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25 Important Design Elements for Designers

Every industry has its own set of jargons—even design. While having a so-called “eye for design” can help you go a long way, it’s not enough to cut the mustard. There are still some basic principles to follow and adhere to in order to achieve a certain credibility in the field. Before you can become a master of design, there are fundamental principles that you need to learn first. Design is as much a skill as a raw talent, after all.
You may be a natural artist who simply has a knack for creativity, but sometimes, that’s not enough, especially if the industry you’re trying to permeate is graphic design. There are conventions in this industry that you need to study in order to create useful and valuable artworks. Don’t get this wrong—you can certainly start random projects and find an audience for it afterwards. But if you want to become a prominent figure in the competitive design market, you need to study the game first to be one of the best.

The Importance of Design Elements

Art cannot exist without the pieces that comprise it, whether they be simple or otherwise. What lend a work of art an identity are the different elements that bring it to life. Those same elements set a convention through which a design enthusiast can appreciate or judge the beauty of an art form.
Another reason why the different elements of design are important is that they form a system around which the language of design revolve. Without these, art appreciation cannot be possible. To illustrate, imagine being asked to assess a work of art. If you don’t understand how design elements work, you’d be limited to making vague observations. However, if you’re well-spoken in this department, you’ll be able to express exactly which aspects of the design works or not.
The elements of design are important in so many levels. That’s why every designer and design enthusiast should strive to master them.
25 Important Design Elements for Designers

Resources:

Copperman, Amy. “8 Basic Principles of Design to Help You Create Awesome Graphics.” Adobe Spark. July 27, 2016. spark.adobe.com/blog/2016/07/27/8-basic-design-principles-to-help-you-create-better-graphics
Hortin, Anthony. “The 5 Basic Principles of Design.” Maddison Designs. March 27, 2009. maddisondesigns.com/2009/03/the-5-basic-principles-of-design
Taheri, Maryam. “10 Basic Elements of Design.” Creative Market. May 27, 2016. creativemarket.com/blog/10-basic-elements-of-design
Wong, Yoon Sann. “Graphic Designers: Cheat Sheets That Simplify Design Elements, Print Terms, More.” Design Taxi. September 2, 2016. designtaxi.com/news/388239/Graphic-Designers-Cheat-Sheets-That-Simplify-Design-Elements-Print-Terms-More

5 Ways PowerPoint Presentations Can Improve Business Leads

When someone says the word “marketing,” the initial thoughts that come to people’s minds are sales talking, customer service, advertising, and/or social media and blog posts, or any combination thereof. It may not be wrong, but surely the concept has deeper roots than just getting a “come on” for people to trade their hard-earned cash for a product or a service.
For the better business-minded people out there, the focus of the game has shifted to customer experience, the concept that looks at consumer interactions and how your potential leads form a relationship with your brand. Extending that logic, forking cash over doesn’t terminate the connection; sure, it may be the end of the transaction, but it’s just the beginning of the experience. There’s still the post-sales service (via customer service), trust and loyalty maintenance, etc. It’s kind of an “It’s not about the destination but about the journey” thing.
True enough, the most memorable relationships continue after you receive the customer’s money.
But how do you start getting those people to show even a bit of interest in your company? It’s not like you can do so much after traditional marketing, right? Right?
As it turns out, there’s one avenue you may not have thought of but works because of its uniqueness: PowerPoint. It’s one of those functions that the software wasn’t intended for but still amazingly works given its nature.
You know where this is going: a public speaking arrangement where you can use your deck as a tool for your sales pitch. But what benefits would that bring? Won’t it be just like how you started your whole enterprise, only your audience are executives instead of potential customers?
There are a few more things you can do besides showing off your products and offering crazy sales. Conversations, arguably the best sales pitch ever, become more than just pitches. Check the following infographic to learn all about the advantages you can get from using PowerPoint presentations when it comes to gaining more leads.

Resources:

Barr, Corbett. “The Best Sales Pitch Ever.” Fizzle. November 16, 2016. www.fizzle.co/sparkline/the-best-sales-pitch-ever
Zwilling, Martin. “‘Customer Experience’ Is Today’s Business Benchmark.” Forbes. March 10, 2014. www.forbes.com/sites/martinzwilling/2014/03/10/customer-experience-is-todays-business-benchmark/#50113f125011

Why White Space Looks Good in Presentation Design

Amateur designers tend to overdo their work. They cram every good idea they have into one design, leaving no area untouched. In their determination to not waste any space, they end up creating a noisy composition that buries the most important graphic elements. The result? Clutter, confusion, and chaos.

Fixing a sloppy work is simple in principle, although it’s not exactly easy to execute. As a graphic designer, all you need to do is maximize the use of an element called “white space,” which is a misnomer because it doesn’t necessarily refer to a white space. In fact, it can be any color, texture, or pattern, as long as it’s an unmarked area that makes the crucial points of a composition stand out.

White space is also known as “negative space” because it makes the “positive space” pop by shrinking in the background and remaining there unnoticed. Its general purpose is to provide a breather for the eyes so that viewers can easily scan a page and find what they need. Still, despite the crucial role that this element plays, it’s still overlooked and underrated at times.

Let’s give white space its own deserved spotlight. Let’s look at it not only from an aesthetic angle but also from a practical perspective. What do you say?

The Two Levels of White Space

There are two levels of white space according to density, ratio, proportion, and general purpose: macro and micro.

  • Macro White Space. Obviously, macro white space is larger in volume compared to its counterpart. Plus, it’s easier to notice because it occupies the bigger portion of a given space. Its main purpose is to emphasize the focal points in a composition and give them structure, and its asymmetrical nature allows it to lend any work a more dynamic and candid look.
  • Micro White Space. This refers to the white space that exists naturally between letters, words, lines, grid images, and other smaller graphic elements. Its main purpose is to direct the flow and order of the content to make for a legible and neat composition.

