Principles of Effective PowerPoint Presentation Design | Ben Nielsen | Skillshare

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Principles of Effective PowerPoint Presentation Design

teacher avatar Ben Nielsen, Good design is the beginning of learning

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (38m)
    • 1. Intro

    • 2. Two Rules

    • 3. What Slides are Not

    • 4. Elements

    • 5. Properties

    • 6. Color

    • 7. Text

    • 8. Images

    • 9. Remove Background from Images

    • 10. Animations

    • 11. Class Project

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About This Class


Most people struggle to design effective slides for their presentations. In this course Ben teaches you the principles that will skyrocket the impact of your slides and allow you to give incredible presentations.  

Meet Your Teacher

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Ben Nielsen

Good design is the beginning of learning


I am passionate about good design and good teaching. I believe that anyone can learn simple design principles and tools that can help them create content that is both beautiful and functional.


Background: I am a media designer and librarian. My masters degree is in instructional design with an emphasis on informal learning.


Motto: Good design is the beginning of learning.

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1. Intro: Hi. Welcome to effective PowerPoint slide design. My name is Ben Nelson, and I'll be your instructor for this course. In this class, you're going to learn how to create effective PowerPoint slides that can support you as a presenter. We all know that most power point slides look really bad, but often we don't know why they look bad in this course. I'm going to help you become part of the solution. I have to warn you, though a lot of what else A in this course will destroy everything you've ever known about Power Point. It will make the presentations that you've made in the past look horrendous to you. I don't want you to be offended because of this. I don't want you to take it personally. It's not your fault that you've created bad power points in the past. Your product of the society in which you've been brought up and the power points that you've seen have been terrible. And so you in turn, have created terrible power points. Also, the power point program itself doesn't make it easy to design good slides. It puts things out in front of you that encourage poor slide design. So we're going to learn how to overcome that and use the powerful tools they're hidden in power point toe actually make our slides look better and be more impactful. So if you're ready, let's go ahead. Let's dive in and let's learn to create some effective power point slides. 2. Two Rules: way dive into the tools inside a PowerPoint that were used to create effective slides. I want teach you to rules that if you follow, will skyrocket the effectiveness of your power point 100%. The first rule is never use a default PowerPoint template, and the second rule is only have one point per sly. The reason for the first rule is two fold. First. PowerPoint templates are not well designed. They encourage you to make poor design choices by putting too much on a slide, using too much text and violating many of the principles that we will talk about later in this course. So don't use a template. The other reason not to use a template is that when you use a default PowerPoint template, your audience has already seen a presentation that looked like that before, and you just become part of the noise in an endless parade of terrible power points that they have to watch. When you design your own slides, you become unique and you stick out in your audience is mine because you look different than every other presentation that they've seen before. The reason for the second rule only have one point per slide is that your audience on Lee needs to see one point at a time the point that you're talking about. If there's more than one point on the slide, then your audience will begin to read ahead of you. And if your audience is reading ahead of you, they're not listening to you. The point of your presentation is that your audience listens to you and understands what you're saying. Not that they read your power point, so never have more than one point per slide. So always, always, always follow these two rules. Never use a default PowerPoint template, and I only have one point per slide. If you do that, your power points will become so much. 3. What Slides are Not: with the primary reason for the terrible power point slides that you see everywhere is a basic misunderstanding off what PowerPoint presentation slides are in this video. I'm going to go over some of the most common mistakes in making par point sites and three things that PowerPoint slides are not. This will help you avoid the pitfalls that so many presentations fall into first and most commonly, Power point presentation slides are not presenter notes. This mistake leads to crowded slides that look terrible that your audience reads rather than listening to you the presenter. The slight look awful, and they take your audiences attention away from you as they look to read the slides, and they take the presenters attention away from the audience as they also read the slides . PowerPoint has a notes feature where you can put your presenter notes that we'll talk about but remember, Even if the computer and the projector were to fail, you should be able to give a good presentation Anyways. You shouldn't be relying on your slides to lead you through the presentation. Second, PowerPoint slides are not handouts, despite the fact that PowerPoint will encourage you to print your slides as handouts. Effective power point slides and effective handouts are not the same thing. Presentation slides serve as a visual backup for the presenter. They helped to emphasize his points. Handouts