5 PowerPoint Design Tips for the PR Professional

By Matter

Here we are at the beginning of Q1, which for many PR pros can mean lots of planning meetings – and with that the creation of the ubiquitous PowerPoint deck. As a PR professional, you probably don’t fancy yourself a designer, and you may not have one available to you, so here are a few basics from our designers to help you create a visual presentation that works with your content, not against it.

1 – Simplicity. You want the design of your deck to compliment your content, not compete with is. Keep your design as simple as possible by following the tips below and going for a modern “flat” design aesthetic – stay away from embellishments like drop shadows, bevel/embossing, 3-D effects or the image frame options provided. Nix the use of distracting animations for a simple fade transition between slides. Use solid colors, sharp corners and a minimum amount of imagery on the page so that the audience can keep it’s focus on your material.

2 – Typography. Try to stick with the adage “show don’t tell” as much as possible. Using minimal copy, often as bullet points versus full paragraphs is always the ideal, but on the inevitable slide where you can’t cut down on word count, cut down on font size instead. Remember, this will be projected and/or printed out, so there’s no need to use 18 point font. A smaller font with more space between and around it is far more readable than a larger font that is crammed onto a slide. And use 2 fonts maximum – one for bolder header treatments and one for body copy.

3 – Color. Keep your use of colors to 3 maximum. If you have colors that are your brand standard, take the guess work out of the equation and stick with those. If not, choose 2-3 visually contrasting shades that can be easily distinguished from each other. When used in shapes, charts or graphics, solid colors, or very subtle gradients are best.

4 – Imagery. Stay away from the cheesy, overly-produced “stocky” photography or clip-art style graphics. Skip the cliched images of handshakes, puzzle pieces and lightbulbs turning on! Using real world, authentic-looking photography will maintain an air of legitimacy and professionalism to your deck. Also be aware of whether the image you’re using is properly licensed – IE, not just pulled from a Google Images search. There are plenty of legitimate sources for free or inexpensive stock photography that doesn’t take the bread out of a photographer’s mouth or land you legal trouble. Try the Flickr Creative Commons image library for free licensed photography, or Shutterstock for inexpensive photos and vector graphics..

5 – Consistency. When you’re done creating your deck, don’t just go back and proof the copy – check your design elements as well. Make sure that you’re using the same fonts and colors consistently. Try the “replace fonts” action as a foolproof way to check your fonts. Look at your headers and footers for any sizing, alignment or page numbering issues. Show the audience the importance you place on attention to detail in all aspects of your work.

While there are a myriad of other tips and options, following just these 5 will help you produce a deck that’s clean, well-designed and leaves a lasting impression.