As a creative agency we regularly pick up on trends when it comes to marketing tools. We are often asked by clients to provide designs for high impact sales presentations, followed by the comment; "Are there any better alternatives to PowerPoint? It is so dull!"

Yes, there are plenty of alternatives out there (that we’ve explored too), but whisper it, PowerPoint is back and if utilised properly can produce professional, animated presentations with a serious wow factor.

On a number of occasions we have showcased PowerPoint designs to our clients and the feedback has consistently been “Wow! That cannot be PowerPoint!?”. But yes, it is. Gone are the dull, crammed slides that are way off brand, it has been rebuilt from the bottom up and now has sophisticated typographic and animated design tools (and video integration) at it’s disposal. You can create impactful presentations that are visually miles away from the traditional view of PowerPoint.

A considered and well-designed master presentation template, consistently branded, is a powerful tool that helps reinforce your brand in a sales environment. Presentations produced using master templates not only have a professional, polished and coherent look from start to finish, but are less time consuming to create.

And for those team members who are less confident about using presentation software, creating a master template with a clear set of instructions and guidelines (and an image library to utilise) ensures the finished presentation will be on message and on brand – the single comment and request most mentioned to us in discussions with our Clients.

With that in mind we have compiled a list of 12 useful points to remember when preparing your presentations:

1. Presentations are not meant for detailed reading
Each slide in a presentation will only be accessible to the audience for a small amount of time, so it’s important that the design allows you to emphasise key content. Summarise using key words and phrases, images, diagrams or data points. Utilised properly, well designed information graphics are a very powerful and high impact communication tool. They ensure your presentation clearly conveys your key points and messages to keep the audience engaged.

2. Key messages are the hero
Animated sequences, sound effects and other ‘bling’ should not distract from the presentation content - articulating your key messages to the audience in a clear and concise manner is the sole purpose.

3. Are all points clear and readable?
Keeping your audience attentive is vital; ensure all elements of your slides are legible enough to be seen and digested clearly and quickly. Size and clarity is essential – especially when presentations have a time limit.

4. Don’t resort to cliché
Off the shelf presentation templates are convenient but quickly resort to visual cliché (and largely the reason why PowerPoint presentations have become a byword for dull!) as they force you to fit your ideas into packaged mould. Creating a templated presentation that contains distracting backgrounds and poor typographic layout will detract from your visual brand and message. Not to mention clarity and impact.

5. Let your logo be seen and remembered
Think before putting your logo on each slide as it can soon become ‘invisible’ (and it is often too small to see clearly). Ensure impact by using it at an appropriate size on the first and last slides.

6. Make your animated sequences count
By including considered animated sequences in the right places you can ensure key messages really stand out at the right time – think about the kind of impact you intend to make.

7. Keep the information flowing
Clearly signpost changes of subject so your audience knows where the presentation is heading. Present the information and build-up in a clear, logical and linear manner.

8. Imagery should reinforce the message
Use quality images that reinforce and complement your message. It’s worth spending the time to search for engaging imagery that will resonate with your audience. Don’t opt for the easy solution, or clichéd library shots (eyes will roll when those images are used!). Also – as importantly, ensure any images used maintain their impact and resolution when projected on a larger screen. Always test beforehand.

9. A slide a minute
Limit the number of slides. Presenters who constantly ‘flip’ to the next slide are likely to lose their audience. A good rule of thumb is one slide per minute.

10. Tricks of the trade
Learn to navigate your presentation in a non-linear fashion. PowerPoint allows the presenter to jump ahead or back without having to page through all the interim slides.

11. No time in reconnaissance is ever wasted
If you are not using your own device to run your presentation ask about the equipment set-up you will be using (even do a trial run if possible). Don’t get caught out on the day of your big presentation by outdated technology, connectivity issues and slides that won’t display properly on larger screens, etc.

12. Have a Plan B
Always take a copy of your presentation on a USB stick or Flash drive – wireless networks and connectivity can’t always be relied upon!

If you would like to know more about our PowerPoint expertise and see example presentations, then please call us on 01256 370910 or send us an email.

Author: Spencer Ide