Making Effective PowerPoint Presentations: A Guide for Marketers

For a software program that has been around for over 25 years, PowerPoint is sometimes thought of as an unsophisticated or even outdated tool in the marketing toolbox. Yet, often what is really behind this labeling is HOW PowerPoint is used, not WHAT it can actually do. Too many times PowerPoint itself has been blamed when poor presentation skills or weak slide design may be the true culprits behind a failed presentation.

Here at Eclipse Marketing, we create PowerPoint presentations for several scenarios. Externally, we use them for client meetings when we present our agency capabilities or our creative work. We also create webinar content using PowerPoint as well. Internally, slide decks are made for our own meetings and training sessions. We’ve also been hired to create PowerPoint decks for our clients to use in their B2B or internal presentations too.

Now we’re taking all of that experience and sharing our favorite tips and tricks for marketers who want to create fresh and exciting PowerPoint presentations that are both memorable and motivational to your target audience.

Create a slide roadmap

Think like a marketer. Just like you would consider your target audience’s motivations and plan a marketing strategy accordingly, the best way to ensure a good presentation deck is to consider your audience and your desired outcome for your presentation first. Plan out your slides as a rough outline before even opening PowerPoint. Think about the most important concept that you want your target audience to take away, and then build your slide outline to reinforce this point. Consider how much time your presentation should last, leaving room for questions and discussions, and map out a rough outline of slides and content. This probably will change and evolve, but it’s critical to have a blueprint to follow to ensure no important information is left out or that too much “extra” content is muddling your big idea.

Identify a font style and be consistent

Almost nothing ruins a slide deck design more than inconsistent or seemingly random font choices. Your slide deck’s fonts should match your company’s brand guidelines on fonts, if available. Or, choose simple and easy-to-read fonts, avoiding Calibri and other default fonts that feel ordinary. There are many free font typefaces that are both beautiful and simple. In any case, limit the fonts and font sizes to create a professional look and feel. For example, determine that headlines will all be 30pt font size, while subheads and body copy will be 18pt. The key to this is holding true to this rule across ALL slides. If it causes headlines to break to two lines or copy to run off the page, this is a signal to cut down copy first or break up content across multiple slides, NOT to reduce your font size. Avoid the dreaded ‘wall of text’ at all costs!

Simplify each slide, then simplify again

One of the biggest mistakes in slide design is overfilling each slide with content – images or text – and creating overly complex animations. Simplify each slide by removing extraneous text that you can speak to without reading the screen. Any images included should be adding value. Animating text or content to build as you speak is a must-do, but you should avoid using cliché animations that distract from your presentation. Very few occasions will call for action sound effects, text spinning or extreme zoom animation. Stick with the Fade In/Fade Out, Appear, and other simpler effects. The exception to this rule: If you’re sharing a presentation as a file and won’t get the chance to speak while the viewer looks at it, then you do have to provide more context on screen. However, in this case, it’s still wise to spread out text/images across multiple slides versus cramming tightly.

Present one idea per slide

Venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki introduced the 10/20/30 Rule of PowerPoint in 2005. He says: “It’s quite simple: a PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.” Now while not every meeting or presentation falls into the 10 slide/20 minute rule, this is a great litmus test for your presentation to stop it from getting over complicated quickly.

Images Matter

Some people are visual learners and will listen and comprehend your marketing message better the more visuals are included. Use full-bleed large images that are relevant to your topic and look for ways to make these images consistent throughout the presentation. Avoid stock images that appear overly posed, cartoons, and even Microsoft’s library of clip art. You can find compelling imagery on paid photo services like Shutterstock or free services like Pexels or Unsplash. There are tools within PowerPoint to crop, colorize, and filter images so that they can fit on the page and have a similar look throughout.

Find Alignment

Avoid guessing or eye-balling to align content to each other or the slide. Use PowerPoint’s built-in Align tool to be exact and get that professional feel.

How to Align:

  • Hold down “Shift” and click on all of objects you want to align.
  • Click “Arrange” in the top bar.
  • Click “Align” – You can then align left, right, middle, etc. Do it!
Practice and Prepare

If you’ve gone through the process to create a beautiful presentation, not practicing makes it all for nothing. Take the time to practice, rehearse, and improve leading up to your presentation’s big day. The more natural and less nervous you appear, the better your words will be heard and remembered.

Feel like you could use some PowerPoint help?

If you’re up against a deadline or just looking for more help, it might be time to invest in professional presentation strategy and design. At Eclipse, you can get a dedicated team that will work with you to create beautiful and strategic PowerPoint presentations that are memorable and motivating, while you stay focused on your business. Get in touch today.

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