The Advantages of Using White Space

You’d think the advantages of using white space are obvious, but some presentation designers still overlook them. For good measure, go over them here again to fully internalize the importance of this presentation design element.

1. Improves readability and comprehension

The average attention span of a human being is not as long as it used to be, so if you want to attract and keep your viewers’ attention, you need to give them a good reason to stay. One way to do this is by making it easy for them to navigate through your content. Reduce clutter and design a slide in such a way that the viewers can easily find what they’re looking for. Aim for better comprehension and readability. When people have a full grasp of what you’re trying to communicate, they’re more likely to stay and find out what else you have in store for them.

2. Draws the eyes to the most important points

When used properly, white space can minimize distractions and draw the eyes to the presentation’s central points. The human brain tends to put emphasis on design elements surrounded by white space since they essentially cue the audience as to where they should be looking. When you use white space to lead users from one design element to another, you can sell your main points faster and more effectively.

3. Adds a sense of superiority to the design

In the age of digital media, first impressions matter so much more than ever before. To imprint a good brand image on the mind of your audience, you should master the art of simplicity and minimalism. By using white space liberally and masterfully, you can lend finesse and elegance to your PowerPoint deck. Just take Apple and Starbucks for example. These brands glorify the “less is more” principle, and as a result, their products are considered as the paragon of luxury and sophistication.

On the other hand, less effective presentations tend to cram a hodgepodge of things into one tight space. Too many elements clashing with one another tends to cheapen a slide deck’s overall look. Remember, a tidy and uncluttered space looks more impressive than a heavily packed one. Give your content some breathing space and let it speak for itself.

4. Strikes a balance between texts and images

While the lack of white space results to confusion, an excess of it gives off the impression of incompleteness. Be mindful of how you apply white space lest you look incompetent by under- or overusing it. Aim to strike a balance between the different elements in your presentation design. Keep in mind what Mads Soegaard, the editor-in-chief in The Interaction Design Foundation, said, “White space is a great tool to balance design elements and better organize content to improve the visual communication experience…. For that, the white space is the real star of the show, working between the words and the pictures. It keeps each page from looking busy.”

So, there you have it—everything you need to know to care about white space. Now equipped with such knowledge, you shouldn’t look at this design element as “empty space” anymore. Your improved understanding of the role of white space in presentation design should allow you to put it into better use. Remember, the things you leave out are just as important as those you use.

Resources:

Cao, Jerry, et al. “Why White Space is Crucial to UX Design.” Fast Company Design. May 28, 2015. www.fastcodesign.com/3046656/why-white-space-is-crucial-to-ux-design

Lana, Michelle. “Why Whitespace Is So Important in Web Design.” Segue Technologies. September 10, 2015. www.seguetech.com/whitespace-web-design

Soegaard, Mads. “The Power of White Space.” Interaction Design Foundation. n.d. www.interaction-design.org/literature/article/the-power-of-white-space

Turnbull, Connor. “Using White Space (or Negative Space) in Your Designs.” Envato Tuts Plus. July 19, 2011. webdesign.tutsplus.com/articles/using-white-space-or-negative-space-in-your-designs–webdesign-3401

“White Space in Graphic Design, and Why It’s Important.” Printwand. n.d. www.printwand.com/blog/white-space-in-graphic-design-and-why-its-important

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation

Back in the day, when a global connectivity system, computers, and all these technological advancements were decades, even centuries, away from being invented, no one had the trouble of choosing what font to use for their works. Everything that people had—some without much choice—were their hands and what amounted to pens. Getting something on paper was all manual labor, and how readable manuscripts were depended not only on the conventions and foundations of the language but also on how legible their penmanship was.
Now, though, almost everything has become digital: messages, word-processing programs, presentations, and the like. Fitting, then, that with technology came another host of problems. Technology isn’t perfect; it gave people the power of choice from an infinite number of many things: colors, fonts, layouts, images, etc.
Since the birth of PowerPoint, presenting has never been the same. Now, there are more stuff to consider when making your deck. From background to theme and, yes, fonts. How do presentation designers decide what to use? More importantly, how do you choose the perfect typeface for your slides? By answering three main questions:

1. What is my message?

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation: What is my message?
Along with that is a follow-up question: “How do I say my message?” Your topic and how you present your data are factors that affect your decision with which font to use.
If your topic is serious, then it begets an authoritative font, like the thick Rockwell or the aptly named Impact. But, if you like a quirky and light-hearted font for your topic, then something along the lines of Tahoma, Segoe, and Verdana can do the trick. When you know how font personalities affect readers’ perception, then you can easily narrow down your choices and find the one that’s apt with the gravity of your message.
The worst you could do is mismatch your fonts with your theme. Have you even seen a public service announcement that used Symbol (which, for those who are unfamiliar, are letters from the Greek alphabet)? And please, no matter what, don’t use Wingdings. Your font must be appropriate. You don’t want another case of Comic Sans, do you?

2. Is it readable?

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation: Is it readable?
You could answer that question in two approaches: font type and font size.
In general, there are four font classifications: serif, sans serif, script, and decorative. Of the four, the first two are most widely used. Fonts belonging to the serif family are great for print since, even with small sizes, their serifs provide space and fluidity for continuous reading. Sans serif are best used when large and projected onscreen because they are clear in the sense that when serif fonts are projected, the thinner strokes of the letters tend to be muddled or appear broken-up.
As for a specific font size, a good rule to live by is Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 rule: 10 slides in 20 minutes with 30 font size. Maximum readability even for the people at the back is guaranteed. If anything, you could even go bigger, especially when you have a single word on your slide. It’s easily read, impactful, and memorable.

