First off and most importantly, remember the main rule; Text on each slide should take up no more than 20% of the space. Adhere to this and your presentation will look professional.
With the text proportion taken care of, you can deal with the details.
This article will explore essential presentation tips for non-designers:
- Google Slides and presentation template explained
- Find out how to create a presentation with step-by-step instructions
- Discover services that simplify creating presentations
- Learn the trade secrets of professional designers for picture and icon sourcing
Free presentation templates
Are you looking for some presentation design ideas?
The team at SweetCV team has developed 2 presentation templates that can be easily downloaded and used for non-commercial purposes.
Using our templates for your presentation:
- Follow the link to download our presentation file for free, they have been created on Google Slides and each can be adapted for your work.
- Each presentation has filled sample text and graphics so that you can imagine your presentation. You can make each element your own edit, add and delete.
So, select one of our 2 free Google Slides Google presentation templates below and get started:
If you have PowerPoint open and think that you’re all set to choose a template, then think again!
The key to creating a successful presentation is choosing the right information for your slides.
You need to consider the information before jumping ahead to design elements. The best way to do this is by using a question-and-answer format to plan your slides. Let’s take a look at what you should address:
Step 1: Think about the presentation delivery situation. Will you be present in person during the presentation or will it be watched without you?
The conditions under which people will see your presentation make an impact: Are you going to deliver a speech or report with your presentation displayed on the big screen, or will it be emailed and watched without you there to expand on the text presented in each slide?
Either way, here are our presentation tips for each situation:
If you are presenting in person, at a lecture, conference, or business meeting then the text should be kept to an absolute minimum. Reduce it wherever possible as you have the benefit of a speaker.
The focus of the audience should be on the speaker, not the slides. Use the slides to demonstrate information that gives a visual report and supports what the speaker is dictating. The key components will be pictures, infographics, graphics, animations, and videos. Any text included should be in the form of to-the-point, well-formulated phrases.
Why is that?
- Longer texts take time to read and detract from the speaker.
- People do not remember the details of a continuous text and might tire of the presentation more quickly.
Thanks to the speaker, you can deliver a great presentation with minimal text. Such a presentation may consist only of pictures or titled sections of the speaker's report. With somebody to give a detailed explanation whilst the audience views key points on the slides, the audience will pay more attention to what is being presented.
In a presentation that will be watched without a speaker, you need to inform the viewer and leave them without any questions. Presentations for investors and presentation reports are often sent by mail and viewed remotely so it is important they present all the details in manageable ‘chunks’ of information. The text should still be no more than 30% of the slide. It is important to be concise, each slide must clearly express a whole idea. There should be no room for confusion.
Once you answer this question you can use it as the basis for the visual elements in your presentation.
Step 2: Who is your target audience?
The content of the presentation, the tone, the means of visualization, and the amount of prehistory (context) depend on the audience.
It is important to know how deeply your viewers already understand the subject.
The presentation you give on string theory for 7th graders will be very different from the one you would want for a room full of students from the Faculty of Physics. The complexity of images or diagrams, the terms you would use or exclude, and the visualization tools all need to be carefully tailored to the audience.
So, the age and background of the audience must be taken into account. Younger audiences might prefer more media than adults and professionals care to keep them engaged and learning something valuable.
If you are presenting a product to an investor or someone further up the hierarchy then you will want to feature much more specific visuals. Accurate and detailed with facts, figures, and data analysis. But technical slides full of facts and figures are less suitable if you are presenting the product to a consumer. In the latter case, you want to establish a rapport and an emotional connection.
So when creating a presentation, keep in mind the typical image of your audience and adjust the content of the presentation to him.
Once you have your situation and audience considered you can move on to the practical presentation creation.
Step 3: Plan your presentation with a developing plot
An audience has to be kept engaged during a presentation. If you don’t want to run the risk of boring everyone in the first few minutes then it needs to be interesting. The best way to keep their attention is to give your presentation a quality plot just like a movie.
In other words, you need storytelling. This can be difficult but is a brilliant tool, to find out more in full you can read this article.
