10 tips to create a stellar, engaging presentation deck

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Female speaker giving presentation in a seminarPresentations and public speaking are not everybody’s cup of tea. But, an engaging deck can help ensure your presentation goes smoothly. It not only helps attract and keep the viewers’ attention, but can also aid you in better getting your message across. While a poorly designed and executed presentation can distract, a stellar presentation deck will help you achieve your goals. Read on for 10 tips to ensure your presentations are visually pleasing and engaging:

1. First and foremost, focus on the content

As important as it is to have a visually dynamic presentation deck, the key component to your presentation is interesting and engaging content that is relevant to your audience. Create an outline for your presentation and ensure the points you make are interesting, concise and key to the topic at hand.

2. Develop a look for the presentation and continue that look throughout the deck

Having visual consistency helps to unify the slides and keep the reader focused on the content and not distracted by a lack of visual harmony. Use the same colors and typography throughout to give a visual flow.

3. Select fonts and colors that will be easy to read and won’t be a distraction

It is imperative that the presentation deck is designed to read well and serve as a background to the content. If it is a corporate piece, make sure you follow brand guidelines for fonts and colors to connect with your company’s branding. If it is a standalone presentation, select fonts that are clean and simple, and consider an accent font to add personality. Also remember to use colors that are pleasing to the eye. The information on the slides is key and shouldn’t be overwhelmed by garish colors and illegible fonts. Also make sure the fonts are at a size that is easy to read from a distance.

4. Don’t overwhelm the slides with too much text

A presentation deck is meant to be a guide for the speaker, not a script to follow verbatim. The audience will be listening to what you say– forcing them to try to listen and read at the same time makes it harder for them to comprehend your message. Keep it simple; highlight the main points you are covering on each slide, and then speak to the slide in more detail. You can use the slide notes area to write comments for yourself to cover, but don’t give it all away on the slide. If you’re presenting complex information, you can always create a secondary document that carries the content and give that as a handout after the presentation.

5. Consider your topic transitions

Often a presentation will be broken down into numerous sub-topics. In order to help your audience digest the information more effectively, visual breaks in your presentation are a necessity. If you have a presentation where content is presented on a predominantly white slide, use a title slide of a different color or with a full image background to help the viewer pause and understand that you are moving into another topic.

6. Use high quality graphics and photography

Your audience will judge your presentation based on the visuals you choose. Inserting low quality clip art into your presentation is distracting and looks unprofessional. There are many stock photography sites available that give access to beautiful, high-quality photography and illustrations. Utilize these sites to select photos and graphics that fit in with the deck’s overall visual theme. This will create consistency in your slides and help viewers relate to the presentation topic.

7. Use clean and easy-to-understand charts and graphs for data

Charts and graphs are meant to make data easier to understand. Choose clean fonts and bold colors that match the rest of your deck (but also create contrast) to make the data easier to digest.

8. Avoid using too many special effects and animations

PowerPoint offers many types of animations that are meant to add “pizazz” to your deck – however, when overused, these animations end up being a distraction. When making the choice to incorporate one of these effects, ask yourself, “is this adding to my presentation or distracting from it?” You want the audience to listen to your presentation and reflect on the content, not be thrown off by the way the headline or image zooms in.

9. Limit the number of slides you use

Using too many slides and flipping through them too quickly can be overwhelming to the audience. Having the ideal number of slides and speed requires a good marriage between the content per slide and how that content is presented. Each slide should carry one to two talking points where the presenter can stop on the slide and elaborate on those points for the audience. Presenting one slide per minute is a good rule of thumb.

10. Practice, practice, practice

A visually stunning deck is a great way to hold your audience’s attention, however it won’t do much good if the person giving the presentation is unprepared. A successful presentation requires a combination of displaying the content effectively and presenting the content in an engaging way. Practice your presentation to ensure the timing is right and all the necessary points are covered – this will allow you to see where there are gaps in the visuals and establish a confident tone that will hold the audience’s interest.

Whether you love or hate public speaking, use these tips in your next presentation deck to retain attention and better emphasize your message. And, if you’re not sure where to start, The Agency at Sikich can help with the visuals and messaging to create an effective, engaging presentation.

This publication contains general information only and Sikich is not, by means of this publication, rendering accounting, business, financial, investment, legal, tax, or any other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should you use it as a basis for any decision, action or omission that may affect you or your business. Before making any decision, taking any action or omitting an action that may affect you or your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. You acknowledge that Sikich shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by you or any person who relies on this publication.

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