An often overlooked aspect in presentation design is the use of negative/white space. Anyone can admit to sitting through a presentation with slides filled to the brim with text or images.
Think back to the many slides you’ve seen that look more like pages of a book. No rhyme or reason behind the slide design. They are merely used as a repository of information that will be talked over during the presentation.
Slides like that come off as extremely cluttered and unintelligible. But more importantly, they are prime examples of why the proper use of negative space is so important.
What is Negative Space?
Negative space refers to areas that are devoid of any sort of design element.
While, by definition, the word “empty” may sound like it’s a bad thing, there’s purpose behind these spaces. Negative space is what literally defines and organizes the content featured on any given slide. Properly using negative space can greatly improve the visual impact of slides and further elevate the core message.
Creating Balance in Design
As mentioned earlier, a common mistake that many people make is to just fill slides to the brim with content. Just blocks of text or a mishmash of images thrown into a single slide.
Not only do these kinds of slides look visually sloppy, but they can also make things harder for audiences to understand what is being presented. Information overload is a very real concern that presenters should always consider. When there is just too much going on within a single slide, people will be left confused and unsure of what information they should be focusing on.
By applying the use of more negative space, it forces you to rethink and rebalance the content of your slides. When a slide looks too busy or loaded, consider trimming down the copy further or creating a new slide altogether to move information into.
This “less is more” approach gives you more breathing room to balance the content of your slides with its overall design. It will come down to a matter of what you are saying, not how much you have to say.
Guide the Eyes of Your Audience
If you find yourself staring at a crowded slide, remember this: When everything is being spoken loudly, nothing will be heard.
Negative space allows you to partition information and guide audiences to your desired message. There’s a greater sense of importance when content is singled out and given the space it needs to shine. When done right, negative space is a great tool for effectively developing a narrative within your presentation.
Imagine flipping from slide to slide in a quick pace with no speech to guide the presentation. By structuring content using negative space, audiences can identify key information from any given slide.
Negative space helps you establish a visual roadmap that guides audiences across your presentation. When audiences can keep track of what’s being talked about, it’s easier for presenters to effectively get their point across.
Despite being an “overused” term, minimalism remains a very effective design practice. From both design and copy standpoints, crafting a concise and minimalist presentation has greater potential to be memorable than one that seems to say too much.
The use of negative space is synonymous with minimalism because it provides structure and emphasis to the featured content. As naturally visual beings, humans are more likely to appreciate imagery that’s elegant and pleasing to look at.
While it is always tempting to pack slides with as much information as possible, taking a more measured approach is more effective in engaging people’s attention.