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Visual Simplicity is Captivating in Presentations

October 1, 2014 / Blog PowerPoint Design, presentation design, simplicity, visual simplicity

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” —Leonardo Da Vinci

When it comes to presentations, less is always more. We’re living in a fast-paced environment that calls for our attention from one thing to the next. As a result, our attention spans have grown shorter and shorter in recent years.

For presenters, the best way to solve this problem is by removing clutter. Particularly, you’ll need to cut back on slides packed with lengthy paragraphs, incomprehensible charts, and dizzying slide transitions. By streamlining your presentation deck, the audience can shift their focus on what you’re saying. They can concentrate on the core message without being distracted by too much information.

Have you ever seen a ballerina dance by herself on stage? When she takes center stage, the focus is centered on how she moves to convey powerful emotions. In the same way, visual simplicity gives your audience the opportunity to concentrate on the ideas you’re sharing.

These four tips will help you achieve visual simplicity in PowerPoint design:

Start with the basics

To prepare for a presentation, most people start by creating  their slides. While this method saves you time, it’s one of the main reasons why slides easily become overwhelming. Starting from scratch, you’re never sure which direction you want the presentation to go. Instead of focusing on one line of argument, you end up branching out to different topics. Your slides are complicated because your content is complicated, as well.

Keep your PowerPoint deck contained by starting with the basics. Sit on your desk with a pen and notepad. Scribble down your ideas and identify the main points you want to make. Create a rough outline and turn it into a presentation storyboard.

Work with images

In the business world, PowerPoint slides with long paragraphs is a common occurrence. Sometimes, slides are filled with so many words that the audience needs to squint in order to read them. To avoid this scenario, it’s better to illustrate your points with images.

A ballet dancer can portray love and longing simply by the way she moves. In the same way, you can also emphasize key concepts and ideas through carefully curated images. As the old saying goes, “a picture paints a thousand words.”

Cut back on data and tell a story

No matter how complicated, data can always tell a story. Instead of listing down numbers or creating complex graphs, focus on what they mean instead. Why is a five percent increase important to your discussion? What about it is important for your audience to know? Why is this spreadsheet crucial to the points you’re trying to make?  What is it about and what is it trying to say? Trim down your data and share what’s only important to your discussion.

Find the perfect color palette

According to color psychology, colors can influence how we view the world. It can affect our moods, emotions, and behaviors. Instead of using complicated animations, you can add dimension to your visuals by simply choosing the right colors.

Find the color palette that suits your presentation by looking elsewhere for inspiration. For a pitch, you might want to use the colors of your brand logo. You can also head to sites like COLOURlovers and Adobe Kuler to find and experiment with different combinations. Color plays an important role in a seamless visual experience, so choose your palette wisely.


Visuals shouldn’t distract your audience from the core of your presentation. The slides you design should help your message stand out.

By cutting back on all unnecessary elements, you will be able to present something more memorable and captivating.


Featured Image: Scudamore’s Punting Cambridge via Flickr