Our Blog

Updated: Aug 5

How to make a good presentation into a great presentation

We love reading about different rules and ideas for how to make a good presentation, but as people who create a lot of presentations, what we’ve found most remarkable about a typical presentation we do is how atypical they really are.

You see, the problem with so many of these guides is that they try to help you jazz up your slides, or tweak your language, when what you really need is a different approach to building your presentation.

So instead of telling you how to revise your presentations to be stronger, we encourage you to reframe how you approach creating them in the first place. With a little practice, these concepts will become second nature, and you’ll see the difference on the faces of every audience you meet.

Strategy #1: Write for your real audience, not your ideal one

There are rules that say you should never treat your PowerPoint like a book to be read from. We love this sentiment. LOVE. In a perfect world, every presentation we send out the door would tell a beautiful visual story for the presenter to voice over confidently.

The reality is, there are far too many exceptions to this rule.

Oftentimes we are tasked with creating collateral that must function both as an in-person pitch presentation and a leave behind document, where certain key stakeholders may not have the benefit of a voiceover while they are reviewing critical details.

So we find it best to begin by asking who will be viewing this presentation, and how will they be viewing it? Considering the needs of your client at this level is the first step towards making a great presentation, whether it is a beautifully airy CEO keynote or a detailed RFP vying for business.

Strategy #2: Let content be your guide

We’ve found plenty of handy rules out there that can help you make a good PowerPoint. The 7x7 rule, the 10/20/30 rule, and the 5/5/5 rule can all be handy at times, but their rigid structure can often be too inflexible. Because, despite your best intentions, some presentations simply cannot be 10 slides long.

But if you want to make a great PowerPoint, we find it better to ask the content to to tell you the right format. A sentence? A list? A picture? An infographic? If you listen, your content will tell you how it wants its story told.

And sometimes it’s easy to get hung up on slide count when it truly doesn’t matter that much.

We have a nearly universal rule that we adhere to, whenever possible — one idea per slide. If your deck has to communicate a breadth of ideas and information, space out your ideas so your audience can absorb them, even if that means using more slides. Conversely, if you know your content better than anyone, there might be a time to buck conventions and put everything into a more densely packed slide.

Strategy #3: Find your flow

A good presentation tells a story. This is no different than a novel, movie or a particularly moving song. They all have their beats – ups, downs, big reveals and thoughtful pauses. Presentations are no different.

That’s why our third surefire strategy is to consider how your presentation flows.

Once your slides are nicely designed, you should take a look at how it flows as a whole. We like to do this using slide sorter mode in PowerPoint, but we’ve also taped many printed slides to meeting room walls in our day.

Are the slides balanced? Are there moments that punctuate the flow and give it interest? Does it scan in an interesting way? Using colored backgrounds or full-bleed photography are just a couple of simple ways you can pepper dynamic moments into a presentation and keep your audience engaged until the Q&A.

We know how difficult creating a presentation can be, and we also know there’s a lot of advice out there. But don’t get overwhelmed by all the options, or feel like your presentation will flop if you don’t follow a certain formula.

Just take a step back, look at your presentation as a whole, and let these 3 strategies guide you. Because simply asking yourself to think about your audience, your content, and your presentation as a whole will put you on the path to PowerPoint success.

Have more questions about how to make a great presentation?

We have tons more advice on almost every aspect of presenting, all just waiting to help you wow your next audience. Check out our blog library for more presentation tips, or contact us to learn how we can help your business grow.

Have a favorite PowerPoint strategy you’d like to share? We’d love to hear about it!

If you’ve done any research on creating effective marketing presentations, you’ve probably seen some basic strategies for timing, slide design, and overall flow. These tools, like the 7X7 rule (which recommends no more than 7 lines of text on a slide with 7 words per line), are great for helping to ensure your presentation stays focused and your audience stays engaged.

You may also have heard of the 10-20-30 rule. Created by former Apple brand ambassador Guy Kawasaki, the 10-20-30 rule states that a PowerPoint presentation should have no more than 10 slides, never last longer than 20 minutes, and should use a minimum point size of 30 for the font.

At VerdanaBold, we’ve always said that content drives design. That means that the best marketing presentations need to be designed around the unique content and audience for that presentation. But as much as we believe in a content-first approach, we’ve found that the 10-20-30 rule is one of the most effective ways for novice PowerPoint designers to craft a marketing presentation template that delivers strong presentations without a lot of fuss.

Here are a few of the benefits of applying the 10-20-30 rule to your marketing presentation template.

1. It covers multiple aspects of a presentation

Perhaps the most important aspect of the 10-20-30 rule is how it covers all the key things you need to make an effective marketing presentation. We’ve long stressed that great design is just one aspect of presentations, and that the best ones also consider the audience and narrative. By using the 10-20-30 rule, you’ll have cleaner, more readable slides, but it will also help you keep the audience interested and make sure that you are focused on the most important messages that each slide needs.

2. It’s backed by science

It will come as no surprise that If your audience stops paying attention, your presentation is doomed. In formulating the 10-20-30 rule, Kawasaki notes the psychology of audiences and their attention span[1] , stating that the average human can not hold and absorb more than 10 pieces of information at a time. We’ve long said that the best marketing presentations should focus on one key idea per slide, and using the 10-20-30 rule is a great way to make sure each key message is heard.

3. It’s about more than just the presentation itself

The “20” in 10-20-30 says that effective marketing presentations keep to a max of 20 minutes, even if you’re given an entire hour! While this sounds radical at first, the idea is that you can leave the other 40 minutes for a discussion, fostering a relationship with your audience and creating better engagement and retention through discussion. If you’re pitching an idea and you’re one of multiple presentations your audience has to sit through, a tight 20 minute presentation can make you stand out among your competition.