serve as a reminder or a reference to what the presenter set Power Point can be used to create very effective handouts. But those are a different document than the presentation. Slides and handouts should be giving out after the presentation so that your audience can focus on you while you're speaking. Number three is closely related to number two. Power Point presentation slides are not review material. I have often heard, college professors say to their students, Don't worry about writing down everything that's on a slide, because I'll put the slides up later for review. I cringe every time I hear something like this, because effective Power point presentation slides cannot be used for review. An effective review slides cannot be used for presentation because they fulfill different purposes. Power Point is a great tool for building powerful learning content and also for doing topic reviews. But these were not the same thing as presentation slides. Now that I've gone over all these things, that power point slides or not, you might be wondering, what are PowerPoint slides for that It's simple PowerPoint presentations, like our visual support for the points that the presenter is making. 4. Elements: way we're ready to start actually designing slides. When you open up Power Point, you'll be presented with a group of templates that you can choose from course. We aren't going to choose a template. We're going to choose the blank presentation. That's Rule number one. Never use the default template double click blank presentation to open it up. Even the blink presentation comes with some text elements already placed on the first light , so we can go ahead, select those by clicking and dragging and delete them because we won't need them. PowerPoint is a powerful design toe under our plethora of elements available to us in Power Point, but it's important to understand. The Power Point is a visual editor, not a document editor. This is difficult for many people to grasp, because PowerPoint itself doesn't make it easy to understand. The home tab on the ribbon shows you right off the bat a number of text editing elements that make it difficult for many people to understand that this is really meant to be a visual editor. There are two types of elements in PowerPoint, visual and textual, but always start with visual because that's the most important part. Many of those were found on the insert tab of the ribbon. Visual elements in PowerPoint consist of things like shapes and lines, charts and graphs and tables. Whenever you can use a visual element to back up what the presenters saying, this lens mawr impact to your slides using a visual and your own spoken word allows your audience to processing two channels the Auditory Channel and the visual channel. This increases your audiences ability to remember what you've said. Visuals are almost always more powerful than text, so use visuals whenever possible. Avoid putting a lot of text on screen with a visual. When you have a lot of text on screen, your audience tries to read it, and that lessens the impact of your visual because they have less time looking at it and processing it while listening to what you're saying. That being said, textual elements Arthuis second type of elements in PowerPoint and they can be used effectively added text element. You choose text box and then drag out the text box. You do that. You're gonna have all the tools that you're used to from Microsoft work. Like I said, to adjust the text in your PowerPoint slides. But remember to use text sparingly. Texas often abused in power points, and you using text sparingly will help your presentation to stand out from others. Bullet points there found here on the ribbon. If you find yourself using bullet points, remember that you are probably in violation of rule to which is one point per slide. In short, remember that there are two types of elements and power point visual elements and textual elements, and the visual elements should always take precedence over text. 5. Properties: Every element in PowerPoint has properties that you can modify to help get the design that you want. These include the color of the fill of the element, the color and size of the stroke of the only the size of the element itself and the position of the element on the slide. Text elements have all the properties of a visual element, but in addition to that, they have their own properties as well can be found on the home tab of the ribbon and include things like the font the size of the find. The emphasis of the font in the orientation of the text, in addition to being positioned on the slide text, also has positioning inside of the text box itself. Being able to adjust the properties of a design element is crucial to getting the design like that you want. There are two ways to adjust the properties of an element. The first is to use options on the ribbon like I've done here. The second way is to select the element right click and shoes format shape from the menu. This will open up the format panel in Power Point when the format panel opens, It can be a little confusing because you will see that you have two options. You have shape options and text options. And you might say to yourself, Well, wait a minute, Ben, You said that visual elements and text elements are different. So why do I have both here? From a design perspective, it's true that they're different. We use them in different ways or in combinations together to create different effects in our audience. But from a technical perspective, PowerPoint sees everything the same. It's see shapes as empty text boxes, and it ceased text boxes as empty ships. This means that you can add visual elements to your text, such as color fill to the text box. Or you can add text elements to your objects, such as text inside of the circle. Let me show you what I mean with this circle from in the format panel. I can, of course, suggest the color and the Phil and the stroke. If I click my text box, I could do the same thing by adding a fill and a stroke. Conversely, if I'm on my circle, it's used to edit the text options I give them right click my circle. She's at it text and add text to my circle. Then I have all the text controls that you would expect. The important thing to remember is that if you need to adjust the properties of an element , you can do so from the ribbon or from the format panel. There's also a special set of properties called animations and transitions that can be applied to objects, but we'll be talking more about those later. 