3. How many should I choose?

Choosing the Right Fonts for Your Presentation: How many should I choose?
This goes over into consistency territory.
You’re already having trouble deciding one font; what more two or three? Generally, the usual advice is to have two complimenting fonts, a pair that doesn’t take away or fight for attention with each other. Typically, the best pair is a serif-sans serif combination, like the classic Times New Roman and Arial. But if you know font personalities, for the right topic and with the right approach, even a sans serif-sans serif combo will work in unexpected ways, like Cubano and Nunito.
Of course, you don’t need to use different fonts. A major point of using combos is to highlight certain parts of your content, and stylizing a keyword or an important point differently draws attention to it.
Choosing the perfect font to use on your slides is seldom easy. You could fall back to the old mindset of “As long as it’s readable,” but almost everyone does that; thus, you get the ubiquity of certain “standard” fonts that are now recommended to be avoided.
Experiment with your presentation. Answer the three questions above, and you’ve got a narrow pool to choose from. When you get the harmony you’re looking for, you can then wow your audience with your talk.
If you want to know more, watch this short video from our PowerPoint design agency, SlideGenius.

Resources:

Agarwal, Amit. “What Are the Best Fonts for Presentation Slides?” Digital Inspiration. July 17, 2012. www.labnol.org/software/tutorials/advice-select-best-fonts-for-powerpoint-presentation-slides/3355
Cass, Jacob. “15 Stunning Font Combinations for Your Inspiration.” JUST™ Creative. May 5, 2015. www.justcreative.com/2015/05/05/15-stunning-font-combinations-for-your-inspiration
Cournoyer, Brendan. “What Are the Best Fonts for Killer Presentations?” Brainshark. March 29, 2012. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2012/March/best-powerpoint-fonts-for-killer-presentations
Erickson, Christine. “Not My Type: Why the Web Hates Comic Sans.” Mashable. October 3, 2012. www.mashable.com/2012/10/03/comic-sans-history/#6J_bWV037Eqw
Gabrielle, Bruce. “The #1 Best Advice for Choosing PowerPoint Fonts.” Speaking PowerPoint. December 5, 2011. www.speakingppt.com/2011/12/05/best-font
Haley, Allan. “Type Classifications.” Fonts.com. n.d. www.fonts.com/content/learning/fontology/level-1/type-anatomy/type-classifications
Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” GuyKawasaki.com. December 30, 2005. www.guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule

Understanding Color Contrast in Graphic Design

Whether you’re proficient in design or not, you ought to possess at least a single grain of knowledge about color contrast. It’s a principle that can be seen everywhere, although it’s mostly prominent in graphic design and other art-related fields. Color contrast refers to the stark visual differences that make an object distinct from others. The polarity of black and white, two colors known to be the ultimate opposites, is a classic example that illustrates this design principle. As a designer, however, you need to learn to work on a more diverse palette that transcends these two so that you can explore other ways of achieving color contrast.

The Importance of Contrast in Design

A simple way to weed out amateur designers from the cream of the crop is by judging the way they apply contrast in their work. Contrast—whether it be of shapes, typography, or color—is the foundation of every artistic masterpiece. You have to be conscious of how you use it since it can be the single most important element that can make or break your design. Color is one of the first things that register in our subconscious when we look at a work of art. A design piece that fails to employ color contrast effectively can result to a jarring spectacle that can strain the audience’s eyes and cause them to withdraw their gaze. As all designers can agree on, there’s no thought worse than knowing that nobody wants to see the fruits of their labor.

Color contrast is important for three reasons:
  • It attracts the eye. People are subconsciously drawn to artworks that use contrast seamlessly. This principle is attractive to the eye because it creates visual interest. When done correctly, color contrast shouldn’t be noticed. When done the wrong way, however, it glares like a flagrant sin.
  • It reinforces an idea. Colors carry a certain weight, so when they’re used effectively, they can impact viewers manifold. Use color contrast to strengthen your message.
  • It shows hierarchy. Color contrast can create a focal point and establish a hierarchy of importance in your design. With this design principle, you can draw people to a certain area of a page without telling them outright that it’s what they should focus on.

Make sure to strike a balance when applying color contrast. Using this design principle excessively is just as bad as not applying it at all.

Johannes Itten’s Seven Kinds of Color Contrast

Mastering color contrast is just like mastering any other skill—it takes practice. There are no hard and fast rules, no shortcuts, and no magic formulas that you can count on. Cultivate your eye for design and work hard on finetuning it. To better understand color contrast, you need to learn its different aspects and forms. Johannes Itten, a Swiss expressionist painter, was among the first to make a theory about the possible types of color contrast. Here are seven of them:

1. Contrast of hue

Hue refers to the name of a specific color that is typically found on the color wheel. You don’t have to apply hues in their purest forms since they might clash. You can lighten or darken them to resemble real-life contexts. When used right, the contrast of hue can create a vivid effect on your design.

2. Contrast of saturation

Saturation refers to the purity of a color; that’s why this type of contrast is also known as the contrast of pure colors. A color in its brightest form is 100% saturated, but by diluting its intensity, you can abate its impact to create a better effect. You can desaturate a color by mixing it with white (tints), black (shades), or gray (tones). When used well, the contrast of saturation can be a unifying factor that leads to a harmonious composition in your design.

3. Contrast of temperature

Mixing warm (red, orange, yellow) and cold (blue, violet, green) colors in a design is also another form of color contrast. This type of contrast can create a dramatic effect, especially when one side is dominant and the other is subservient.

