We’ve all been there. Watching a bad presentation slide design that you want to sleep through. 

Nobody wants to go for hours, not even minutes, wishing they’re somewhere else. And if presenting is what you regularly do in your line of work, this could be a scary situation you wouldn’t want to be in. 

Here are presentation slide design tips to help you become a better presenter. In this article, we’ll discuss the following:

  • Things to Avoid on Your Presentations
  • Planning Your Presentation Slide Designs
  • Design Tips for Your Presentation Slides
  • Additional Tips for a Memorable Presentation
  • A Few Presentation Statistics

Let’s get started!

What should I avoid in my presentation?

To know how to be an effective presenter, you need to know first how to NOT annoy your viewers. According to an American Management Association research, the list below is what annoys viewers most about presentations. Make sure that you take note of these to prevent yourself from doing them.

dog looking at camera

Image Credit: theChive

1. Reading Your Presentation

This is the top pet peeve about presenters according to research. Visual aids should only be there to stress your points, not an idiot board to read from. Startups usually make this crucial mistake. And reading your presentation from your startup pitch decks only shows that you’re not imparting any other vital information. 

Doing so gives your audience no reason to listen to you as they can read it themselves. That said, it’s crucial to avoid putting all the information on your slides. Instead, shorten them for easier digestion. Don’t overload your slides with text, and make sure your sentences have variations in length and structure.

Additionally, you may also articulate some valuable information that piques your attendees’ interest. If you have your team with you, try to let each member speak up and explain relevant information. 

2. Little to No Knowledge of the Subject Matter

As the statistics mentioned earlier stated, lack of preparation can cause anxiety and thus dampen your presentation. You don’t have to be an expert on a subject to speak about it. But planning, studying, and preparing for it will allow you to impart valuable info. 

It’s also crucial to organize your slide designs. Practice your whole presentation in front of a mirror or a group of family or friends. Even if you have the best ideas, it is all just an exercise in futility if you can’t communicate them effectively. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

3. Too Much Filler

Also known as speech disfluencies, these are the uhms and aahs we hear from people when making presentations. These interjections or “word whiskers” as some would call them, can make you look unprofessional, so it’s best to avoid them. Whether these are unintentional or not, it will still dull down your credibility.

What you can do in this instance is what we recommended earlier – practice. If practicing before a small group of people is improbable, record yourself while doing your whole presentation. This way, you can see where the fillers appear and take steps to avoid them.

Also, the best way to stop fillers is to break the habit. If you ever catch yourself speaking filler words, stop. Try to repeat the sentence and this time, say the exact word you meant to say. Finally, attend more formal events or settings. This way, you’re more cautious of how you communicate with other people. 

4. Your Presentation is Long

If there’s anything worse than sitting through a boring presentation, it’s sitting through a long and boring presentation. Yes, there are subjects that are less interesting to some. But there are ways you can take to spice it up and get people absorbed.

people sleeping

You can tell a story through your presentation slide designs, add humor to your speech, or keep it short yet straightforward. Avoid adding fluff and get straight to the point to shorten your time and keep people listening. Just how long should your presentation be? Below are some ideas to help you:

  • INC.com quotes comedians for the ideal presentation length, which is “a tight five is better than a sloppy fifteen.”
  • According to the Throughline Blog, twenty minutes is the perfect length for a presentation.
  • On the other hand, the Presentation Training Institute says: 10 slides, 20 minutes, and 30-point font is the most ideal.

5. Speaking with a Monotone Voice

This affirms what was said in the previous subheading. Speaking with a dull/monotone voice takes all the excitement out of any presentation topic. Also, speaking too fast, too slow, or not loud enough can dampen the listeners’ interest. Here are some tips on how to avoid a monotone voice:

  • Enunciate important words to add more significance to the sentence
  • Eliminate unnecessary words
  • Anchor prepositions and articles to primary words
  • Pause more often and when necessary
  • Use emotions when explaining yourself
confused person

6. Poorly-Designed Slides

This is the reason why a vast number of presenters find it challenging to create appealing slides. Poorly-designed slides are a sure-fire way to induce presentation snooze-fests. While there are options for you to make good designs, only the pros can do it better.

They know if the texts are too small to read or if the color combinations aren’t painful to look at. They can create graphics that get your storytelling up to par. Plus, they can help you say what you mean beautifully and engagingly.

Planning Your Presentation Slide Designs

To create a presentation that avoids all the habits that annoy viewers, plan. Here are the steps that will guide you:

  1. Determine the Main Idea of Your Message

To keep your presentations short yet meaty:

  • Identify the core of your message and focus on that.
  • Don’t attempt to take up too many topics as this will not only bore your audience, it may overwhelm them.
  • Identify that central idea and create your presentation around it.

2. Get Rid of the Fluff

To do this, create an outline that will serve as your guide for the whole presentation. Doing so will help keep the non-essentials out and make designing the presentation slides easier. Remind yourself about your core message and get rid of anything that isn’t relevant to it.

Below is a list of what you shouldn’t include:

  • Background information
  • Minute details
  • Explanations of generally known information
  • Trivia
  • Jokes

You can talk about these if you feel necessary, but don’t dwell on them. You can, however, include facts, statistics, figures, quotes, and illustrations.

3. Summarize Your Texts

When created right, people will read everything on your presentation slides. That is if you only include what’s vital. Summarize your texts and think of them as support only to what you’re speaking about. Your texts should be reinforcement only and should be understandable in the shortest time possible.