6. Color: no way color is one of the most crucial properties that you can have in a presentation. The right color scheme can help you set the mood that you're trying to create with your presentation. And that, in turn, will affect how receptive your audiences to the message that you're giving. There are already a lot of courses here on skill share that teach color theory, so I won't go into all of the basics of color theory here. But feel free to look up one of these courses after we're done with this class, that will help you learn how colors interact together and how you can use them to create certain moods. For now, we're going to focus on learning how to take control of color inside of power. Point the place to start with colors here on the design tap of the ribbon. If you did what I suggested and you started with a blank PowerPoint presentation, then you will be using Microsoft's default office color scheme right here. To be honest, these colors aren't all that bad, but they do scream default, and we want our presentations to stand out, so we really need to come up with our own color scheme for our presentation. The way to create your own color scheme is by going to the color group on the ribbon, choosing colors and then customise colors. We will focus on changing the accent colors of our things. If you are designing your presentation is part of a company or organization that already has set branded colors than those air the colors that you should use in your presentation. By clicking on these colored swatches next to the accents, you can input the RPG or hex codes for your brand colors. If you do not have brand colors to use, then you will need to create your own color thing. Please don't just try to randomly choose colors from the color wheel that almost always turns out looking very ugly. Instead, you should use the free website color dot adobe dot com, and it will help you to create theory based color schemes or find color schemes created by designers to get a theory based color scheme. Choose an option from the left over here to get a color theme someone else has made choose Explorer along the top. Here, you can browse through thousands of color schemes. You can also search for themes by name. All search sunrise because I think that will give me a lot of good options. And it pulls up all of the different color themes that have to do with sunrises. I'll just scroll down here until I find one that I like. They got like, this one cult sunrise missed. Once I find one that I like, I can click at a copy that will allow me to you get the RGB and the hex coats, which I can then bring in to Power Point. Now back in Power Point, I can come along here and I can choose Accent one going back to you the RGB sliders. I'm just going to input this hex code. You wanna watch and make sure that this little Swatch changes. I've noticed that sometimes in PowerPoint, this watch won't change. And when that happened, you actually have to exit out of power point and restart it, and then you'll be able to go ahead and change the color scheme. I think it's just a bug in the program. Another important thing to realize is that this accent one is going to become your default color for any shapes that you place. So if you could make that one the color that you'll use the most often that can be helpful . But changing colors is simple, so it's not crucial. I was gonna come in and grab each of these, and you're to make sure that it goes in. So look a little different on a PC, and PC doesn't let you use the hex codes, so you'll have to use the RGB codes. But you'll get the same colors. Okay, once I've got all my colors in, then I can name my color thing, and I'm just going to call it what the title was on the website, which was sunrise, missed and then save it. And then that comes in a selectable theme right here. Colors. Sunrise missed. Now, if I go to insert on, I achieves shape. Grab another circle here, drag that out. It's going to draw with my first accent color, and then when I come to shape fill, you can see that I have the colors that I put in along the top, and then PowerPoint has automatically created tints and shades. This green was left over from the old thing because I didn't have six colors in my thing. Uh, so it's just these five accents in the middle that I will be using using a specific thought out color scheme for your presentations is one the most important things you can do in order to shoot created, cohesive design that can really pull the impact for your? 7. Text: but with the first full of text is to use it sparingly. We've already covered that quite a bit. The second rule of text is to make it readable. You probably know the place in which you will be presenting, and you should make the text that you put on your slides readable from the back of the venue. A good rule of thumb for any presentation is to never go below 30 point font. If you are remembering to follow the rule of one point per slide, then you should never haven't need to go below 30 point font. And in fact, you should have opportunity to go much larger. Many times since your presentation will be shown on a screen, you should use a sans serif font because those air best read on screens the front you will most often see me using. It's called Quicksand. Quicksand is a nice sensor font with a full