4. Contrast of simultaneity

This refers to the effect colors have on each other. It is derived from the law of complementary colors, in which colors cancel each other out to produce an achromatic light mixture (white, gray, or black). This means that if a certain color is absent, the eye will produce its complement.

5. Contrast of extension

Also known as the contrast of proportion, the contrast of extension refers to the effect of amplifying the impact of a certain color by placing it in a dominant spot. This type of contrast underlines the fact that colors can appear weaker or more dominant depending on their arrangement or placement in a design. When using this, keep in mind that the dominant color shouldn’t overpower the surrounding hues but rather unify them.

6. Contrast of dark and light colors

This type of contrast refers to the brightness of colors—how light or dark they are. Playing light and dark hues off of each other will make your design more powerful and dramatic. Using a high light/dark contrast will allow you to determine which parts of your design are the most important.

7. Contrast of complements

This refers to color pairings that tend to intensify both colors. As you know, complementary colors occupy opposite positions in the color wheel. When adjacent, they intensify each other’s power, but when mixed, they nullify each other by producing a grayish black hue. Exploring color contrast can take your design to the next level. Use it to its optimum and watch your masterpieces soar into new heights, making you worthy of the title, “designer.”

Resources:

Aaberg, Kasper. “Color Contrast: All About the Difference.” Love of Graphics. n.d. www.loveofgraphics.com/graphicdesign/color/colorcontrast Farley, Jennifer. “Principles of Design: Contrast.” SitePoint. December 3, 2009. www.sitepoint.com/principles-of-design-contrast

Jones, Henry. “The Principle of Contrast in Web Design.” Web Design Ledger. February 3, 2010. webdesignledger.com/the-principle-of-contrast-in-web-design

Kliever, Jane. “Designing with Contrast: 20 Tips from a Designer (with Case Studies).” Canva. September 22, 2015. designschool.canva.com/blog/contrasting-colors

O’Nolan, John. “Fully Understanding Contrast in Design.” Web Designer Depot. September 17, 2010. www.webdesignerdepot.com/2010/09/fully-understanding-contrast-in-design

Roach, Nick. “Four Quick Tips for Improving Color Harmony in Your Theme Customizations.” Elegant Themes. August 26, 2013. www.elegantthemes.com/blog/resources/four-quick-tips-for-improving-color-harmony-in-your-theme-customizations

“It’s Not Just Black and White: Understanding the Importance of Contrast in Graphic Design.” Pluralsight. March 9, 2014. www.pluralsight.com/blog/creative-professional/just-black-white-using-contrast-get-attention-graphic-designs

Corrigan, Dennis & Hoffer, Peter. “The Seven Color Contrasts: Based on the Work of Johannes Itten.” Marywood. n.d. www.marywood.edu/dotAsset/45ee9b19-5c3a-47bc-974b-47436488e792.pdf

Proofreading: How Important Is It for PowerPoint Presentations?

When reading, isn’t it bothersome to see a typographical error that distracts you from peacefully enjoying the piece? There’s the nagging feeling that “teh” should be “the,” that “your” should be “you’re,” or that “should of” is completely wrong. If tenses are all over the place or the subject-verb agreement isn’t correct, then that impression of the mistake gives way to disappointment and silent rage. Typos are distracting, to say the least.

To curb typographical errors, the responsibility of proofreading content falls squarely upon your shoulders. Be it a blog post, a book waiting to be published, or even a social media update, any piece of content should be proofread before publishing and publicizing, lest you be subject to the anger-inciting asterisk.

“But wait,” you may probably say. “What’s the difference between proofreading and editing? And there’s revision, too.” It’s time to contrast.

Revising vs. Editing vs. Proofreading

Revising entails the “re-visioning” of the whole piece; you gauge and, if ever, change how you approach your topic. Some of the main questions you need to consider when revising are, “Did the last draft fail to answer important questions, and does the recent one succeed?” and “Is the argument clear and understandable?”

Editing is done so that the whole piece is coherent and unified. You check the flow from one sentence to another and the logic from one paragraph to the next to discern whether the transitions are clear and smooth. If not, then rearrange paragraphs, rewrite sentences, and make the according edits.

Proofreading, the lightest of the three, is where you look for misspelled words, misused punctuation marks, and improper verb tenses and subject-verb agreements to fix them. This is the last step you should do before posting your content.

You must also check your PowerPoint presentation to ensure it doesn’t have any errors (and if it does, edit). Other than showing that you took the time to perfect your slide, it also implies the following notions:

Clarity

Apart from the fact that typographical errors and grammatical mistakes are distracting (diverting your reader’s attention to the typo itself), they take focus away from the message of your presentation in PowerPoint. There are more possible misinterpretations of a line missing a word, a missing letter crucial to the intended definition of the word (think “pubic” instead of “public”), or inconsistent tenses.

While it may be said that the human mind internally corrects the mistake, it’s still an unnecessary mental activity for the reader. Instead of focusing on and absorbing your piece, they’re looking out for mistakes just to satisfy the feeling that what they’re reading is clean and error-free—if they even decide to keep reading your piece.

Instead of muddling and muffling your piece’s flow of information because of errors, make sure your copy is clean and polished. Take the time to think about how your audience reads your article. When you see a typo, correct it right away.

Professionalism

Often, if you read content rife with grammatical and typographical errors, your judgment on it is, “This must have been done by an amateur.” Contrast that with well-proofread copies, and the stigma of unprofessionalism is gone.

Careless mistakes are always a show of unprofessionalism. It can imply that you weren’t fully prepared with your slides or that you crammed your PowerPoint presentation. It can mean that you never bothered to check for mistakes after your first draft or that you didn’t organize everything effectively and efficiently.