4. Design Your Slide One Topic at a Time

Visual content draws people in. To make your presentations short, there will be the tendency to fill the slides with as many images and graphics as possible. Don’t. Too much can clutter your slides and overload your audience with info.

The best trick you can do is to limit a single slide with just one message or takeaway. A single fact per slide ensures that you get your audience’s attention and make it stay in their minds.

5. Use Eye-Catching Visuals

A boring presentation is one that doesn’t have visuals. And not just visuals but eye-catching images and graphics. Make sure that yours does this well, not to mention provide support to your talk. Great visuals can help you get rid of redundant texts and convey your message more quickly. 

Design Tips for Your Presentation Slides

Creating the best presentation slide designs is a challenge most presenters face. Here are excellent tips to help you create slide decks that are sure to keep your audiences interested:

1. Ditch the Templates

Your presentation software has templates that you can use to create slide decks. Avoid them like the plague. Everyone’s using them, so it doesn’t do much for uniqueness and originality. Instead, start from scratch or get the assistance of a professional graphic designer.

Penji can help you with this. Watch our demo video to learn more.

2. Limit the Number of Text Lines

Ideally, six lines of text or less are what you should aim for. Anything more than that can confuse your audience. They will either read all of them or listen to you, but probably not both. Also, it won’t be easy to process what you’re saying at the same time reading your slides.

3. Don’t Use Bullet Points

According to research conducted by the International Journal of Business Communication, bullet points, text lists, or numbered items are pointless.

“Subjects who were exposed to a graphic representation of the strategy paid significantly more attention to, agreed more with, and better recalled the strategy than did subjects who saw a (textually identical) bulleted list version.”

Design-wise, here’s what you should do instead:

  • Create visually appealing images and graphics
  • Follow the less is more principle
  • Use icons
  • Add an infographic

Now, this is me explaining in bullet points why you shouldn’t be using bullet points. The fact is, and one that is backed by science, people will remember your slides more than your bullet points.

person smiling

4. Use Sans Serif Fonts

For high legibility, choose the best sans serif fonts. This typeface is where the letters don’t have the extra elements hanging at the end of the strokes. Again, clean and traditional fonts such as Verdana and Helvetica are your best bets. You can use serif fonts for titles, but for body text, choose the sans serif ones.

5. Be Careful with Your Font Size

As mentioned earlier, a 30-font size is ideal to use on presentations. Better yet, use a variety of sizes to place emphasis where needed. Ensure that you maximize the space in your slides while ensuring that people in the back can read them.

6. Use Contrast in Your Texts and Backgrounds

Whether you use plain colors or images as your background, make sure that they contrast the text. This will make your words pop out and become more visible. Pictures and graphics can add interest to your slides but if they make the text less readable, ditch them.

7. Use No More Than Five Colors

Less is more is an excellent principle to follow in presentation slide designs. Therefore, your colors should also have a limit. Five or less is ideal, a rainbow isn’t. Learn about color psychology to help you get the right colors to use and the correct combinations.

8. Use Variety But Be Consistent

Vary the font size, the colors, even the layout. But make sure that you create a presentation slide that’s consistent throughout. For example, if you use illustrations, use them all the way. If you choose to use your brand colors, use them in each of your slides.

9. Create visual hierarchy

You want the most essential information on your slides to be your focal point and stick out. Some ways you can create visual hierarchy is to put in a few bold words, color segregations, and icons, to name a few.

10. Visualize data via infographics or charts

You may need to input a lot of text on your slides to cover information in complete details. But that doesn’t mean it has to be boring. We all know how infographics can increase traffic, pique interest, and add visual aesthetics. That said, visualize your data through eye-catching infographics or charts.

Additional Tips for a Memorable Presentation

Creating an overall memorable presentation isn’t all about sharing your ideas. You should think of your presentation as storytelling. It is about communicating what you know and resonating with your audience. In a nutshell, the following are the strategies you need to use for a memorable presentation:

  • Research your topic
  • Know your audience
  • Keep it simple
  • Keep it real
  • Create amazing visuals
  • Be relatable
  • Give an “a-ha” moment
  • Give an impactful conclusion

A Few Presentation Statistics

To better understand the importance of a good presentation, we need to get insightful data from statistics. So we looked at studies and surveys to get a pulse of what’s essential when creating presentation slide designs. Here’s what we gathered:

  • A Clinical Psychological Science published by Sage Journals found out that 90% of anxiety people feel before giving a presentation is due to lack of preparation.
  • A survey conducted by Presentation Panda found out that a well-designed presentation slide deck gives confidence to 91% of presenters.
  • According to a 3M Corporation and Zabisco study, our brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than texts, thus the importance of both texts and images.
  • Design is crucial to a presentation as 79% of respondents agree or strongly agree that “Most presentations are boring.”
  • However, the same survey also found that 45% of presenters find creating attractive presentation slides complex.

Lastly, a Forbes article describes how a good presentation is all about data and a story. It tells how American psychologist Jerome Seymour Bruner suggested that humans will remember a fact 22 times more likely when it has been told in a story. 

person smiling

So, taking note of these data will significantly help you create the best presentation and avoid boring your viewers to sleep.

Final Thoughts

Touch the hearts and minds of your audience by putting thought into your presentations. Carefully planned presentation slide designs are the key. Make sure to know what needs to be done.

Need something designed? Sign up for any of Penji’s plans to have our team create your presentation slide decks for you.