family of different weights and styles. They last for a lot of versatility while still looking very consistent. There are lots of fonts like it. You do want to be careful, though, when using nonstandard fonts, meaning cross that you've installed from the Web or from another program. This is because if you present off of a computer that's not your own, it probably won't have that Fonts installed and Power Point will have to choose a different font to put in its place. This can mess up how your slight look and make your design look really bad, even though it was really good on your own computer. If you use the PC version of PowerPoint, you can try and avoid this by embedding your fonts. But you can't embed fonts on power point for Mac. So you either need to bring your own computer with you or choose a thought that is standard across different computers. Some funds are not readable at any distance, no matter how big they are. This is because they're really complicated, flowy fonts. And while those can look nice in some design scenarios, they're not good for presentations. Your audience needs to be able to clearly understand what you're communicating to them, so don't you script a flowy fonts to put in your presentation? Remember, your text should be large enough to be read. We'll go ahead and bump my text up here. Teoh, 40 points I can even go quite a bit larger than that. Put in addition to the size, though you need to think about the contrast, and that has to do with the color and the weight of the font. If we give our background this lavender color black in contrast with that, okay. But also come up here and we can change it to this dark teal and see how that contrasts. That's contrasting pretty good. We have a dark font on a light background, and I think if we increase the weight of that, it will contrast even better. Center this in the box, and then we have a nicely contrast ing. Word with our background can even make it larger so that it's easier for our audience to read this up and will continue to make your far larger and larger once it gets in outside the text box that will drop down to another line, but you can just extend the text box to make it bigger. And that's how to use text when creating effective power points 8. Images: they say that a picture is worth 1000 words, and since you would never put 1000 words onto a presentation, slide images air Really your best option for portraying complex ideas in your slides. You can create your own graphics and power point using the shape tools for you can bring in images you got from somewhere else, like a J peg or a PNG. For more on creating your own graphics and power point, see my courses on creating icons and part point. Those will give you the tools that you need to create your own complex graphics using just Power point. In this video, I'm going mostly focus on images that you get from somewhere else, like J Pegs and PNG's. So it's jumping here. The way you bring an image into part point is but using insert and then pictures on. Then there's a couple different options. But I'm going to choose picture from file, come into my downloads and use the street, she was insert. It places the image on my slide. Now the best thing that you could do with images is make them as largest possible so that everyone can see them Often you can just go ahead and make them take up the entire slide, so long as they're high enough resolution to do that. If they're not a high enough resolution, this image were smaller. You want to make sure that the background of your slide is a neutral color that makes it so . It's easy to see the image. For example, black is a nice neutral color that makes the image stand out. You often don't need to add any words to your images because you are there. You're the presenter, and you can explain the image. You don't need words on the slide to do that. The exception to this would be if you are required to give photo credit to whoever took the picture that you're using that will depend on your license. Often you can give that photo credit at the end of the presentation on a credit slide, but some licenses require you to put it directly on the slide where you're using it. The reason we want to avoid text is that it distracts from the purpose of the image, which is trying to make a point as you speak about it when you're on an image. There's an effects portion right here of the format panel. You want to avoid this as much as possible because these effects can make your image look very cheesy. My only exception to this is when you do have a background that your images sitting on because it can't fill the whole slide, use the soft edges toe a minimal extent to make the edge between the image and the background not look quite as hard like, so you just barely needed it. Just softens it up a little bit so that that hard edge isn't hitting between the image and the background. Power point does have some minor photo correction tools. If you're on an image and you go into the picture format tab, there are some correction tools. But I would suggest that you do your photo corrections in a photo program like Photoshopped or Affinity photo. That way you'll get better results from your images than trying to use PowerPoint. My only exception to that is if the only correction need to do is to remove a solid colored background from a photo and I'll cover how do you do that effect next 9. Remove Background from Images: the way one of the most tacky things you can do a new presentation is put up a slide with pictures that have a white background surrounding them. This looks super tacking and shows that you don't really know what you're doing when it comes to working with images. Fortunately, if you have a picture with a white background or any solid colored background, you can easily fix this in power point by using the removed background tool. I'm going to show you how to do that. Right now I have this picture has this