This is why there is a practice in any printed publication to correct any factual or typographical errors that made it past layers of editing, albeit in the next edition. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold as true for digital copies even though editing them is easier to do. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.

Consistency

Which do you go for: “toward” or “towards”? “Color” or “colour”? If you’re not careful, you might end up using two kinds of English in a single piece.

Having a consistent voice and tone is a must, if not for regional differences then for establishing yourself as a proficient English speaker and communicator. If you use American English, then keep it that way throughout your piece; if you’re going for British, then make your spelling and idiom use consistent. It may sound traditionalist, but there are critics of this kind of inconsistency. Plus, it helps define your target market without alienating the other party.

All in all, keep your content error-free. It’s a secret to crafting great copies. Even in school, you were trained to submit perfect essays and reports since having typos usually meant markdowns. It’s the same when it comes to business, only with far-reaching consequences. When you’re in front of a crowd whose decision could shape your life and/or career, you wouldn’t want to risk making the kind of mistake.

Writers live by a general rule, and it’s a good exercise of their English and organizational skills. “Write in white heat; revise/edit in cold blood.” Any word work you do falls under this rule. There are no exceptions. Not even your slides. The task of proofreading falls upon you, the content creator, and definitely not a PowerPoint presentation designer.

Resources:

Scocco, Daniel. “The Impotence of Proofreading.” Daily Writing Tips. n.d. www.dailywritingtips.com/the-impotence-of-proofreading

Wasielewski, Jarek. “The Importance of Proofreading Your Webinar.” Webinar Tips Blog. September 25, 2015. blog.clickmeeting.com/the-importance-of-proofreading-your-webinar

Wright, Catharine. “Revision, Editing and Proofreading: What’s the Difference?” Peer Writing Tutors & FYS Mentors. February 14, 2011. sites.middlebury.edu/peer_writing_tutors/2011/02/14/revision-editing-and-proofreading-what%E2%80%99s-the-difference

Wroblewski, M.T. “The Importance of Proofreading in the Workforce.” Chron. n.d. smallbusiness.chron.com/importance-proofreading-workforce-36110.html

Zimmer, John. “Five Typographical Errors to Avoid on Your Slides.” Manner of Speaking. November 6, 2010. www.mannerofspeaking.org/2010/11/06/five-typographical-errors-to-avoid-on-your-slides

“How Proofreading Services Can Make Your Next Presentation a Success.” Re:word. n.d. www.reword.ca/how-proofreading-services-can-make-your-next-presentation-a-success

Working with an Awful-Looking PowerPoint Template

Corporate PowerPoint templates are notorious for their impracticality and ineffectiveness. This is because they’re usually created by people with limited knowledge or experience in design. If you are guilty of this sin, then you should hire a slide design professional who can amp up your template’s look and feel. The aesthetics of your presentation can reflect the amount of dedication you put in it, so make sure you create a template that is engaging and attractive.
The general goals of a presentation are to communicate a message, make a point, and sell an idea. A bad template can undermine these goals and inhibit you from delivering an effective presentation. Here are some of the most common components of an awful-looking presentation template, alongside some tips on how to rectify them.

6 Elements of a Bad PowerPoint Template and How to Fix Them

What do bad presentation templates have in common? They all lack a unifying idea that marries content and design. Awful-looking presentations are ambiguous, and from this major flaw springs others. Although the following elements seem inconsequential, they can still leave a great impact on your template’s final look, usability, and effectiveness.
PowerPoint Template Mistakes: Inadequate Features

1. Inadequate features

A good presentation template should be flexible enough to meet the company’s needs. Otherwise, it will be of no use. Include the fundamental features in your template, but don’t stop there. Make sure you include not only an opening and ending slide but also transition slides, master slides, and other standard slides that can enhance your message. Apart from this, you should also provide a guidebook that will instruct and direct the presenters as to the proper uses of the template. Provide demonstration videos and actual presentation samples if necessary.

2. Lack of visual elements

One of the worst things you can do to a presentation template is to deprive it of an emotional element. Templates that are riddled with unnecessary bullets and large walls of text do nothing but insult the audience’s time and attention. Don’t encourage presenters to bombard their presentations with lengthy passages. Set presentation guidelines that limit ideas to one per slide. To add an emotional trigger, encourage the use of visual tools like graphics and videos. Let the presenters bring their ideas to life through emotive and photographic elements.
PowerPoint Template Mistakes: Poor Color Contrast

3. Weak color palette with poor contrast

Many things can go wrong with your chosen palette. For instance, you might choose a color theme that may not reflect your brand. The colors may not be appropriate to the image you want to project and the message you want to communicate. Another thing that may go awry is the color contrasting of the fonts and backgrounds. As you know, weak contrast results to poor readability, which will render your text invisible, and thus, worthless. To avoid this problem, always calculate the effect of a certain font color on the background. Finally, be careful about the inclusion of weak and/or daring colors in your theme. Weak colors can weaken your design, and daring colors can disorient your audience.

4. Unreadable typography

Typography is one of the most important elements of a presentation since it can set the stage for the content. There are two important aspects of typography: size and style. You need to get these two right to achieve an effective presentation. Make sure the standard font size you set is not lower than 44 points. This size is large enough to command attention but not too large that it looks ludicrous. You also need to consider the font style. Traditional serif fonts look formal and professional while sans serif fonts are more modern and clean-looking. Use what’s appropriate for your presentation.
When you use custom fonts, make sure they’re installed in external computers. The thing about custom fonts is that they can mess up the layout of your slides if the computer you’re using doesn’t support them. Embed the true type fonts into the presentation to avoid this fiasco.
PowerPoint Template Mistakes: Use of Clip Art

5. Cheesy effects

Perhaps the biggest PowerPoint nightmares are the cheesy effects, which include transitions, sound effects, and animations. It’s understandable if you want to spice up your template, but find better ways to do that other than adding inappropriate effects to your presentation. However, if you feel like you need to use the said effects because they offer a functional purpose, make sure to use them sparingly. Instead of the default sound effects from the PowerPoint library, embed background music from external resources. As for animations and transitions, make sure they add value to your content. Use only what’s absolutely crucial for the presentation.

