

When presenting to an audience, there is usually an awkward time before the presentation begins while the speaker waits for everyone to arrive. During this time, people may start scrolling on their phones or get distracted with work emails, and it can be hard to pull the audience back.

To avoid this issue, work to grab your audience's attention before the presentation even starts. Instead of just having the title slide on the screen, consider creating "kiosk slides." These are a series of slides that contain a combination of interesting things for the audience to look at or engage with. Maybe you have an interesting image? A funny quote or fun facts? Or maybe there is a question you want them to think about prior to the session?

Create these slides and have them automatically cycle round before the presentation starts.

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