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Presentation Design No-No’s That You Can Fix

The way presenters design their pitches has evolved. As Microsoft PowerPoint launches new features that boast of contemporary design and high-end technology, users become more aggressive and innovative in creating their slides. Pitches have become more promising, ultimately helping businesses attain their goals.
Despite the progression, some presenters still fail to provide a visually-appealing pitch that can entice their audiences. Ugly typefaces, tacky transitions, and pixelated images continue to surface, making a presentation look horrible, or worse, unprofessional.
Fortunately, with a little imagination and research, bad presentation design choices can be improved. One can still live up to the standards of modern design through good old PowerPoint elements that have seemed to fade away over time. Challenge the world of presentation design and project an appealing PowerPoint by trying out the following design tips.
Improving Three of the Most Common Presentation Design Mistakes

Clip Art: Tweak It

Clip art is dead. In December 2014, Microsoft retired its clip art gallery and gradually added several PowerPoint features such as Shapes, Icons, and Online Pictures. Gone are the days of cartoons in presentations as designers and presenters now prefer custom images when visualizing a point. Apart from communicating a message more clearly, the dawn of vectors and photographs allowed PowerPoint users to create a more personable and contemporary-looking deck.
Many websites offer free and editable stock images, which you can download without signing up. Modify them according to your need and make sure that they suit your presentation’s message. Wrong use of stock photography can show your lack of authenticity and creativity, and that can ruin the overall look of your presentation design.
If you are, however, keener on using objects and illustrations, PowerPoint’s Shapes and Icons are a great way to add more life to your presentation. Choose from a broad range of predesigned elements by clicking “Insert” in PowerPoint’s Home tab, which now has the “Screenshot” option as well.
Improving Three of the Most Common Presentation Design Mistakes

Comic Sans: Imitate It

People dislike Comic Sans so much that a petition was put up to ban it. The website Comic Sans Criminal, however, explained that all fonts have a personality and a purpose and that using Comic Sans is only appropriate when:

  • your audience is under 11 years old;
  • you’re designing a comic; or
  • your audience is dyslexic and has stated that they prefer the typeface.

Considering its purpose, Comic Sans isn’t that bad at all. In fact, a number of educators and designers prefer its “true a” form—or an “a” with a circle and a stick—since it is known as the basic model of the letter.
If you’re looking for a “true a” as well, use Comic Sans alternatives instead. HVD Comic Serif is a close substitute if you’re in need of an easygoing, comical typeface. For corporate presentations, Hattori Hanzo Light Italic is a good pick.
Play around with fonts and typefaces to find one that suits your brand and personal style. Keep in mind that two or three choices are enough. Overdoing it may risk the aesthetic of your slides, making your content hard to read and understand.
Improving Three of the Most Common Presentation Design Mistakes

Bullet Points: Limit Your Use

Bullet points are essential in keeping PowerPoint presentations organized. However, when used inappropriately, they can be detrimental to presentation design and its effectiveness. According to Brainshark, bullet points are ideal when updating a previous discussion or explaining simple points. Apart from allowing your audience to scan your content more easily,  these symbols allow them to concentrate on other parts of your speech.
However, to quote Ray Bradbury, “Too much of anything isn’t good for anyone.” Having too many bullets in your presentation doesn’t only make your content look disorganized but also leads your audience away from your point. To deliver an impactful speech, develop a great script that you can match with bullets and attention-grabbing visuals. Maintain a balance between the two to avoid a cluttered presentation.
You can also use headlines to construct your ideas. Headlines provide a snappy feel that engages and informs your audience. Simplify your points to guarantee the attention of your audience and the success of your pitch.
Good ol’ PowerPoint design elements may not be the rave today, but they can make a comeback in your presentation through creativity and resourcefulness. Go back to the basics of presentation design and allow yourself to innovate. Use alternatives while keeping your message and audience in mind. With this, you’ll be on your way to delivering a one-of-a-kind speech that your audience will remember.


Belknap, Leslie. “Why Bullet Points Kill Presentations.” Ethos3. April 7, 2015.
Crerar, Paula. “PowerPoint Bullet Points: Do We Need Them?” Brainshark. January 24, 2012.
Gabrielle, Bruce. “PowerPoint Clip Art Is Dead. Now What?” Speaking PPT. February 16, 2015.
“6 Alternatives to Comic Sans (With a True ‘A’). Keri-lee Beasley. March 14, 2015.

Unconventional Presentation Design Tips from the Humble Lunch Box

Eating is a favorite pastime for almost everyone. Nothing else can engage the sense of sight, smell and taste quite like food does. Food ads are made to look appetizing simply because we need, and love to eat. Everyone appreciates well-made meals, and ads take full advantage of the strong, motivational desire to eat.

From billboard ads to the home kitchen, food can play a big role in shaping something as simple as our preference to our beliefs.