6. Use of clipart and stock photos

Visual elements are generally good, but there are certain design taboos that you should avoid. We’re talking about clipart and clichéd stock photos. No matter how hard you try, you won’t find a reason compelling enough to justify the use of clipart in your deck. Nothing screams “lame” louder than mediocre symbols in a modern corporate presentation. The same thing goes for stock images. There are many staged and cringeworthy photos that will only lessen the value of your template if you’re careless enough to use them. If you’re going to use photos, go for genuine-looking ones that can trigger emotional reactions from the audience.
If you address these bad design habits that plague many PowerPoint presentations today, you will save your company major headaches. Fix these problems and watch as your presentation templates reach a different level of beauty, usability, and effectiveness.

Resources:

Chibana, Nayomi. “Color Theory for Presentations: How to Choose the Perfect Colors for Your Designs.” Visme. December 28, 2015. blog.visme.co/how-to-choose-a-color-scheme
Godin, Seth. “Really Bad PowerPoint.” Type Pad. January 29, 2007. sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2007/01/really_bad_powe.html
Hristov, Boris. “Reality Check: Is Your Company’s PowerPoint Template Bad?” Medium. January 19, 2016. medium.com/@borishristov/reality-check-is-your-company-powerpoint-template-bad-bf6ff82780ef#.4kkk8wijb
Mancini, Sunday. “4 Common PowerPoint Template Mistakes.” Ethos 3. May 26, 2016. www.ethos3.com/2016/05/4-common-powerpoint-template-mistakes
Panzironi, Michelle. “7 PowerPoint Mistakes That Make You Look Old.” Forbes. January 16, 2016. www.forbes.com/sites/propointgraphics/2016/01/16/7-powerpoint-mistakes-that-make-you-look-hella-old/#41da1a5234e7
“10 Tips for Designing Presentations That Don’t Suck: Part 1.” Work Front. February 2, 2017. resources.workfront.com/project-management-blog/10-tips-for-designing-presentations-that-dont-suck-part-1
“10 Ways to Spot a Lame Corporate PowerPoint Template.” PowerPoint Ninja. n.d. www.powerpointninja.com/templates/10-ways-to-spot-a-lame-corporate-powerpoint-template
“Choosing the Right Fonts for Your PowerPoint Presentation.” Documents with Precision. March 10, 2016. www.documentswithprecision.com/choosing-right-fonts-powerpoint-presentation

3 Ways Animation Can Make or Break Your Presentation

Ever since the birth of Microsoft PowerPoint, presentations have taken a turn for the better: user-friendly interface, easy-to-use buttons, and simple settings to name a few, rendering the whole task of creating presentations simpler and less time-consuming. Best of all is how the software gives you extras and bonuses to liven up to your slides with a few clicks and adjustments.
Like the other elements of a visual aid, and especially with PowerPoint, animations can mean the difference between bland slides and zesty ones. Proper use of transitions can arrest attention and provide suspense. Effects can highlight and emphasize points. Motion paths in action can guide viewers’ eyes to where they should be looking next. There are many upsides to using animations.
However, as with any upside, there are bound to be repercussions—two sides of the same coin, if you will. In this case, there are cons to using animation, ones that have a lasting impact even after your talk.
Animations make or break your PowerPoint. They can be the wowing element or the disappointment that makes your audience members shake their heads. Before you pepper your slides with too many special effects, ask yourself the three following questions:

PowePoint Presentation Animation: Important or Whimsical

Important or Whimsical

Do you have a point to emphasize or a concept you wish to illustrate beyond just showing an image? Or do you want your text to sparkle or your object zoom in and out? Perhaps you want a “breaking glass” effect every time you go to the next slide?
If you answered affirmatively on the first question, then you know how to use animation to your advantage. Using it when and because it’s necessary is the first step to acknowledging the fact that it’s more than just for dramatic flair. When employed correctly, it makes certain points stand out among the rest of your content.
If you’re of the last two questions, though, then it’s time to rethink how you approach animation. Any excess for no reason is detrimental not just to your slide but also to your whole presentation. You risk looking amateurish when you try to retain your audience’s attention with special effects instead of wowing them with your message, content, and/or design.

PowePoint Presentation Animation: Arrest or Divert Attention

Arrest or Divert Attention

New PowerPoint users tend to be excessive on the animations. But just because they think it’s great doesn’t mean their audiences will do too. The worst-case scenario is that you turn off your viewers with the sheer number of animations and stop listening.
This point is very much aligned with the one above, only this one tends to encompass a more focused area: does it draw and retain attention on the objects that need to be emphasized? If yes, then the animation served its function. If it doesn’t, then consider changing the animation settings or, as is often recommended, simply avoid it.
In relation to animations on your presentations, the speaker, to whom the audience should pay attention, bears the greater weight when the special effects work or not. Your presentation is not a crutch, so if it draws away the audience’s attention from you, then your talk is compromised. The message is not effectively communicated. They’re reading—or reeling or wondering why you used that transition or fade effect—when they should be listening. In that short period, their attention drifted; their focus changed. The best way to avoid that is simplifying the prevailing thought of your animation use.

