Ten Commandments of PowerPoint Presentation Design

Ever wonder why everybody equates “PowerPoint” with “bullet points”? It’s because Microsoft® made the default layout for new slides automatically create a bullet-point list of text.

Don’t be lured into the bullet point trap. Experiment with different slide layouts – especially with “Blank”-and with placing text and graphics in different locations. Your slides are actually blank canvasses on which you can put anything any place. If you find that scary – like too much freedom – gain some confidence by learning some elements of good design. An excellent source of ideas for color combinations, as well as for the density and placement of text and graphics, is magazine ads, and even billboards. The subject matter is irrelevant. Simply identify ads that you find pleasing and effective, note their color schemes and structure, and you will soon discover some common characteristics, e.g. simple, uncluttered layouts; easy-to-read text; etc.

To give you a quick start on how to design presentations with a bit of polish and pizazz, I’ve developed the Ten Commandments of PowerPoint® Presentation Design. They are the first steps to designing heavenly presentations.

1. Thou shalt not clutter a slide with bullet points.

2. Thou shalt use text and graphics colors that have high contrast with the background.

3. Thou shalt ensure that text is large enough to be read by those sitting in the back of the room.

4. Thou shalt never use animations gratuitously.

5. Thou shalt choose transitions that reveal slides in logical ways.

6. Thou shalt design only uncluttered, balanced slides with white space to ensure aesthetic composition.

7. Thou shalt use graphics rather than bullet points if it more clearly transmits information.

8. Thou shalt design slides that are pleasing to look at.

9. Thou shalt never need to say “I know you can’t read this but…”.

10. Thou shalt honor thy audience by designing presentations that are interesting and engaging.

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