white background. You can see how tacky this looks of goblets White Square on my otherwise nice lavender background. I just need to select my picture and under a picture format, just Jews removed. Background. That's gonna dio is part points. Gonna look and it's going to try and see what the background is and then select it. And that's what it's showing in the magenta. Don't worry that magenta will go away. Then we can select areas of the picture that we want to add or delete. So, for example, I can select more of this white. I just want to get rid of all the white parts. We could take longer doing that. But we want right now if it gets something, If it takes out something that you want, you will see the low plus sign when you hover over an area that's been deleted and you can click on that to bring it back. All right, Once you're done, just go ahead and hit. Enter and there you have it. You have a tree with no white background that you can now use on your slide, and that looks a lot more professional. It looks a lot better on your slide, and it only takes a few seconds to take. 10. Animations: animations can be fun to play with when you're designing a Power Point presentation, but they're almost never good for your audience to watch. Animations tend to be distracting. They take away from the point that you the prisoner making because your audiences wondered why things were flying around and spinning on doing all kinds of crazy things. The only time you should be using an animation in your presentation is when it helps to convey the point that you, the presenter, are trying to make. I want to emphasize that this happens only rarely. And if you have any doubt about whether or not an animation should be used, just take it off. It probably won't be helpful. It will most likely be distracting, since animations air not crucial to designing a effective presentation. We're going to spend a lot of time going into the details of animations in this video. But there are a few things that you need to know if you are going to attempt to use animations. The first thing to know is that animations are available on both the Mac and the PC platforms, but the options available to you on a PC are much more robust than those on a Mac. And if you have to move between computers, one Mac and one PC, you will notice that there are some things you can do on a PC that you can do on a Mac. That's why the second thing that you should understand about animations is that there are four different types. If you have an object selected and you go to the animations tab, then you can apply in animation. The first type is entrance effects. These bring an object onto the slide. The second type is an emphasis effect. These take an object that's on the slide and do something to them to emphasize them. The third type is an exit effect. These taken object off of the slide. The fourth and final type is a path animation. These move the object on the slide. It's important to understand that there are these four different type and to use them accordingly. If you choose the wrong type of animation for an object, then when you go to present, your objects may not display correctly or in the timing, but you want them to the third thing to know about working with animations is that you need this animation paying to be displayed. You can do that from this button right here on the animations tab on the ribbon. If you don't have the animations pain displaying it can be very hard to keep track of your animations and very hard to not overwrite them. For example, if I want to animate this circle, I wanted to bounce in. You can see that now I have to animations. I have my path animation on my bounce in animation Will. You didn't delete this path animation. Now if I highlighted on this and then I come and choose my polls emphasis animation, it will actually replace it. So it's important if I want to have to animations that I am not highlighted on an animation in the pain. We go ahead and hit Command Z to undo that and now fight Click off of that animation, but on to my object. I can then choose the polls, and that will actually appear after my first animation. Make sure that I'm clicked off of that, but on my circle and then she's my exit animation. Then I have three animations on one object I can bring it in. I can emphasize it. I can bring it out. Remember, you would only do that if it applied to the point that you were trying to make with that slide. One last thing. If you are going to use an animation to create a point on your slide, you probably want to have fine tuned control over it. Some animations, for example, the float in or float out animations actually have affect options. If you wanted something to float in but say you were trying to emphasize something coming down from above, then you would want to change that to float down rather than float up. So if an animation has options, they will be under this effect. Options box, which will only be clickable if there are options available to knowing the ins and outs of animations, can help you use them effectively. But remember, only use them if they help you to make the point that you're trying to make in your presentation. Never use an animation just for show 11. Class Project: thanks for taking this course. I hope that you will take the time to complete the project for this course as actually doing the things that we talked about will help them to be solidified in your mind and make it so that they're part of the toolkit that you can use whenever you need to design a presentation. The project for this course is pretty simple. I want you to design a slide deck of about 10 slides that are about a topic that you care about so that you can practice the rules and the skills that we've talked about in this course. When you've got that slide deck done, go ahead and save it as a PdF and then uploaded here to skill share. Or you can save the mountains J pegs and upload.