If you do not have enough time, then here are some key points 👇
The overall plot is completely up to you, but generally, it can be divided into the following elements:
- Tie. Your initial few slides should present the context, like the beginning of a book setting the scene. Open your presentation with the background and issues.
Example №1: For a product presentation you might begin by listing the current problems faced by the consumer.
Example №2: The first slides of a presentation for a lecture or report, discuss the history and theory.
- Development of action. This is the main part of your presentation.
Here you should detail the course of your research and present any new solutions, products, or innovations. Explain the properties of a product, share data analysis or the story of your brand, etc.
- Culmination. Here is where you should place the most important thing you have to say during the whole presentation. Show the results of your findings, or highlight the benefits of a product
- The denouement. The final slides of the presentation should bring it to a logical conclusion and leave the viewers with something memorable that reiterates your main point.
Your finishing slides should give a summary of the whole presentation with important parts highlighted. You may want to include a call to action to motivate the viewers. Providing your contact information is an ideal way to end.
All good movies and books have these elements throughout.
Pro-TipCreate a story on your slides and in your report. People love stories. This is how we better perceive information and build emotional connections. Research on this topic.
The following questions can help you to plan a story layout and create an easy presentation:
- What is the presentation topic?
- Why is it important for the viewer and why should they spend time on it?
- What will the viewer take away from watching the presentation or gain by using the product?
Plot template idea for presenting a product:
- The problem facing the consumer market.
- The solution/idea that you offer. Product presentation.
- The benefits of your idea.
- How your idea works: its features and applied technologies.
- A story or anecdote about a company or team that demonstrates why they should be trusted with the solution.
- Call to action: tempt them to buy, motivate them to learn more / invite them to collaborate, and welcome them to ask questions about your product.
Here is a template for the history presentation:
- Context: introduce what will be discussed in the presentation and any basic concepts.
- Overview of events or personalities
- Event analysis
Giving your presentation a plot provides an automatic structure. If it is well-thought with checkpoints then the viewers will absorb more of the information presented to them.
Pro-TipWhat if the text for your marketing presentation is 10 pages of solid text?
Based on the plot layout above, arrange all the information in the appropriate order: first, find the background or any issues, then the main part, any arguments, and finally conclusions. Divide the text first into sections and then into subsections. Don’t miss any key information.
Step 4: Creating a presentation layout
Once you have your plot structured, exhale, because you are finished with your prep. Now you can open PowerPoint!
How to create a layout with PowerPoint or a similar presentation software program:
- Add a few blank slides (based on the structure you have already chosen) and place the required text on each of them.
- Now is a good time to check if your information is clear and to the point. Nothing should be superfluous.
- Forget about the design, for now, black text on a white background will suffice. Your priority is to make a meaningful coherent presentation for now. You can make it beautiful later.
- Remember no solid text, you must leave space for better visualization.
Now you have your first draft ready! Next, we will work on final edits to the text.
Step 5: Edit the presentation text
Now it’s time to be ruthless. Like a real editor, you need to cut the text down on each slide.
Be brutal when it comes to removing unnecessary details; Your goal is to make all the sentences as clear as possible and leave only the necessary information. Having too much text is one of the most common presentation design mistakes to avoid.
Pro-TipIn the presentation for the report, the text should occupy no more than 20% of one slide. For a presentation that will be viewed without a speaker, the text per slide should be up to 30%.
Guide for text editing:
- Filler words and expressions are your enemies when you are aiming for key phrases. Remove them all, and don’t use sequencers like “first of all” because they are unnecessary to the point you’re making. Don’t say “without a shadow of a doubt” or “as everyone knows” it adds nothing and if everyone knows they are already thinking about it.
- Generalizations, if they are not part of the narrative, or a selling point then avoid generalizations. Replace them with clear phrases, facts, or figures. Phrases such as “a wide range of services” should instead be presented as a list of concrete services. Quote an actual date instead of saying “mid-March” and link a specific source of information instead of saying “some scientist” or “researchers found”.
- Cliches and clerical language should also need to be removed “as well as” can be “and”. People are often irritated by overly formal language such as in connection with or in addition to etc.
