PowerPoint and other presentation packages offer all sorts of ways to add visual “flash” to your slides: fades, swipes, flashing text, and other annoyances are all too easy to insert with a few mouse clicks.
Avoid the temptation to dress up your pages with cheesy effects and focus instead on simple design basics:
- Use a sans serif font for body text. Sans serifs like Arial, Helvetica, or Calibri tend to be the easiest to read on screens.
- Use decorative fonts only for slide headers, and then only if they’re easy to read. Decorative fonts –calligraphy, German blackface, futuristic, psychotic handwriting, flowers, art nouveau, etc. – are hard to read and should be reserved only for large headlines at the top of the page. Better yet, stick to a classy serif font like Georgia or Baskerville.
- Put dark text on a light background. Again, this is easiest to read. If you must use a dark background – for instance, if your company uses a standard template with a dark background – make sure your text is quite light (white, cream, light grey, or pastels) and maybe bump the font size up two or three notches.
- Align text left or right. Centered text is harder to read and looks amateurish. Line up all your text to a right-hand or left-hand baseline – it will look better and be easier to follow.
- Avoid clutter. A headline, a few bullet points, maybe an image – anything more than that and you risk losing your audience as they sort it all out.