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  • Writer's pictureBeth Davidson

4 simple design tips to spice up your next virtual presentation

Updated: May 4, 2021

Virtual meetings aren’t the ‘new’ norm any longer. In a world where we are spending more time on virtual meetings than ever before (have you counted the number of times you were in front of a camera this past year?!), nailing that online presentation is essential.

Just like you might select that touch-up appearance tool in your favorite app, polishing your slide deck for that next online meeting should be at the top of the list.

Here’s the thing: Your colleagues and/or participants are tired of seeing the same ole fill-in-the-blank templates. (Aren’t you?) Instead, spice up your deck with a few simple but jazzy touches. It will take your virtual experience and engagement to the next level.

How? Glad you asked. From choosing the right design tool to picking the perfect photos, we’ve compiled a list of tips and best practices to help your next presentation dial it up.

User-friendly tools save you time + look amazing. 🛠

It’s time to step away from those built-in cookie-cutter PowerPoint templates (although, yes, you can find some revamped ones here) in favor of more creative and fresh template choices. One of our favorite, easy-to-use design tools is Canva and they offer loads of presentation templates (seriously we could spend hours browsing through them) to get you started with an inspired design.

Oh, and did we mention there’s a robust free version?

Pro-tip: Have a lengthy presentation? Use Canva’s Grid Tool to get a birdseye view of your slides.

Not only does Canva set you up with a myriad of diverse slide deck templates, the app offers other appreciable digital design tools. These include:

  • font combination suggestions;

  • free and not-at-all-cheesy stock photos;

  • a color wheel and palette generator;

  • a design size guide for all types of content ranging from flyers to social media to presentations;

  • numerous templates for a wide range of digital design needs;

  • and even trendy virtual backgrounds.

Consistency, less text and the right fonts make all the difference. ✨

Say it with us: less is more. That should be your mantra when considering what and how much content should appear on each slide.

Overcrowding slides with too much text is a common mistake. And it’s sure to warrant a yawn (or three) from your fellow meeting participants. Slides bursting with sentences are unnecessary when you’re there to explain them. Stick to short lists, main ideas, and headings—that’s it.

Pro-tip: Instead of sticking to the overused, normal bullet points, try using icons as bullet points instead. (These can be literal or metaphorical.)

The world around us is bewildering enough. Let’s not cause any more confusion by creating a presentation with multiple color schemes, ten different fonts and slides that all look different.

Consistency is key. Pick a theme, a color scheme with no more than five colors, and fonts that are readable (steer clear of those fancy script fonts). There’s no need to clutter your slides with too many elements; stay tuned for an example on visuals in the next section. And remember the sizing of elements is important! Make sure they do not take up too much space on the slide.

By that, I mean leave a healthy amount of white space. What is white space, you ask? It is, put simply, a visual palate cleanser. An area totally free of visuals or text.

So, why are we talking about it? Well, if used strategically, white space can improve your presentation as well as your message.

Intentionally leave space around your text and images. You’ll notice how it enhances the overall impression of the slide. If you’re looking to learn more, Canva has some tips on how to design with white space.

OK, let’s talk a little about fonts. It’s important to pay attention to how you size your fonts—especially for readability. We recommend using:

  • A minimum font size of 20 points for lists,

  • A minimum font size of 18 points for paragraph text,

  • A maximum of 30 points for subheaders, and

  • A maximum size of 64 points for headers.

Pro-tip: Need font inspiration? Canva has you covered. Check out their 20 unique font combinations aimed to help you choose the right pair.

Visuals and images are so much more than eye candy. 💡

Viewers want more from your presentation than slapping cute clipart on a slide and calling it a day. A really interesting, engaging slide has a thoughtful and well-chosen graphic to accompany the text.

It may very well be a metaphorical representation of what you’re describing, rather than the more obvious options. (For example, an image of a flourishing plant to demonstrate revenue growth. Or an unfinished puzzle to emphasize a challenge.)

At a loss for where to find visuals that won’t break the bank? Browse through free photo and graphic options on Rawpixel or Unsplash to help spruce up your slides. Your images and visuals—including charts, graphs, templates or icons—should always help tell the story of the content, support your message, and above all, increase the viewer’s understanding of each slide.

Whatever you do, don’t go overboard with images or graphics. The folks at Entrepreneur agree that taking the minimalist route will not only improve your design; it will prevent your audience from being overwhelmed AND make the strongest impact. A win-win!

Aaaaah. That is beautiful design work!

Seriously, stop it with all of the transitions.

One last tip: ease up on the animated transitions. There may be a multitude to choose from, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should use them—at all. Oftentimes overuse serves as a distraction, steering participants away from what truly matters in your presentation. Remember this: if your content, images and visuals are interesting and conveying your key message, adding a needless transition won’t enhance it in any way.

Let’s recap:

  • the right design tools are essential;

  • consistency in look and feel, legible fonts and less text matter;

  • images and visuals will ramp up your slides (if thoughtfully included);

  • and transitions can be scrapped.

Put the days of boring virtual presentations behind you by incorporating the practices above. Get ready to rock your next virtual talk! (And share your top tips with the Founders team on LinkedIn.)



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