Feed the Senses

Japanese cuisine brings this idea all the way home, to the humble bento box. There are five sets of rules containing five rules each. Each set details an aspect of food preparation in Japanese cuisine.

The five sets are Colors, Methods, Flavors, Senses, and Viewpoints:

1. Colors

Each dish should have something red, yellow, green, black and white.

2. Methods

Prepare the meal by simmering, steaming, grilling, frying and creating.

3. Flavors

Each part should balance a salty, sour, sweet, bitter or spicy taste.

4. Senses

Appeal to the senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch.

5. Viewpoints

Receive it with gratitude, feel worthy of the dish, accept it, then let it give you nourishment and enlightenment.

These traditional guidelines are the basis of washoku, or Japanese cuisine. But the bento box simplifies these traditional concepts to fit the more modern, convenient times. A presentation functions similarly, taking the old methods and integrating them with the convenience of PowerPoint decks.

Simple, Compact and Organized

An old adage goes, that we are what we eat. A lunchbox is personal, and anything goes inside. If we don’t want to eat broccoli then we won’t put that in our lunch. Pizza stacked in a Tupperware may be filling, but toppings stuck between slices can make for unsightly and messy eating. There is a sense of order and space that must be followed to create an organized, and visually appealing lunch.

So instead of stacking the slices, roll them up. The toppings stay in each slice, leaving room for more food inside the container. Treat each slide like a slice, and your deck like a lunch box. Give the audience a wonderfully packed meal for them to take home.

Prepare a Small Feast

What emotions do you want the colors in each slide to evoke? Luckily, you can glean some important presentation design tips just from enjoying food. Each color has a corresponding psychological effect, so use this to your advantage.

What method will you use to get the message across? Will you make the pitch simmer, and slowly reveal the idea? Or build hype around the idea in an exciting, open flame? What kind of flavor will you impart on the audience?

Will you end a presentation with a spoonful of sugar after a bitter-tasting cure? How will you engage the audience?

Tickle their imagination by making them realize how much they need your product or idea in their lives. What will the audience ultimately get out of your pitch? Change lives with your deck and present them with a new way of seeing things.



Lapointe, Rick. “Now Here’s Some Real Food for Thought…” The Japan Times. June 9, 2002. Accessed October 5, 2015.


Featured Image: “bento 014” by Kelly Polizzi from

Learning from Steve Jobs: Tips for Great Presentation Design

When Steve Jobs first introduced the iPhone at the Macworld Expo last 2007, he presented an idea that later revolutionized the use of mobile phones. Seven years later, the Internet is buzzing with anticipation over the iPhone 6.

One thing we can learn from Jobs is that your million dollar idea is only the first step to success. The next and most crucial step is getting others to listen to you.

A genius idea could fall flat if it hides behind a bland presentation riddled with endless bullet points and line graphs. Luckily, we can take notes from the success of Steve Jobs and the iPhone for tips to improve your presentation design:

Your Slides are Important

Steve Jobs was well-known for his minimalist presentations. Each slide contained only a single image or thought that echoed parts of his speech. He also made use of large white fonts that contrasted against dark gradient backgrounds. This allowed his audience more head space to follow what he was saying.

Remember that visuals are important for retaining new information, but too much could overwhelm your audience. Learn to strike a balance when creating your own presentation design.

Find the middle ground between flashy animations and repetitive bullet points that could lull your audience to sleep. Your presentation design should help the audience retain your amazing idea.

Tell a Well-structured Story

Your presentation design should also follow the structure of the story you’re trying to tell. And every story needs a good beginning, middle, and end. No part can function without the other. Each should complement each other to bring to life an overall good narrative.

The same is true for presenting an idea.

Jobs demonstrated the efficiency of the story technique by identifying specific sections in his presentations.

Take, for example, his keynote at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in 2010. He organized his presentation into the following main segments: updates on the iPad, information about the App Store and the apps available for download, updates about the iPhone, and the then-new iPhone 4.

The Key is in the Delivery

The worst thing you can do is hide behind your note cards or read directly from your slides.A winning deck isn’t a replacement for your presence as a speaker. Make sure to establish your presence with a powerful delivery that will hold the audience’s attentions.

Your audience is just as likely to fall asleep to your deadpan delivery as they would if you presented them with a generic design template.

Jobs’ presentations were effective because he was a charismatic and confident communicator. Practice your delivery long before you’re slated to give your presentation. A confident delivery is bound to result in a positive response.


Every presenter has their own specific style. But it would help boost your chances if you take a tip from tried and tested methods.

Steve Jobs put the efficiency of storytelling to the fore in his own well-received presentations. Similarly, you can tap into the potential of a good narrative in your own pitch. Let your deck tell a story, but don’t fall behind in terms of delivery.

Blow the audience away with an award-winning presentation, from deck to delivery.


Steve Jobs Introduces IPhone 4 at WWDC (live Blog).” CNET. Accessed June 03, 2014.

Image: the very instant of announcement by Blake Patterson from