As with any general rule, the 10-20-30 approach to presentations is only a guideline to help you put your presentation together. And more importantly, rigidly following a rule may lead you to missed opportunities or simply creating the wrong presentation for the audience and situation.

For example, 10 slides is a nice goal to work towards, but there are many different kinds of marketing presentation templates, and even in the face of scientific evidence, we are often tasked with creating decks that need to convey more than 10 ideas.

Many situations like RFPs require detailed responses, and trying to condense your proposal into 20 minutes could result in glossing over important details, resulting in a presentation that seems thin and makes you look underprepared. This can be exacerbated if the deck is also meant to function as a leave-behind document where certain key stakeholders may not be able to review your content until after the pitch is over.

Similarly, 30 point fonts are an excellent place to start if you’re following this format and depth of detail isn’t essential, but many PowerPoints need to function as both presentation tools and leave behinds for reference. You need to consider every application of your presentation, rather than adhering to rules in every case.

We’ve found the 10-20-30 rule to be a very effective way for novice PowerPoint users who want to create effective marketing presentations but aren’t sure where to begin. One tip is to start by taking an existing presentation, applying these rules and seeing what changes. As you start to see how this streamlined approach to presenting changes your marketing presentation templates, you’ll learn what works for your presentation style and for your audience.

We believe that the best marketing presentations are always made with the specific ask and audience in mind, but these nearly-universal ideas can serve as a great starting point for almost any presentation.

Looking for expert guidance on creating your next marketing presentation?

Contact us to learn how we can help with presentation design, writing, and training that will help you create PowerPoints that win business.

Updated: Jul 16

Just like you, we’ve been stuck inside for a few weeks, trying to balance staying productive and binge watching show after show. But just because most people are working from home doesn’t mean that businesses aren’t still working. So here are some presentation design tips on how to give an online presentation that will keep their eyes on your screen and off of the TV.

What’s different about presenting digitally?

A great online presentation isn’t the same as the one you’d give in person. Not only is the energy of the room (or screen) different, but you’ve got additional challenges to deal with.

Instead of being together in a room with all the attention on you, now your audience is everywhere. Not only can they not see your body language and physical presence, but they are dealing with a whole set of distractions, from stress to interrupting family members and pets to technological challenges.

So to craft a great digital presentation, you have to work even harder to keep your audience engaged. Here’s how you can do it.

Set everything up ahead of time

This may sound basic, but too many people just plan to present from a desk or a kitchen table. Even worse, they go into the presentation without having tested everything ahead of time, which too often leads to technological snags. Before your attendees join the meeting, you should:

  • Test your internet connection to ensure the signal is strong where you are presenting from

  • Practice with the platform and learn about any interactive features it has that could improve your presentation. For example, did you know in the video settings for Zoom there’s a beauty filter.

  • Ask someone to join before you begin to make sure the audio is clear

  • If possible, present from somewhere with a background that won’t be distracting to viewers. You can also try a customized teleconferencing background like these for the platform Zoom from Canva.

  • Depending on the nature of the presentation, you may want to turn off video of you while you present, so the screen doesn’t jump back and forth between you and your slides

Think visually

Since people are viewing remotely, an engaging and highly visual presentation is one of the best ways to keep them focused on your content – a list of bullet points isn’t enough to keep their focus on what’s on screen.

Avoid text-heavy slides and speak to information rather than just showing it. This also makes it easier to design visually compelling slides. Additionally, slides with too much information can lead viewers to focus their attention on reading, not on you.

If you’re unsure about how to create attention-grabbing slides, check out some of our other blogs on presentation design tips, like these and these.

Set the pace

With a screen separating everyone in the room, it’s more important than ever that you both maintain a good pace during your presentation and also build in breaks. You should strive to come across as high-energy and engaging, but even so you should build in brief breaks for interaction. The longer they sit still, the more like their attention will wander. This also means that it may be necessary to shorten your presentation. Think hard about every word and image, and edit out anything that’s not absolutely essential.

One way to keep the energy moving is to speak naturally, not read off the slides or from a script. So while you will want to speak to the information on each slide, you can’t just read them back to viewers. It’s helpful to write a script ahead of time, but don’t simply recite it.

You can also change the pace that you move through information. While a traditional face-to-face presentation might allow you to linger on a slide and speak to your audience, a digital one will benefit from more movement, so try to spend about :45 seconds on each slide. This may be daunting as it creates a larger presentation, but the timing will work out the same, and your viewers will stay with you longer.

And finally, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Practice, practice, practice. Run through your PowerPoint on your own. Test it out on a family member or a colleague online (or even a pet if that’s all you have around). The more familiar you are with the material you are presenting, the more successful it will be.

The keys to a great PowerPoint presentation design

While this may seem like a lot of information, these presentation design tips are both simple and easy to apply. Before you give your next online presentation, just remember:

  • Knowing the software you will use helps you get more out of your time and helps prevent energy-sapping technology errors

  • Energy and enthusiasm will do more to help when presenting online than almost anything on a slide; if you’re excited about your information, your audience will be too

  • Keep the content visual –nothing makes people’s attention wander faster than a wall of text

We hope these expert presentation design tips will help you make the most of your next online presentation!

Ready to present like a pro?

From a digital meeting to the boardroom, we can help you craft better presentations for every business need. Browse our blogs for more presentation tips, or contact us to learn how we can help.

Join more than 700 people who receive bimonthly presentation design & storytelling tips.


1000 W Fulton Market #213
Chicago, IL 60607

  • Grey LinkedIn Icon
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey Vimeo Icon