The great thing about resolutions is that the benefits don’t end when the year does. So when you add these 3 PowerPoint tips to your resolutions list, the benefits will last a lifetime! Read on, take notes, and start the year off with some new PowerPoint skills!
Presentation Resolution #1: Make slide headlines work harder
Slide headlines are underappreciated. Too often, they are relegated to utilitarian titles and then completely forgotten. Or they are so filled with ideas that they act more like short paragraphs than actual titles.
Either way, the result is the same: your headline isn’t doing much work.
So this year, you should resolve to add some storytelling techniques to your toolbox. With presentation storytelling, you’ll have a simple, repeatable, and effective tool for writing more engaging and effective headlines in any PowerPoint presentation.
The easiest way to do this is to shift the focus of your headlines from features to benefits.
A feature is dry and generic. “50W motor.” It tells you the “what,” but not the “why.”
A benefit is descriptive and unique. “Faster cleaning.” But more importantly, a benefit tells the audience what will change as a result of choosing your brand.
So, for example, instead of writing a headline like “Product Overview,” you could say “How you’ll save 15 minutes every day.”
Now, instead of simply telling your audience what they are seeing, you’re telling them how their life will improve as a result. Not only are you speaking more to their needs, you’re telling a story at the same time.
Presentation Resolution #2: Add variety with visual pacing
We often see brands that find a template or slide design, and then use that same layout for every single slide in a presentation. And it makes sense; most people in marketing have had “brand consistency” shouted at them for their entire careers, so why not prioritize it?
But while consistency is important, like anything in life, too much of a good thing can be bad.
The way to add visual interest in presentations (particularly longer ones) isn’t to mix it up and make every slide unique. Instead, the best approach is to choose a few key slides that repeat throughout the presentation, and then switch up the design on those.
For example, a simple way would be to design a handful of templates – title, dividers, text-based, image-based, etc – and then alternate those throughout the presentation.
A key point in that example is that the types of slides you design follow the content you are using. So for text-heavy slides, you have a design that is intended to emphasize text. Same goes for images.
Visual appeal isn’t about adding a lot – it’s about adding just the right amount of variety to keep people’s attention, but not distract them from your content.
Presentation Resolution #3: Start swapping your bullet points for shapes
Let’s just get one thing out of the way. Bullet points are great. They are simple, clear, and serve a very practical purpose. That’s why everyone uses them!
But the problem with bullet points is that everyone uses them. They are so ubiquitous that they often blend into the background, disappear next to other images, or simply don’t add any visual appeal to a slide (which, remember, is first and foremost a visual format).
You can start adding more visual elements to your presentation by switching from standard bullets to almost any of PowerPoint’s built-in library of shapes, like arrow, circles, donuts, and lozenges. Here’s a little about what makes each effective, and when to use them:
Arrows are simple but highly effective. That’s because they come pre-loaded with lots of visual information. They can be used to highlight a key idea, indicate flow in a process, or show the direction of a trend without saying a word. That’s highly useful on dense, information-heavy slides.
Circles, semicircles and ellipses are great for creating buckets or containers to separate information.
Donuts are a common type of graph, but as a shape they can be used to quickly convey that a process is continuous or iterative.
Lozenges are excellent for highlighting a specific piece of text. For example, you can use one to call out an overarching takeaway message for a slide or section of a presentation. And in general, we find that the lozenge is a strong default shape when you need a way to make a message “pop” visually.
In addition to these individual shapes, you can also think about ways to combine shapes on a slide to add greater effect or more specificity. For example, combining a donut and an arrow is a way to guide the audience through your process.
Presentation Resolutions Checklist
Make slide headlines work harder
Add variety with visual pacing
Start swapping your bullet points for shapes
With a little practice, these three PowerPoint techniques will become a standard part of your presentation design practice. Be sure to let us know how they worked for you!