- Evaluation of adjectives and adverbs will make your presentation less objective, it may come across as biased if it is full of judgments as opposed to facts. Unless this is your goal, remove words like deserved, or high quality, and replace them with quantitative data. Don’t say ‘precisely’, or ‘exactly’ or no less than 300 just say 300!
- Verbal and adverbial redundancy. Try to replace “I intend to“ with “I will“, or “to carry out measurements“ with “to measure“. Also, make sure you simplify complex expressions - “carry out activities aimed at distributing goods“ can be said with “sell“. So go through anything long and paraphrase.
If you are giving the presentation with a speech you can write sentences in the form of slogans (this will shorten the text) and replace most of the text with pictures, graphics, and infographics.
It's a good idea to use lists or bullet points on slides.
If you have worked well to edit the text, then the presentation will be good regardless of the design you choose.
Step 6: Presentation design elements
An obvious choice for non-designers is to use presentation templates.
There are many services where you can find these templates and we will take a look at an easy option a little further on.
If you’d like to give your audience the best presentation design, here are some things to consider:
- Minimalism is better than a slide that is oversaturated with graphic elements. Don't be afraid to leave a white background and opt for classic, black text, so long as it’s eye-catching.
- Streamline fonts. Preferably, choose one font for the entire presentation, at max, adhere to one for the headlines, and another for the body of the text. Free fonts from Google can be downloaded here.
- Limit the color palette. Select 2-3 complementary colors for the presentation: one for the background, one for the text, and one for the accents. Click here for some color scheme ideas.
- Use bright, high-quality photos for great visuals. We will show you where to source them like a professional.
- Don't be afraid of blank areas. Information is easier to absorb when it is less cluttered. You can judge your Slideship by looking at it from a distance. Take a few steps, your eyes should be able to see all the information at once. If not, then you need to remove the item in question.
Some great services to check out that are on the top of everyone’s recommendation list are PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Google Slides, and Canva.
You can create an in-browser presentation online with some, while the rest allow you to create designs offline as well.
PowerPoint as mentioned previously is more than ideal. It has convenient tools, easy-to-edit templates, and the ability to complex animation of elements on the slide. You can animate transitions between slides, it’s a great option for a technology presentation. PowerPoint templates are a great alternative to Photoshop. Which is an apt but expensive option. Another very similar service to consider is Apple Keynote.
Google Slides has a very user-friendly interface and is again similar to PowerPoint. It features its own simple templates and provides basic animation for slide customization. You can export files to PDF and PPTX so they can be opened in PowerPoint elsewhere. Ideal for storing on work-based cloud storage.
Canva. The templates have a modern edgy appearance but the cooler ones come with a cost. The free features are somewhat rudimentary but are still perfect for presentation tasks. If looks are important and you can afford the cost it is the best choice for aesthetic presentation.
Where to get pictures and illustrations for presentations
Many designers have presentations with stunning visuals but they don’t all happen to be photographers and they also aren’t hiring a pro for every project. The modern world is fast-paced, full of deadlines, and quick turnarounds are expected. With projects being so fleeting most designers source their images from stock photography sites. It is cheaper and more convenient. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel when the stock sites are full of quality photos, icons, and illustrations.
So now you know their secret, here is a list of free* stock image providers which can give you access to cool photos, pictures, and icons for your next presentation:
- Photostocks - Unsplash, Pixabay, Pexels
- Illustrations - FreePick
- Icons - Iconfinder, Flaticon, The Unknown Project, Google Material Icons
* Pay attention to the license, you may be required to specify the author to prevent copyright infringement.
☝️ Choose photos that have a similar style, with similar colors and resolutions to give your presentation coherence. Avoid imagery that is clichéd.
☝️ The unity of colors and styles is just as important with illustrations
☝️ With icons or clipart, look at the contour thickness and the fill of the icons and keep it uniform throughout the slides of your presentation so that each one appears to be a part of something whole.
Don't forget to add your skills in making presentations to your resume or CV. If you still haven't created a resume in SweetCV - do it now!