PowePoint Presentation Animation: Enhancement or Distraction

Enhancement or Distraction

Overall, the main question you want to answer before putting animations on your slides is, “Will my animations enhance the audience’s experience or distract them from the main point?” If every element you have becomes a waiting game for you and your audience, then your slides, if not your whole visual aid, take away from the whole experience—and possibly diminish it. They can’t concentrate on your message, and they may feel they just wasted their time.
On the other hand, if you used animations smartly and properly, carefully planning what effects to put on major points and objects and properly executing the appropriate animation, then your audience will more likely remember your talk because it’s memorable. It informed them and sparked their genuine interest.
All in all, PowerPoint animations are powerful tools; like any other, depending on the speaker (or the presentation design agency), it can be used in a good way or a bad way. If the animations work well in conjunction with the other elements of your slides—the perfect harmonization of your content, design, effects, and skills as a speaker—then you’ve got on your hands a powerful visual aid. You educate people more efficiently and more effectively. And that’s one of the best goals a public speaker could have.

Resources:

Cournoyer, Brendan. “PowerPoint Animation Tips: Dos and Don’ts for Business Presentations.” Brainshark. March 7, 2012. www.brainshark.com/ideas-blog/2012/March/powerpoint-animation-tips-for-business-presentations
Newbold, Curtis. “Top 12 Most Annoying PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes.” The Visual Communication Guy. September 24, 2013. www.thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2013/09/24/top-12-most-annoying-powerpoint-presentation-mistakes
Noar, Adam. “10 Essential PowerPoint Hacks for More Exciting Presentations.” PresentationPanda.com. July 4, 2016. www.presentationpanda.com/blog/essential-powerpoint-hacks
Russell, Wendy. “PowerPoint Presentations – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” ThoughtCo. February 18, 2016. www.thoughtco.com/powerpoint-presentations-good-and-bad-2767094
Sartain, JD. “PowerPoint Animation Tips: Don’t Be That Person Whose Slides Are Deathly Boring.” PCWorld. February 10, 2015. www.pcworld.com/article/2859249/powerpoint-animation-tips-dont-be-that-person-whose-slides-are-deathly-boring.html
Vanderlee, Carly. “The Seven Deadly Sins of PowerPoint.” Bridgeable. August 20, 2014. www.bridgeable.com/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-powerpoint
“Animation–Help or Entertainment?” Training Zone. August 23, 2001. www.trainingzone.co.uk/develop/talent/animation-help-or-entertainment

Top Problems Presenters Face (And How to Avoid them)

“To err is human,” the adage goes. While not completely skipping the latter half, let’s accept the fact that we, as humans, make mistakes. It’s completely natural, albeit embarrassing—especially when in public. The moral of the story is that you have to make sure it doesn’t happen, right?

There are lessons taught the easy way: anticipate the blunder and avoid doing it. Then there are those only learned the hard way, the ones you must experience first before you can say, “That shouldn’t happen again.”

Barring advice from more experienced speakers and presenters, presentation mistakes can either be of those. The rub, though, is that there are many things that could possibly go wrong that only those with experience can fully prepare for everything.

Here are the most common problems—and how you avoid them—that amateur and professional presenters alike may still experience.

Presenter Problems: Slide Issues

Slide Issues

There is a myriad of presentation design tips out there, so let’s cover only the basic/common ones.

Color contrast.  Keep your choice of colors contrasting: dark text on light background or light text on dark background. If it makes your text easily readable, then that pair—or trio if you have three colors—has great harmony.

Wall of text. A reading spree will bore your audience. Instead, a few simple, powerful words is enough to drive the point home and make an impact. If not words, a meaningful image will do the trick; poignant, nostalgic, rousing, etc., the more emotions the picture solicits, the better. The clincher? Either of those on a single slide for maximum impact.

Too many slides. Drag your presentation on and on, and you’ll bore your audience. Attention is a fragile thing. A good guideline to follow is Guy Kawasaki’s 10/20/30 Rule: 10 slides in 20 minutes with a 30-point font. That way, you’ll be able to punch in more points with fewer slides.

Technical Issues

If you’re not tech-savvy, then the following technical problems—or technological—will be the most complicated ones you’ll encounter.

Connecting to the projector. There are two areas for this blunder: Mac and Windows. First with the latter, most PCs and laptops that aren’t made by Apple have dedicated VGA ports, so you’re covered. There will still be occasional problems, like screens not displaying correctly—or at all—or distorted resolutions, but those are easily fixed with a little tinkering on the Display settings. If you’re rocking a MacBook, though, then chances are you’ll find yourself scrambling to find the extensions and adapters necessary to connect. So…

Presenter Problems: Technical Issues

Not bringing your own cablesIt would be prudent to carry your own gadgets to the venue: VGA adapters, additional USB port extensions, etc. Speakers will find bringing their own stuff is better when they learn on the day itself that the place isn’t fully equipped. Considering that Apple’s ports are, if anything, unique to everything but to those of the same brand, you can’t reasonably and practically expect every venue to have complete equipment. Of course, Windows users will find the practice time-conserving too. Bottom line: just to be safe, bring your own cables.

Videos not playingIf you plan to use videos during your speech, then you need lots of preparation before going onstage. If you’re using YouTube externally (switching from slideshow to Internet browser), secure a good Internet connection and preload the page; if you’re showing short scenes from a long clip, skip ahead to the relevant parts.

Linking is a different game though: You’re basically putting on your slide a “shortcut” button to a video in a specific file path. If you’re not using your own computer, then you need to transfer both presentation and video files and relink to make sure that the “shortcut” has the correct file path.

