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How to Design a Presentation to Engage Your Audience

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Whether it’s for a start-up pitch, a product launch, or a new business proposal, a well-designed presentation can make all the difference in how your message is received. Here are some best practices for presentation design that can help you create a winning presentation that engages and impresses your audience.

  1. Define your objective and audience. Before you start designing your presentation, it’s important to define your goals and your audience. Ask yourself: What do I want my audience to take away from this presentation? Who are they, and what are their goals and expectations? Once you have a clear understanding, you can tailor your presentation to meet their needs as well as yours.
  2. Keep it simple. When it comes to presentation design, less is almost always more. Keep your design simple and uncluttered, with a clear hierarchy of information. Supplemental information can always be provided later on in a different way. Use a limited color palette and stick to one or two fonts to create a cohesive look. Avoid using too many animations or transitions, which can be distracting and detract from your message. To use an all-too-common example, avoid slides filled with company logos.
  3. Use high-quality visuals. Visuals are a key component of any presentation. Use high-quality images and professional-looking graphics and charts to illustrate your points and break up the text. Be sure to use visuals that are relevant to your message and audience. Avoid using generic stock photos or clip art that can look unprofessional or cliché.
  4. Create a clear and consistent layout. A clear and consistent layout can help your audience follow your presentation and understand your message. Use a template to create a consistent layout for each slide, with a clear hierarchy of information. Make sure your text is readable and easy to understand, with a legible font size and spacing.
  5. Practice good typography. Typography is an extremely important element of any design. Use type to create a clear hierarchy of information, with different font sizes and weights to distinguish headings, subheadings, and body text. Stick to one or two font families that complement each other, and avoid using too many different styles. Overuse of bold and italic looks unprofessional and will detract from your message. If your slide deck will be shared and viewed on different computers, consider embedding the fonts because powerpoint is notorious for swapping fonts on different machines, which can result in ugly line breaks and text that cuts off. This includes the labels on powerpoint-generated charts, so considering creating the charts in Illustrator (or another program) and then importing them to Powerpoint.
  6. Be mindful of accessibility. Accessibility is always an important consideration in graphic design. Up to 1 in 4 U.S. adults have some sort of disability. Make sure your presentation is accessible to everyone, including people with vision impairment, hearing impairment, autism spectrum disorder, and epilepsy. For example, use high-contrast colors and clear typography to make your presentation readable for people with visual impairments. There are many classes available online to learn how to design for accessibility.
  7. Test your presentation. Before you present your material, make sure to test it out a few times. Check your work for any errors or inconsistencies, and make sure all of your visuals and animations work properly. Consider doing a run-through with a colleague or friend to get feedback and make any necessary adjustments.

By following these best practices for presentation design, you can create a compelling and effective presentation that engages and informs your audience. With these tips in mind, you’ll be well on your way to wow your audience.