Design, How To's, Marketing

Slides are FREE! Use them.


Over the years, I’ve noticed that a lot of folks relate the number of slides in a presentation to the number of minutes the presentation should take. Example: a 10 minute presentation should be a 10 slide presentation. Or a 5 slide presentation should last 5 minutes. Who decided one slide equals one minute? And why do we feel the need to decide on the number of slides before developing the message and supporting points?

Turns out … slides are free!

Why limit yourself? There isn’t a charge per slide, so why not use as many slides as you need to build a glorious presentation?!

Previously I wrote a post on what to think about before getting started in PowerPoint. Now it’s time to talk about some design tips.

I really enjoy this article that TED’s in-house expert, Aaron Weyenberg, wrote about the big picture design and some tactical tips. I highly recommend reading the entire thing, but here’s a highlight of his top 10:

  1. Think about your slides last
  2. Create a consistent look and feel
  3. Think about topic transitions
  4. With text, less is always more
  5. Use photos that enhance meaning
  6. Go easy on the effects and transitions
  7. Use masking to direct attention in images
  8. Try panning large images
  9. For video, don’t use autoplay
  10. Reproduce simple charts and graphs

Great photo example

I have 4 more I’d like to add to this list:

  1. Keep a good pace. This is where breaking up content on multiple slides is helpful. The timing and pace of your presentation matters. Keep people interested an engaged by moving through content at a good pace. Think about how your favorite movies or comedians rely on timing, pace and visuals. Same thing.
  2. Set some parameters on text usage. Some function better with rules or guidelines, so when thinking about “less is more” when it comes to copy, think about framing it in how many bullets are appropriate and how many words per bullet. Example: Copy must follow the 5×5 rule. No more than 5 bullets per slide, and no more than 5 words per bullet.
  3. Trademarks are needed only once per page. But consult your company guidelines on trademark usage.
  4. Clip art is bad. Unless you are presenting about how bad clip art is – don’t use clip art. Ever.

Slides are free. Use as many as you need to help tell your story.

Jamie Webb

curious. creative. professional chameleon.

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