Freezing or crashingSometimes, it seems like devices have minds of their own, and speakers are forced to encounter a hurdle they can’t control—but can handle gracefully. In cases of computer meltdowns—a sudden hiccup may be tolerable, but a blue screen of death is hard to recover from—losing your cool is a no-no. Don’t panic. Instead, you can:

  • For a system hiccup, tell a few jokes, maybe something about technology, while waiting for it to resolve itself (heighten the suspense and kill the tension);
  • For a sudden crash, since you know it’s going to take some time, tell a story while the computer reboots; or
  • For a blue screen of death, well, nothing much to do about it but to restart the computer, tell stories and/or jokes (see the pattern now?), and just pick up where you left off.

The bottom line here is not to panic and/or just leave. Sure, it’s embarrassing, but handling the whole situation with dignity, and a bit of humor, will overshadow that little blunder.

The Importance of Proper Preparation for a Presenter

The talk itself notwithstanding, those are some of the most common problems presenters face before and during a public speech. But perhaps there’s a more common problem that is easily corrected but overlooked most of the time: lack of proper preparation. Most people don’t realize that this is the biggest enemy before anyone who undertakes an endeavor. It can manifest itself in many forms, including everything above. It’s also what separates amateurs from professionals.

Does that mean that professionals who make mistakes are amateurish? No, of course not. There are circumstances without a person’s reach, and those are the ones you must be careful with. Everything else, you learn to avoid with the right mentality, attitude, and dignity.

Resources:

Duarte, Nancy. “Five Presentation Mistakes Everyone Makes.” Harvard Business Review. December 12, 2012. www.hbr.org/2012/12/avoid-these-five-mistakes-in-y

Ezekiel, Rebecca. “10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” Presentation Prep. n.d. www.presentationprep.com/10-most-common-presentation-mistakes

Harvey, Jim. “5 Most Common Tech Problems for Presenters… and How to Avoid Them.” Presentation Guru. August 2, 2016. www.presentation-guru.com/the-5-most-common-technical-problems-for-presenters-and-how-to-avoid-them

Kawasaki, Guy. “The 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint.” GuyKawasaki.com. December 30, 2005. www.guykawasaki.com/the_102030_rule

Marr, Bernard. “The Deadliest Presentation Mistakes Anyone Can Avoid.” LinkedIn Pulse. October 30, 2014. www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141030071401-64875646-the-deadliest-presentation-mistakes-anyone-can-avoid?trk=prof-post&trk=prof-post

Newbold, Curtis. “Top 12 Most Annoying PowerPoint Presentation Mistakes.” The Visual Communication Guy. September 24, 2013. thevisualcommunicationguy.com/2013/09/24/top-12-most-annoying-powerpoint-presentation-mistakes

Olakunori, Giovanni. “30 Common Presentation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them.” Larnedu. August 27, 2014. www.larnedu.com/2014/08/27/30-common-presentation-mistakes-avoid

Russell, Wendy. “The 10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes.” About, Inc. n.d. presentationsoft.about.com/od/presentationmistakes/tp/080722_presentation_mistakes.htm

“10 Common Presentation Mistakes.” Mind Tools. n.d. www.mindtools.com/pages/article/presentation-mistakes.htm

Public Speaking Fear: Getting Rid of It in a Jiffy

Let’s face it: public speaking is frightening. Even the best speakers experience jitters before they go onstage. They just hide it really, really well—or they’re so used to stage fright that it’s no longer an issue after their warmup exercises.

Audience members pick up on signs of discomfort when you as a speaker have a hard time onstage: excessive sweating, stuttering, shortness of breath, etc. When they do, you become more conscious about what you’re doing, and the anxiety starts to build up. Does that mean you’re not ready? Possibly.

There’s no denying that some people, to no fault of their own, have a hard time dealing with high-stress situations—and you can bet that giving a speech in front of a crowd is stressful. Imagine the scenario: You’re minutes away from being called onstage. Your presentation is ready, perhaps designed by a PowerPoint design agency. The lights focus on your spot. But backstage, butterflies are abuzz in your stomach; your knees are shaking, and your palms are sweaty. You feel a bit lightheaded. Dizzy even.

These are uncontrollable responses to nervousness. While completely natural, especially in the context of public speaking, they’re still something that faze lots of people—80 percent of the US population, in fact. However, there are people easily debilitated by the mere thought of speaking in public. Those who suffer from a specific social anxiety disorder, glossophobia, feel nauseous and are prone to having panic attacks, which is why they try to stay away from doing it as much as possible.

For those who need to speak in public, though, how do you deal with stage fright? The ways to do it vary from person to person since each individual handles stress differently. Check this infographic to learn a few tricks to calm down and nail that speech.

Resources:

Hagen-Rochester, Susan. “Got Public Speaking Jitters? Experts Say Embrace the Fear.” Futurity. April 8, 2013. www.futurity.org/got-public-speaking-jitters-experts-say-embrace-the-fear

McClafferty, Alex. “12 ‘Fear of Public Speaking’ Symptoms and How to Beat Them.” Forbes. January 12, 2015. www.forbes.com/sites/alexmcclafferty/2015/01/12/fear-of-public-speaking/#b4fe7fd37a0c

Morgan, Nick. “Why We Fear Public Speaking and How to Overcome It.” Forbes. March 30, 2011. www.forbes.com/sites/nickmorgan/2011/03/30/why-we-fear-public-speaking-and-how-to-overcome-it/#4848c54fea43

Jamieson, Jeremy P., Matthew K. Nock, and Wendy Berry Mendes. “Changing the Conceptualization of Stress in Social Anxiety Disorder: Affective and Physiological Consequences.” Clinical Psychological Science. 2013. journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/2167702613482119